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Category Archives: Up and Coming

  1. 11.04.14
    Up and Coming
    Jonas Wagell, furniture designer

    Swedish designer and architect Jonas Wagell has products in production with Scandinavian companies like Normann Copenhagen, Muuto, Menu, and Mitab, but it was only a few weeks ago — when we featured one of Wagell’s lighting prototype in our Saturday post — that we began to understand the vast reserves of cute designs coming out of Wagell’s Stockholm studio. Wagell’s pieces are brightly colored, exhibiting a certain playfulness he’s become recognized for as a designer, and he calls what he does generous minimalism — creating “simplistic objects that are easy to understand and use, but try to add something personal and expressive.” Given his background in communications (he worked in that industry before heading to design school at Konstfack in the early 2000s), he’s able to understand the relationship between people and the everyday objects they use. He approaches design not from an artistic perspective, which can be isolating and potentially pretentious, but from one based in functionality. Wagell wants his objects to be affectionately used, not admired from a shelf, so he uses readily available materials and steers clear of elaborate or expensive processes. In addition to the designer’s firm JWDA, he also founded an in-house label named Hello Industry in 2011, and was named one of Wallpaper’s 50 hottest young architects in recognition of his work with prefabs. Keep reading to learn more about why you ought to be keeping an eye firmly on this Stockholm-based studio.

  2. 11.03.14
    Up and Coming
    Mercury Bureau, Furniture Designer

    We’ve heard of people putting their art career on hold in order to be a designer, or their finance career on hold in order to be an artist, but Shane Krepakevich is probably the first person we’ve known who put his geology career on hold to make furniture. The Edmonton native initially chose science over art when attending college in the late ’90s, but realized after graduating that it would be easier for him to return to geology later than vice versa. After painting and then sculpting his way through an MFA in 2010 — with a focus on functional objects and architectural measurements — he began moonlighting for the Montreal lighting studio Lambert & Fils. The rest, as they say, is history: Krepakevich moved to Toronto this past September, set up his own design studio under the name Mercury Bureau, and released a collection of lights, tables, and shelves that dovetail with his still-ongoing art practice.

  3. 10.24.14
    Up and Coming
    Heddle & Needle

    Before she got hooked on weaving, Rachel Gottesman was both a painter and a jewelry-maker, and the influence of those preoccupations is wonderfully obvious in her small-scale textiles, which she creates under the name Heddle & Needle. Gottesman treats each small weaving as a tiny canvas on which to work out ideas about things like color, composition, linearity, topography, and adornment. Formerly a director of artist relations at Threadless in Chicago, Gottesman moved back to New York about a year ago, and in the short time since she discovered her affinity for the medium, she’s made weavings that incorporate grids, geometrics, hieroglyphs, brass charms — even tiny squares made to look like Boucherouite rugs. The weavings are small – usually no more than a foot wide and two feet long, though she has plans to go big — and accessibly priced, which is why we immediately looked her up when we needed someone to create a textile series for our recent pop-up at Space Ninety 8. At the same time, we thought it was the perfect time to get to know her a little bit better on the site.

  4. 10.21.14
    Up and Coming
    Tessy King, ceramicist

    Australian ceramicist Tessy King may only just be finishing her degree in ceramics at RMIT in Brunswick, but that doesn’t mean she’s a novice. Originally from a small town in Northern New South Wales, King studied nursing and naturopathy at a small university after high school and credits her interest in the medium back to those days as a budding scientist. “I often refer back to some of that knowledge when contemplating my work,” she says. “Ceramics involves so much chemistry.”

  5. 10.02.14
    Up and Coming
    Romy Northover, Ceramicist

    Ten years ago, Romy Northover was a student at Goldsmith College, an incredibly conceptual art school in London that she found to be grueling. “I’m a kinesthetic learner,” says the now Brooklyn-based ceramicist. “I figure things out by doing them, not just by thinking about them. I’m not an intellectual; it’s more experiential for me. But those were important years because they got me to where I am now.”

