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Category Archives: What We Saw

  1. 06.26.14
    What We Saw
    At Design Miami/Basel and Art Basel 2014

    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.

  2. 06.24.14
    What We Saw
    In Norway

    If anyone needed proof this year that Scandinavia had quietly usurped London’s status as the world’s hottest contemporary design scene, it could be found at the Salone del Mobile in April, where the presentation that Danish brand Hay put on, complete with a pop-up shop and an utter madhouse of a cocktail party, was pretty much the talk of the town. It’s entirely thanks to the rise, in the past few years, of not just Hay but brands like Menu, Ferm Living, One Nordic, Muuto, Gubi, and Design House Stockholm, all of whom are working with emerging talents across the region. As we’ve watched the Nordic scene grow, we’ve managed to pay visits to Sweden (three times), Denmark (twice), and Finland (once, in the dead of winter, natch) — even to Iceland, for its DesignMarch festival three years ago. That left Norway as our personal holy grail, made doubly intimidating because of its famed reputation for being outrageously expensive. Two weeks ago, as you may have noticed on Instagram, we finally took the plunge.

  3. 06.20.14
    What We Saw
    Our Top 5 From Show RCA 2014

    As the summer solstice approaches, so too does a wave of graduate shows offering up the latest creative projects and design solutions from the leading sphere of design schools. In London, no show is more hotly anticipated than the Royal College of Art’s annual exhibition Show RCA, noted for its impressive arsenal of postgraduate talent. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to spot this year’s pool of emerging stars across the contemporary art and design practices. The show took place simultaneously across two campuses: Design Products in Kensington, which offered its usual heady mix of modern-day design solutions, and over at the Battersea campus, Textiles, Fine Art and Sculpture students refreshed the visual senses with investigations into color and material. Here are our top five “ones to watch” from the exhibition.

  4. 06.02.14
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2014: David Rockwell by Caliber Grill

    It’s June, and soon we’ll be heading off to places like Art Basel and the Venice Biennale, but you’ll excuse us if we’re still reveling in the highlights from the Best Ever New York Design Week. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one last special exhibitor from our Sight Unseen OFFSITE exhibition: Rockwell Group, who came onto the event as a partner to show off the serious bells-and-whistles grill that the New York–based firm recently designed for Caliber Range Corporation. Like almost everything Rockwell Group creates, the grill was built around the idea of a shared experience, and in that way it was the perfect product for Sight Unseen OFFSITE, which ended up being as much a social gathering as it was a design exhibition

  5. 05.29.14
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2014: ICFF & The Best of The Rest

    There was only one drawback to having a smashingly successful show of our own this year: It left us woefully little time to pound the pavement, seeing what other goodies this edition of NYCxDesign had to offer. A partial list of things we were sad to have missed: The Gourmand’s fruit stand at Vitsoe, the gorgeous Alexander Girard for Herman Miller space, a dance performance at The Future Perfect the night of our own cocktail party, Anna Karlin’s textile collaboration with Japanese weavers Hosoo at Atelier Courbet, the Yabu Pushelberg exhibition Rational x Intuitive Thought, and the debut of what may end up being the first and last furniture collection by Fab. But there were moments when we did manage to sneak away.

  6. 05.27.14
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2014: Sight Unseen OFFSITE, Pt. 2

    Though your Sight Unseen editors have been in major curation mode for the past two weeks, we’ve also had day to day work to do as, you know, journalists. So for five days during our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event last week, Monica and I set up camp on the Astroturf-covered bleachers of the MOLD Future Food Café, where we caught up on emails and posted stories to this very site. It was the perfect vantage point from which to view our own event: We could see friends and VIPs on their way in, and we could overhear people heading to the elevator, on their way up to the second floor. The most common refrain we heard? “Oh my God, there’s more upstairs?”

  7. 05.23.14
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2014: Sight Unseen OFFSITE, Pt. 1

    When we founded the Noho Design District back in 2009, it was meant to provide a much-needed, well-curated platform for independent designers, whose numbers — particularly in America — had begun to surge. But it was also meant to add an extra dose of dimension and excitement to New York Design Week (or NYCxDesign, as it has since come to be known), which at the time was considered preeeeeetty lackluster, to say the least. By that measure alone, the first edition of Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our successor to the Noho Design District, was a massive success; word on the street was that this NYDW was the best anyone could remember, and we’re proud to have played a significant role.

