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Category Archives: Up and Coming

  1. 03.25.15
    Up and Coming
    Jacqueline Klassen, ceramicist

    Jacqueline Klassen didn’t grow up around design; her father was a therapist and her mom a case management worker, and their family’s greatest joy was good food. She didn’t study it either; she holds an undergraduate degree in English literature and was often told, “Go to school! You’d be a great teacher!” But rather than teach, Klassen instead signed up for more classes herself — only this time it was a six-week course in ceramics. “I immediately was in love,” Klassen remembers. “I was always grasping for something that would be a good fit for me; I was trying to make something work, but I hadn’t yet found it.” Over the next year, she toyed with the idea of going to grad school for art history. But when she found herself in the studio, at the wheel more often than not, it became apparent that perhaps she should listen to her gut.

  2. 02.04.15
    Up and Coming
    Ferris McGuinty, artist

    If you go looking on the internet for information about a Cornwall-based maker named Ferris McGuinty, chances are you won’t find much. Yes, McGuinty is on the younger side (we were born in the same year, so at least that’s what I’m telling myself) but even more than that: Ferris McGuinty didn’t exist until 2009. The name was merely a pseudonym the artist took on to allow himself the freedom to make work that was unlike anything he’d done before. Having graduated from art school in the early 2000s, McGuinty previously made work that was smaller in scale, tiny, almost architectural-like models. As a respite from that, he began gathering found objects — “I’m quite a prolific hoarder,” he says proudly — and marrying them with elements of his own creation to make the kind of assemblage objects you see at the top of this post. “Ferris came about because because the work really had that day-off vibe. McGuinty somehow naturally followed suit. But it allowed me a sense of detachment from my own work. I could be much more playful and not worried about what direction it went in.”

  3. 02.03.15
    Up and Coming
    Michael Schoner, furniture designer

    Sometimes you can take one look at a designer’s body of work and deduce that they have a background in architecture before ever meeting or talking with them. Amsterdam-based Michael Schoner — who worked his way through multiple architecture firms across Europe before settling in Amsterdam and founding his own design studio in 2010 — definitely falls into this category. His approach to design is uniquely architectural, building from a visual vocabulary of simple shapes and forms that are often bisected, stacked, or spliced.

  4. 01.21.15
    Up and Coming
    Daniel Everett, photographer

    Utah-based artist Daniel Everett has a BFA in photography from Brigham Young and a master’s from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. But it may have been what happened between his two degrees that had the biggest impact on Everett’s career. “I’d done an internship as part of my undergraduate degree with Edward Burtynsky, and after I finished my undergrad, I traveled with him for just over a year,” Everett remembers. “If you know his work, Burtynsky photographs, like, manmade manipulations of the landscape: the largest open-pit copper mine, or the largest oil field. We were always traveling to some superlative location — the biggest, the widest, the greatest — and I got really interested in the in-between places that we passed through: the nondescript, transitory spaces like subway systems, airports, parking garages, and hotels. Spaces that are meant to be legible regardless of the language, and where the aesthetics are governed by function.”

  5. 01.07.15
    Up and Coming
    Oyyo, Swedish textile designers

    Lina Zedig and Marcus Åhrén, of the Stockholm-based studio Oyyo, take a best-of-both-worlds approach to their work. If Zedig is the self-described perfectionist who obsesses over color and composition, Åhrén is the “action person, always keen to get new projects going and thinking that everything is possible.” For their first collection, which launched in 2013, they employed age-old techniques to craft flat-weave dhurries, but imbued the familiar form with unexpected geometric and architectural patterns. And while their carpets — in combinations of pastel pinks, yellows, and oranges, deep blues, greens, and black — have a cozy, at-home feel, they also reflect the restless, roving spirit in which Åhrén and Zedig, avid travelers, created them. It’s design for settling in, not settling down.

  6. 01.05.15
    Up and Coming
    Hallgeir Homstvedt, designer

    As we prepare to welcome the new year, let’s all take a moment to reminisce about how great 2014 was. Sure, some had better years than others, but there’s one thing that can’t be contested — Norwegian designer Hallgeir Homstvedt had an immensely successful run, launching four products to the market and cementing relationships with companies like Muuto, Lexon, and Established & Sons. So what is it exactly that brings manufacturers knocking at his door? We’ve got a hunch that it’s the designer’s ability to be adaptable and cooperative throughout the design process, whilst sticking to a very distinct concept, something he learned on the job during a three-year stint with design studio Norway Says. His products are tactile and interactive, smart and perfectly proportioned.

  7. 12.22.14
    Up and Coming
    Mathieu Julien and Jin Angdoo of Amateurs

    For all its perks — freedom, travel, never having to take off your pajamas — the freelance life has one perpetual drawback: the panic that starts to creep in whenever you’re between jobs. Add that to the sense of creative fulfillment that every designer and artist craves, and it’s no wonder so many of them start their own projects on the side. For the Paris-based couple Mathieu Julien and Jin Angdoo, whenever they don’t have work as a freelance illustrator (Julien) and a film and animation director (Angdoo), they dream up new projects to release under the extra-wide umbrella of their shared endeavor, Amateurs; launched in June, the website comprises projects that are experimental, hand-crafted, and fall somewhere between art and design, like painted tea towels and flags, embroidered sweaters and blankets, plus actual paintings as well. We checked in with the duo to find out more about the collaboration.

  8. 12.17.14
    Up and Coming
    Los Angeles art director Sarah Kissell, aka Pure Magenta

    It can be easy to become immune to the Postmodern references and patterns currently littering the digital ether, but there’s something different about Sarah Kissell, the Los Angeles–based designer behind the graphically-fitting guise Pure Magenta. As she describes it, it’s the simultaneous practice of excess and restraint — especially while exploring questionable taste — that Kissell values the most. “Riding the line between the two is when things become interesting to me,” she says. “It also widens the opportunity to succeed or fail, which is a healthy place to be a young designer.” And healthy is exactly where the designer is right now, dividing her time as senior art director for the terminally trendy fashion retailer Nasty Gal, as well as developing Pure Magenta’s graphic identity and soon-to-launch jewelry line.

  9. 12.16.14
    Up and Coming
    Matthew Philip Williams, furniture designer

    The first work we ever knew from Portland, Oregon–based furniture designer Matthew Philip Williams was a collection he calls The Step-Family. The pieces, which were designed individually but at the same time, include a pinchpot mug in Yves Klein blue, a laminate and maple bench, and a steel and Douglas fir coat rack. The items are so aggressively functional — and make use of such logical and simple material choices — that you would never guess that Williams’s first inclination was to be a fine artist. After graduating from a material studies program in Richmond, Virginia, Williams headed to Portland to get an MFA in applied craft and design. “I had this vision of being in galleries, but I soon realized I was more mentally suited for functional stuff,” he says. “At the same time, I try to keep my hands and my head in both worlds, thinking about art and furniture and doing what seems right for each project.”

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.”

  14. 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.”

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.”

  18. 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.

  19. 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.”

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.”