  6. 09.26.14
    Up and Coming
    Vera & Kyte, Furniture Designers

    It’s been a banner year for Norwegian design — from our perspective, anyway. Just after being thoroughly indoctrinated to its highlights, both old and new, during New York Design Week in May, we set off on a long-awaited pilgrimage to the country in June to experience its aesthetic charms for ourselves, and we were not disappointed. Yet if we think back, our Norwegian design awakening truly began at this year’s Salone Satellite exhibition in Milan; that’s where we discovered the work of the promising young Bergen-based duo Vera Kleppe and Åshild Kyte — aka Vera & Kyte — whose debut collection of colorful tables, lamps, room dividers, and daybeds was highly graphic, well-resolved, and of-the-moment without being too trendy. Inspired by Art Deco, functionalism, French botanical gardens, and Jaques Tati’s Mon Oncle, the series made us eager to see more from the duo, a wish that was granted this week when they sent us a first look at their latest project, just unveiled at Tent London: a simple wooden armchair intended to evoke summer. Read more about the work, along with what inspires Kleppe and Kyte in general, after the jump.

  7. 08.21.14
    Up and Coming
    Ian Anderson, ceramicist

    If you find it at all impressive that Philadelphia-based ceramicist Ian Anderson is releasing the debut collection we’re presenting here at the tender age of just 23, consider this: Anderson has been developing the collection’s asymmetrical, highly sophisticated forms in his head ever since he was a high-school student back in Mission Viejo, California. He just never had the studio set-up to realize them until now.

  8. 08.15.14
    Up and Coming
    Workaday Handmade

    Like many creatives we’ve interviewed before, Forrest Lewinger began his Workaday Handmade ceramics label while in the employ of someone else. Having studied ceramics in college and promptly dropped it to focus on more video-based, site-specific work, the Virginia-born designer found himself a year or so ago back behind the potter’s wheel, working as a studio assistant to a ceramicist in New York City. “A lot of times, artists think of their day job as an obstructive force,” laughs Lewinger. “I started to think of it as something more generative.”

  9. 08.13.14
    Up and Coming
    Marine Duroselle, graphic designer

    For the young, French graphic designer and Royal College of Arts grad Marine Duroselle, a relationship to pattern and shape is both instinctive and intuitive, owing in large part to the vast array of objects she was exposed to as a child. Growing up in Peru, her mother an anthropologist specializing in pre-Colombian textiles, Duroselle was continually surrounded by rich fabrics, threads and other types of South American crafts; a period of post-adolescence spent living in New York, on an exchange program at the School of Visual Arts, only further emphasized her interest in textiles and color.

  10. 07.18.14
    Up and Coming
    Chad Kouri, artist

    Chad Kouri took his first freelance design gig at the tender age of just 15, but like most creatives, Kouri had trouble at first striking a balance between paying the bills and pursuing his passions. “I moved to Chicago after high school to study design, but knew I didn’t have enough money to finish a four-year program. So I took as many classes as I could and then jumped out to work for a marketing firm, which was not at all fulfilling. I was basically designing junk mail for five years. After hours, I’d work on editorial illustrations or custom typography, but I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy being on a computer 16 hours a day. I started doing collage as a way to break away from screen time. I used to reference a lot of old ads and typography from the ’50s and ’60s, and I wanted to work larger but the pieces could only be as big as a magazine page. That’s how I transitioned to using flat shape and color, and that’s pretty much where I’m at in this experiment of an art career that I have.”

  11. 07.15.14
    Up and Coming
    DAMM Design, Lighting Studio

    There’s much that sets DAMM Design apart from the current crop of up-and-coming American designers, but perhaps the most obvious thing is the town they call home: Brenda and Robert Zurn, the married couple who founded DAMM in 2013, have lived and raised five children in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the better part of two decades. To the casual observer, it’s the most random town to have produced great design since Donald Judd went to Marfa. But as Brenda explains: “Although St. Petersburg used to be known as a retirement destination, the art scene is vibrant, and we live in an area saturated with glass blowers. Chihuly is here; Duncan McClellan is here.” Despite the proximity to so many hot shops, the Zurns only recently began working with blown glass. The majority of their lamps are made from elemental materials — brass, wood, marble, copper, or concrete, often buffed or blackened to bring out the material’s inherent beauty. They deviate from that natural palette in the most delightfully whimsical of ways — an enameled mint terrace meant to evoke the Art Deco aesthetic of their home state, or an ombre motorcycle-paint fade on recycled lighting components. We were so tickled by their work that we invited them to participate in our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event this year (where they put their oldest sons to work as interns) and to share a bit more their story with us in the interview after the jump.

