It’s graduate show season in London, and though we’ll be featuring students from all over town in the coming weeks, we’ve found over the years that no show is quite as spectacular — or up our alley — as the Royal College of Art’s. With its esteemed alumni including the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Thomas Heatherwick, Tracey Emin, and David Hockney — not to mention some of our favorite contemporary designers, such as Max Lamb, Hunting & Narud, Soft Baroque, Fredrik Paulsen, and Hilda Hellström — Show RCA always boasts an impressive arsenal of postgraduate talent across a variety of disciplines.
Comprising four days, 12,000 square feet, and 50-something exhibitors, Sight Unseen OFFSITE is a major undertaking — a Herculean one, in fact, if you consider that there are only two of us leading the entire operation. So when we announced in April that we were doing an additional show this year, at the Collective Design fair, people quite understandably looked at us like we'd lost our minds. And yet we persisted on the sheer force of our belief that Steven Learner and his team at Collective are doing great things for design, things we wanted to be a part of — not just providing a platform for some of the world's most important design galleries to sell to clients, but attempting to widen the dialogue with special projects like (this year) on-site design performances by The American Design Club, a Nap Lab by Various Projects and Print All Over Me, installations by OS & OOS and Jonathan Nesci, and of course, an offer to let us curate a corollary to Sight Unseen OFFSITE that featured six up-and-coming American designers making gallery-level work. If you didn't get the chance to see last week's Collective Design fair, which welcomed more than 10,000 visitors, here's our best of show — and stay tuned for images from our own presentation at Collective, which we'll be posting tomorrow.
Yesterday we introduced you — both on our site and in a massive Facebook album — to all the wonderful objects we photographed while design-hunting our way through the Milan furniture fair. But thanks to seriously horrendous lighting (we're looking at you, Rho Fiera), the times we were in a hurry, and the times our camera just couldn't seem to grasp the concept of white balance while in the presence of LEDs, we couldn't possibly capture a great image of everything we saw that deserved coverage. That is where today's post steps in: Here, we bring you the best press images we gathered of all our favorite designs at this year's Salone, with nearly 50 more on offer over on Facebook.
Another year, another Milan. Every year we attend the behemoth furniture fair known as Salone expecting to come away with something smart to say about the current state of design. But the truth is, you spend the week bombarded with so much stuff that you're often left with just a few fleeting mental images of your favorite things, whether it's a colorful chair sheathed in Flyknit-esque sneaker material or a particularly delicious gnocchi you nearly licked off the plate. Luckily, that's what cameras are for. We shot nearly everything we saw this year, whether it was for an immediate Instagram, a file-away-for-later trend, or to share with you here, in our best of the best round-up from last week.
February: a month synonymous with diminishing New Year’s resolutions, potential polar vortices, and the world’s largest meet-up of Scandinavian furniture and lighting designs. Expectations for this year’s Stockholm Furniture Fair were higher than ever with positive winds sweeping through the industry (and Scandinavia in general, according to this week's New Yorker). Although the Nordic vernacular for high-quality craftsmanship still prevailed, this year welcomed debate around experimental methods and their significance for contemporary design. From across both the larger halls and the Greenhouse display for independent designers, we're highlighting some of our favorite products from the week here.
While the furniture market seems to be enjoying a slower pace of late – with many brands safely coasting on a design language of minimal lines and adaptable colorways geared towards the notion of versatility in our homes – the international interiors show IMM Cologne brought a smattering of unexpected and pleasing discoveries. From bold, new homegrown brands and a hall designated entirely to up-and-coming designers, to the surprising use of color across the bigger, international halls ('70s-style honey beige, maroon, and green anyone?) we bring you our favorite launches from this, the first furniture trade show of the year.
If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you know that we are, above all, sunshine-seeking people who happen to be inextricably linked to New York and its fickle seasons. Normally we leap at the chance to hightail it off the East Coast anytime between November and April, in search of beaches, pools, palm trees, and vitamin D. But somehow, while Monica and the rest of the design world headed to Miami at the beginning of December, I found myself saying yes to a week in Finland, home of 30-degree temperatures and 3PM sunsets. When I arrived, no fewer than three people delighted in telling me that the previous month in Finland had seen only 15 hours of sunshine.
