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  1. 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.

  2. 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.”

  3. 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.

  4. 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.”

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.”

  11. 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.

  12. 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.”

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.”

  20. 11.14.13
    Up and Coming
    Knauf & Brown, furniture designers

    Formafantasma, Ladies & Gentlemen, Rich Brilliant Willing: The list of design partnerships that began in art school is pretty endless. But rare is the pair who knew and liked each other enough to not only register at the same university at the same time but also to enroll in all of the same classes, “to keep each other on our toes.” That’s Calen Knauf and Conrad Brown of the emerging Vancouver-based design studio Knauf & Brown talking; the two met through skateboarding more than a decade ago. Brown was a photographer and Knauf a graphic designer, and once they graduated from their industrial design program at Emily Carr, the natural thing to do was to go into business together. “It’s a good partnership,” they say, “because we both have different strengths, but fairly similar aesthetics.” What exactly defines that aesthetic is still a bit up in the air, considering that the two graduated only last year. But what’s emerged so far has shown an emphasis on simple and honest natural materials, like ash and marble, as well as a healthy sense of humor that occasionally surfaces in the form of performance art. For “despite how much of our lives we dedicate to design and our studio, we still place a high priority on having as much fun as possible,” they say. “We both still skateboard, and regularly get up to no good.” Read on for a deeper look into their brand-new practice.

  21. 10.24.13
    Up and Coming
    Misha Kahn, furniture designer

    The first time we met Misha Kahn, he was slapping gold metallic wallpaper with long-lashed googly eyes onto the walls of a tiny room we’d afforded four RISD students at our 2011 Noho Design District showcase. We were never sure quite what to make of the wallpaper — was it technically even “furniture design,” or was it more a piece of Surrealist art? — but we knew from first sight that we loved it. Which is pretty much how we’ve felt about all of the work that’s followed from the Brooklyn-based, Duluth, Minnesota–born designer’s studio, whether it’s a pink bench made from layers of resin and trash, a series of tables that resemble Froebel blocks on acid, or sewn cement pieces that look like the work of a woozy Jeff Koons.

  22. 09.27.13
    Up and Coming
    Helen Levi, ceramicist

    If, like us, you began hearing the name Helen Levi only a few months ago — well, there’s a pretty good reason for it. At this time last year, Levi was balancing four part-time jobs, working as a photo assistant, a pottery teacher, a bartender and a waitress. “I’d been doing pottery since I was a little kid, but mostly gifts or for myself,” she told me when I visited her Greenpoint studio last month. “It’s the dream to be able to make stuff you want to make and have that support you, but I never really thought that was possible.” Then, at a random cocktail event last fall at one of the Steven Alan shops in Manhattan, Levi met the man himself: “I met Steven Alan by chance and was telling him about my work, and he was like, ‘Send it to me.’ I didn’t even have one photograph!” Levi laughs. “But once I met him, it was the spark. I quit all my other jobs and I just tried to do this. Maybe it doesn’t work out and I go back to balancing four things, but it didn’t take a huge investment of money. And so far it’s working.”

  23. 09.03.13
    Up and Coming
    James Shaw, Furniture Designer

    I recently wrote an article for a forthcoming issue of Architectural Digest on the London talent Anton Alvarez, whose Thread-Wrapping Machine has captivated the design world as of late, and in it, his gallerist Libby Sellers makes the point that what’s so of the moment about his work is that he isn’t just making objects, he’s making the object that makes the objects. And it’s so true: Many of the more interesting young designers we’ve come across in the past few years have been the ones shifting their focus towards developing their own weird and wonderful production processes, like Silo Studio for instance. There’s just something about this unexpected inventiveness that captures people’s curiosity, which explains why the latest project by newcomer James Shaw — a series of homemade “guns” that spray or extrude materials into or onto furnishings — went viral on the design blogs shortly after he presented it at his RCA graduation show. In work like his, it’s about the journey, not just the destination. So Sight Unseen, right?

  24. 08.23.13
    Up and Coming
    The American Design Hot List

    Last week on Ambra Medda’s new site L’Arcobaleno, Jill was asked to cover the recent rebirth of New York design, discussing the transformation with key players like Jason Miller, Lindsey Adelman, and Dave Alhadeff. “Once again there’s a scene that’s celebrated internationally,” said Alhadeff, and we couldn’t agree more — ever since we founded the Noho Design District in 2010, which is largely devoted to American talents, we ourselves have been asked countless times by global designers and journalists to share our take on all the exciting things happening on our home turf, and we’re always happy to oblige. After awhile, though, it got us thinking: Why wait for people to ask? Why not create an easy resource we can share with everyone? And so, introducing the American Design Hot List, a totally unscientific, unapologetically subjective portfolio of the 25 emerging and semi-emerging furniture and product designers we think you should know now. Is it comprehensive? No. Will some folks feel left out? Inevitably. But without enumerating them here, we had our reasons for every choice, whether it’s the fact that they have a big show coming up this fall/winter — Katie Stout, Misha Kahn, Snarkitecture, Jonathan Muecke — or they had a game-changing launch this year, or they just seem to be ubiquitous at the moment. Because these things (and our minds) are constantly changing, we’ll be publishing new versions of the list periodically. Meanwhile, Sight Unseen is taking a short summer hiatus next week, returning September 2, so you’ll have plenty of time to peruse this one! See the names after the jump!

  25. 08.19.13
    Up and Coming
    David Kirshoff, Designer

    If New York designer David Kirshoff’s bright, blobby lamps and chairs have an element of the grotesque to them, to some degree it was fated: “I was raised around a shop that makes special effects for movies and TV, where my brother and I used to hide out and coat each other with fake blood,” says the 25-year-old Pratt grad. “I’ve been welding and machining, blowing things up, setting things on fire, and most importantly, making things with my hands since I was a little kid. That’s how I learned to be a craftsman.” Thanks to these formative experiences, Kirshoff developed a healthy knack for experimentation, and for not being afraid to work outside the normal boundaries of form and function. We discovered his wacky work through Zoe Fisher, whose upcoming Handjob Gallery Store project includes a special edition of his lamps. We’ll be helping Fisher launch her entire collection very soon, but in the meantime, you can get a sneak peek by way of our interview with Kirshoff after the jump.