  12. 06.27.14
    Up and Coming
    Anny Wang, Furniture and Interior Designer

    If you’re a design student, and you’re still on the fence about whether to join Instagram (do people like this exist?) here’s proof positive that you need an account, stat: Instagram is where we recently stumbled upon Anny Wang, a Swedish-born designer whose BA graduation project (above) blew us away but who cemented her visual artist bona fides with one of the most beautiful feeds we’ve ever seen. Wang grew up in a small town in Sweden and only this year completed her undergraduate studies, but we’re already keeping an eye on her. Her first collection, called Akin, hits on many of the current trends — iridescence, marble, copper, etc. — but seems timeless rather than trendy through her use of form and interesting material treatments. Read on for more about this young talent, and watch out world when she goes for her Master’s.

  13. 06.10.14
    Up and Coming
    Dessuant Bone, Multi-Disciplinary Designers

    Product designer Marie Dessuant and graphic designer Philip Bone met in 2010 as fellow residents at Fabrica, the Italian design research center, but their professional paths diverged for a spell afterwards. They both moved to London, but Dessuant took a job as head of design for for the furniture brand Another Country, while Bone went on to work at Wallpaper magazine and Reiss. This spring, the pair finally decided to team up to start the studio Dessuant Bone, now based in Paris, where they tackle projects that span their chosen disciplines — art direction and set design for Reiss, product design for Another Country (by whom Dessuant is still technically employed), and experimental object and furniture design for themselves. Their first official studio project, released last month, was the Bay Collection, which includes a large leaning ceramic vase, a flat vase resembling a cymbal, and a series of colorful silkscreened mirrors inspired by beach flags. Read on to see more of the duo’s work and find out what the future holds for their collaboration.

  14. 06.03.14
    Up and Coming
    Sandy Van Helden, Illustrator

    Amsterdam-based 23-year-old Sandy Van Helden describes her illustration style as “clean, detailed, and aesthetic with a hint of mystery” — we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. We rarely feature illustration on Sight Unseen, just because there’s so little of it that suits our personal taste, but we were intrigued by Van Helden’s style the first time we saw her black-and-white portraits of women with bold, graphic eyebrows and hollow-eyed men silhouetted against swirling marbled backgrounds. There’s certainly something obviously of-the-moment about the Willem de Kooning Academy graduate’s work, but there’s something intriguing about it, too. Check out more of it below, including a recent installation Van Helden designed for one of Amsterdam’s coolest concept stores.

  15. 04.23.14
    Up and Coming
    Rimma Tchilingarian, product designer

    So much of the current frenzy around ceramics revolves around what feats each practitioner can achieve with glaze, whether it’s Adam Silverman’s volcanic pots, Dana Bechert’s carved vases, or Ben Fiess’s brushstroked jars. But for the just-graduated Berlin-based product designer Rimma Tchilingarian, it’s the properties of the clay itself that fascinated her the most. “I wanted to work with porcelain at a very basic level, free of conventions or rules, creating raw and unglazed surfaces or coloring the snow-white material with pigments,” she says of her first collection At the Studio, for which colored or textured parts can be combined into a whole. She burned paper to achieve a crinkled effect and mixed in pigment to get that on-trend marbled look but has yet to experiment with the thing that so many of her brethren obsess over. We were so smitten with the results of her first collection we asked her to tell us a little bit more.