Glancing out the window on this cold, grey, rainy day in New York City, it's hard to believe that just last week we were frolicking in the sunshine in Miami, immersing ourselves in art and design and running into friends like Su Wu and Brent Dzekciorius on the street while flitting between parties and champagne brunches. While the primary purpose of our time there was to launch a new collaboration with Print All Over Me for the shop at the Standard (read all about that here), we managed to squeeze a million other activities into our four-day trip, from a visit to the impeccably curated Untitled art fair to a bizarre slide lecture and fashion show by Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe to a 3AM performance by rapper Rae Sremmurd at a local nightclub that left our ears ringing for three days straight. While you won't find that particular dalliance documented here, we did take plenty of photographs of art and design; some of our favorites are posted after the jump.
As we understand it, this is the dream, right? To turn your art-school thesis project into a multimillion dollar corporation and a brand that’s coveted the world over? That’s essentially what happened to Dutch designer Max Barenburg, who devised the origins of the Bugaboo stroller back in his days as a student at Design Academy Eindhoven in the early ’90s. The original design did not survive intact — Barenburg at first envisioned the now iconic stroller as an all-terrain vehicle that could turn into a two-wheeler and hook up to a mountain bike for a bit of baby off-roading — but its essential DNA was there: the telescoping handle meant to accommodate tall Dutch dads, the central joint that would allow the stroller to fold up using a single hand. Barenburg could never have foreseen Bugaboo’s massive popularity in part because he never could have guessed the collaborations the stroller would inspire. To date, the brand has worked with Pendleton, Missoni, Viktor & Rolf, the Andy Warhol Foundation (we particularly like the stroller covered in a giant Velvet Underground banana), and, as of next month, Diesel.
Anyone who believes that publishing is dead should try attending the New York Art Book Fair on a Friday afternoon — neither day jobs nor the gorgeous weather nor the fact that the big public opening was the night before made it any less of an unequivocal mob scene at the start of this past weekend, when we spent four hours squeezing through its hot, sweaty warrens in pursuit of interesting things. We don't consider ourselves aficionados of the independent press scene, but there was still plenty for the armchair enthusiast to discover, which is part of what makes the fair so darn popular: In addition to scores of obscure art books and rare editions, which you could spend a lifetime or two attempting to browse, there are also great prints, installations, ephemera, tote bags, and even ceramics, like the paper-holders by Bjørn Mortensen of Apis Press that are pictured above. We're sure we missed at least half of what was actually on offer, but we've catalogued the rest of our favorite finds after the jump.
As summer turns to fall, so we turn the design diary to September and one of our favorite events: London's annual Design Festival. Now in its 12th year, LDF has evolved to include not only the city’s flourishing design community, but a national and increasingly international mix, competing against the behemoth that is Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April. But in addition to furniture debuts and high-profile launches, LDF also acts as an occasion for those lesser design-mad folks to enjoy events and workshops around the city, as well as the oh-so-tempting retail destinations offering the latest coordinating stationery necessities (yes, HAY, we’re looking at you). With the launch of our pop-up keeping us New York–bound, we sent our London correspondent Rae Blunstone out onto the circuit, LDF guide in hand and sturdy sneakers at the ready, to pick up her favorites from the week's events.
If you've never been to the Swiss version of Art Basel and Design Miami/Basel, what they say about it is pretty much true: If Miami's overall vibe seems to put partying, relaxation, and hedonism first and serious business second, Basel is decidedly the other way around. Yes, people like Dasha Zhukova and Craig Robbins throw fancy dinners, and spending at least one night out until 4AM at certain local bars is a required rite, and the sales numbers are probably quite similar for both events, but being in Basel just feels different. For one, there's no offsite scene to speak of, so you spend almost the whole time in massive halls that are jam-packed full of people, leaving no room to forget that you're basically inside a shopping mall for the filthy rich. And the banks of the Rhine, pretty as they may be, are no South Beach. People wear more clothes in Basel. Everything is twice as expensive. If there's one obvious advantage — for a journalist or casual observer — to attending Basel over Miami, it's that you're far less likely to be distracted by hangovers, pool parties, boozy brunches, and beach FOMO. You spend the entire day scrutinizing the actual work, and if you're lucky, like we were, you come home with a camera full of satisfying discoveries.