If the weirdness of Ellen Degeneres starting her own Project Runway–style furniture-design reality show didn't fully strike me when I first heard about it, a couple of months back, it definitely hit home shortly after the show first aired on HGTV last Monday night, when I got the following text from my mom: Do you know any of the designers on Ellen's Design Challenge? The weirdest part of all, of course, was that I did: Katie Stout, one of Sight Unseen's inaugural American Design Hot List picks and the winner of our own erstwhile design competition (our 2013 pumpkin-carving contest), is one of the show's six contestants. After watching the first episode myself, in which Stout introduces mainstream America to the squiggly cabinet above, we knew we had to get the full story from the designer. “It was really surreal,” she says of the experience.
If London designer Dominic Wilcox's illustrated blog Variations on Normal is like a comic diary of conceptual one-liners, it's also filled with ideas that often seem too good to be true — what if we really could buy a device to remind us of people's names in awkward social situations? And who doesn't need a little "hill-walking easyfication" sometimes, even if wedge-shaped strap-on shoe platforms aren't exactly a commercially viable product? So when Wilcox was invited to participate in this year's Anti-Design Festival at London Design Week, as part of an exhibition called "Mistakes and Manifestos," he set himself a challenge: to execute one creative project per day for 30 days, with a budget of 10 pounds per day, in effect testing his ability to bring his idea-generation skills off of a sketchpad and into real life. "Speed Creating," as the project is called, documents his attempts to fabricate his cleverest, most fleeting whims — for better or for worse.
In March, Pin-Up magazine editor Felix Burrichter packed his bags and left New York for an extended stay in Los Angeles, where he met up with the Vienna artist Sarah Ortmeyer. Chosen for one of four annual residencies with Vienna's Museum for Applied Arts (MAK) — whose L.A. branch is based in architect Rudolph Schindler's 1922 Kings Road House — the pair have spent the intervening months shacked up in a two-bedroom apartment at the museum's Mackey building, working on a joint project they'll present on September 10. Called "XXX BURRICHTER ORTMEYER," its main element is a publication focused on the mercurial relationship between Schindler and his wife; Burrichter has also taken advantage of the proximity to give the fall issue of Pin-Up an L.A. theme. Architecture buff that he is, we got to wondering how else he'd been inspired by his surroundings, so we invited him to share with us the experience of living in the recently renovated Mackey building, whose five apartments Schindler built in his trademark style in 1939. "It’s like living in a little museum," he says. "At first we were like, this is crazy, but it’s really the perfect apartment, even though it’s so basic. We’ve been here for four and a half months now, and the longer we stay, the more we realize how well thought-out it is."
In March of 2008, Jason Polan set off into Manhattan armed only with a white notepad and a black Itoya Fine Point .6 pen. He had one goal: to draw every person in New York. It would seem an insurmountable task if not for Polan’s habit of documenting most anything that crosses his path, tagging each conquest with a thick scrawl detailing its circumstance, such as “Plant outside of a medical center on Orange and Magnolia Streets, April 25, 2010, drawn right after I tripped on the sidewalk,” or “Philly Cheese Steak, Pat’s Steaks, June 4, 2010.” In the service of his blog Every Person in New York, Polan — whose illustrations often appear in The New York Times and Esquire — has over the past two years drawn more than 10,000 of the city's residents.