  16. 04.22.14
    Up and Coming
    Doug Johnston, Basket Artist

    Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Doug Johnston was surrounded by the Native American art that his parents voraciously collected — woven rugs, Kachina dolls and coiled baskets made from materials such as pine needles, yucca, acacia and bear grass. But when the Brooklyn-based designer decided a few years ago that he’d like to learn coiling himself, to make baskets from stitched lengths of cotton rope, he didn’t travel to the Southwest to train with a master craftsperson. Instead, he went on YouTube, scouring instructional videos for a new approach. “Traditional coiling techniques are really labor-intensive,” he says. “You have to go inch by inch, one stitch at a time, and mastering that technique could take years. I was too impatient.”

  17. 04.03.14
    Up and Coming
    Grain, furniture and product designers

    To hear the story of James and Chelsea Minola — the married couple behind Seattle’s Grain design studio — you begin to wonder how it’s possible their paths didn’t cross even earlier in life. Both grew up in Southern California — James in San Diego, and Chelsea in Los Angeles, where her parents were the owners of a punk rock store at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. In the early ’90s, both families relocated to the Pacific Northwest, and James and Chelsea moved east to Providence, Rhode Island, around the same time to attend RISD — James as an undergrad in engineering and Chelsea as a graduate in industrial design. But the two didn’t meet until they both enrolled in a short course called “Bridging Cultures Through Design,” where they worked first in Providence, tinkering with ideas about weaving, and then for a few weeks in Guatemala, where they learned how to work with talented local artisans. The trip would eventually lead the two friends down the path to marriage but it also introduced them to the way in which their future studio would run.

  18. 04.02.14
    Up and Coming
    Nicholas Nyland, artist

    Nicholas Nyland studied to be a painter for years, first as an undergrad at the University of Washington and then as a graduate at the University of Pennsylvania. But it only took one night for him to figure out that his heart belonged to ceramics. “I discovered ceramics through a friend who invited people over just to play around and make things,” says the Seattle-based artist. “It was like a light bulb went off over my head. It was the best combination of my interests in painting and color and surface, with the immediacy of sculptural practice and the ability to then glaze.”

  19. 03.27.14
    Up and Coming
    MPGMB, Industrial Designers

    We never really thought we’d be featuring someone who’d also graced the pages of Modern Cat magazine. But that’s exactly where Montreal designers Marie-Pier Guilmain and Maud Beauchamp ended up a few years ago after they hit it big with their chic, flat-packed cardboard teepees and cabins for cats. Back then, the two were known as Loyal Luxe, friends and designers who’d met and hit it off studying industrial design at the Université de Montréal. But a year ago, the two decided to change course. Their Loyal Luxe designs now mostly licensed to Suck UK, Guilmain and Beauchamp embarked on a new adventure, which they called mpgmb. In some ways, their mission is the same as it was when they were known as Loyal Luxe — to imbue everyday objects with beauty and sophistication through the manipulation of materials, textures, proportions, and form. But here, they’re more interested in items at a human scale: beautiful, turned wood and marble pedestals, patterned stoneware, and colorful wall decals that all have in common a major graphic impact. We recently spoke to the two designers by email to find out more about what’s influenced them in the past (we love the Sottsass table they chose!) and where they’re going next.

  20. 03.24.14
    Up and Coming
    Tim Colmant, Illustrator

    For everyone who’s ever bought, coveted, or loved the famous laminates of the Memphis design group — or is semi-ashamedly stalking the new Nathalie Du Pasquier collection at American Apparel — it is nearly impossible not to fall for the work of the young Belgian illustrator Tim Colmant. We succumbed the moment we discovered his cheerful illustrations a little over a year ago, and went on to recommend him to Jonah Takagi, furniture designer and co-founder of the housewares brand Field, when he curated an exhibition for our Noho Design District event last year. A few weeks ago, we found out that our little matchmaking scheme had evolved even further, into a collaboration between Colmant and Takagi’s insanely talented girlfriend Mary Timony, whose new band Ex Hex has hired him to wrap its merch in his signature Microsoft Paint–inspired designs. We figured it was time to check in and see what else Colmant has been up to in the year since we first featured him.

  21. 02.19.14
    Up and Coming
    Studio Visibility, Product Designers

    Sina Sohrab was born in Tehran and raised in Detroit; Joseph Guerra is a native Los Angelean who grew up outside Atlanta. Yet when the pair met as undergrads at RISD, their backgrounds turned out to be their most influential commonality: “There was this emphasis in both our families on earning your possessions and respecting them — it’s something we really connected on,” recalls Sohrab. “Joey’s dad, for example, had this idea that he wanted all of his possessions to reference an older possession he’d had at another point in his life. This timeline of objects and the idea of emotional value became really important to us.” Upon graduating in 2012, the duo knew they wanted to team up; Sohrab moved to New York and took a job at Bec Brittain studio, while Guerra spent six months in Europe working for Industrial Facility and Big-Game before joining him. They’re now hunkered down in Brooklyn preparing to launch their first collaborative collection during ICFF in May, under the name Studio Visibility.

  22. 01.24.14
    Up and Coming
    Natalie Herrera of High Gloss Ceramics

    If you want to get a sense of exactly how new to the scene Natalie Herrera is — well, she just launched her online shop last night. It’s not that she’s a newly minted graduate — Herrera got a BFA from RISD in 2009, after all — it’s only that it took her this long to figure out she was really, really good at ceramics. A glimpse at her work can immediately tell you why: When you look at her forms, which have more rigorous lines than your usual wheel-thrown vessels, as well as hand-built surface decoration in the form of shapes and squiggles, it comes as no surprise that what she was doing before she stumbled into ceramics was graphic design.

  23. 01.09.14
    Up and Coming
    Josephine Choquet, Designer

    As longtime talent scouts in the field of design, we can say this with absolute confidence: There are only a handful of schools out there whose students consistently produce well-resolved, magazine-ready work. ECAL, of course, is one of them, and you’ll see several of its recent grads on Sight Unseen in the coming months, starting with today’s interview with Joséphine Choquet. We featured one of the French talent’s projects just before the holidays — a line of acetate sunglasses made in collaboration with another ECAL up-and-comer, Virgile Thévoz — but wanted to come back and finish the job with a short profile cementing her status as one to watch. Like many young designers these days, Choquet is particularly interested in old craft techniques and simple materials, which she then marries with her love of line, pattern, and contemporary art. Check out some of her past and present work after the jump.

  24. 12.24.13
    Up and Coming
    Studio AH–HA, Graphic Designers

    Working as a design journalist confers some pretty amazing benefits — travel to international design fairs, VIP invitations to parties, the occasional holiday gift — but this, right here, is hands down our favorite part of the job: discovering something so new and exciting we get a rush just from being the first to be able to share it with you. We originally met Portuguese graphic designer Catarina Carreiras a few years ago during the Milan Furniture Fair, where she was helping staff the installation of her then-employer, Fabrica, and we’ve kept in touch with her ever since; in 2011 she joined forces with fellow designer (and OMA alum) Carolina Cantante to start the communication and design agency Studio AH—HA, which now operates out of Sam Baron’s office in Lisbon. Carreiras still does work for Sam and Fabrica, but as of this very story, she and Cantante are officially announcing the existence of their burgeoning practice — and its brand new website — to the rest of the world. You’ll want to stare at the duo’s gorgeous work for ages; seeing as it’s the last story we’ll be posting until January 2 as we embark our annual holiday hiatus, you’ll have plenty of time to do just that. Happy new year, and enjoy!

  25. 12.18.13
    Up and Coming
    Lola Lely, furniture designer

    Lola Lely was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, but, having moved to London when she was only five, the rising design star can claim native east Londoner status — a rare feat in the area’s bustling international design scene. Her interest in making dates back nearly as far; her mother, a seamstress, was always “knitting or crocheting, making clothes or coasters.” Her Foundation tutor, ceramicist Bo Davies, guided Lely down the path to product design, to satisfy her interest in various disciplines and materials. But now that she’s there, she says, “none of my projects seem to have an end point. I like restlessness, when I don’t know where something is going. It’s a little bit serendipitous.”