  8. 05.23.14
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2014: Spanish Design at Sight Unseen OFFSITE

    We’ve had a special place in our hearts for Spanish design for as long as we can remember. After all, the very first scouting trip we ever took for Sight Unseen, way back in the summer of 2009, was to sunny Barcelona. (Don’t even get us started on Design in Spain, the last full issue Monica and I worked on at I.D. Magazine, and one of our personal favorites, period.) So when the Spanish trade commission in New York asked us earlier this spring if we’d be interested in curating a selection of our favorite recent Spanish designs for Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the answer was an unequivocal yes. In the end, we chose 17 items that seemed classically Spanish, ranging as they did from sweet to silly, elegant to experimental and mixing classic materials like copper and wood with those never before used in design (melted gummy bear paint wash, anyone?) Once the designs had been selected, the emerging Barcelona studio Mermelada set about designing the exhibition (now called Sight Unseen x Mermelada Estudio ♥ Spanish Design) and styling the items. Read all about the works on display here, then check out Interiors From Spain for even more information about the participating designers.

  9. 05.21.14
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2014: Interiors from Spain at ICFF

    Imagine this scenario: 14 American design brands banding together to take over a large swath of the Milan Furniture Fair, all with the financial and logistical support of the US government. Sounds hilarious, right? While we can’t dream of enjoying such privileges here, in one of the world’s most prosperous nations, Spain has been throwing its weight behind its homegrown design industry for ages. In addition to marketing services, the Spanish trade commission — through an initiative called Interiors From Spain — has helped its local furniture manufacturers have a unified presence at ICFF for the past 10 years. This year’s selection included Apavisa, Capdell, Ebir, Fama, Inalco, Isimob, Kriskadecor, Lladro, Marset, Nanimarquina, Now Carpets, RS Barcelona, Santa & Cole, and Texidors — check out our highlights from those makers after the jump, then watch our site for more coverage of the overall fair in the coming week.

  10. 05.18.14
    What We Saw
    At Collective 2 and Frieze New York 2014

    A little more than a week ago, we were eyeball-deep in preparations for our Sight Unseen OFFSITE show, which runs for two more days in New York City. We had insurance permits to apply for, electricity installations to oversee, and staffers to train, but we were still determined to drag ourselves away long enough to see two of our favorite shows of the year: the Collective Design Fair, and Frieze New York. And oh, was it worth it — Collective had nearly doubled in size since its first edition last year, and Frieze once again gathered some of the most gorgeous art we’d seen in ages under one roof (not to mention with killer food by the likes of Roberta’s and the Fat Radish). See a small selection of our highlights after the jump, then head over to our Facebook page to see much, much more.

  11. 04.16.14
    What We Saw
    At the 2014 Milan Furniture Fair: Part IV

    A week ago today, we spent our afternoon at the Milan fairgrounds, our evening surrounded by colleagues at a dinner hosted by Camron PR, and the wee hours of the night at Bar Basso, where we ran into just about every friend of ours who was in town from far and near. Which reminds us of two key things about the Salone del Mobile: that catching up with dozens of the designers and curators we know but never see is one of our favorite things about the fair, and that each of those friends packs their days in Milan with just as many sights and experiences as we manage to pack into ours. We figured we’d combine both ideas into the second installment of a tradition we began last December at Design/Miami, when we invited everyone we knew who attended to send us the best photo they took that week. Read on to see what folks like Faye Toogood, Felix Burrichter, and Rafael de Cardenas thought were the highlights of their trips.

  12. 04.15.14
    What We Saw
    At the 2014 Milan Furniture Fair, Part III

    The fairgrounds at the Milan Furniture Fair are a great place to see attainable designs by established companies and talents, but typically it’s not the place to go when you’re scouting for new names (though this year’s Satellite show, as demonstrated in yesterday’s post, happened to be a surprise goldmine). For that, you have to brave the long walks, aching feet, and lack of taxis that come along with trying to get to all the shows around town, from Rossana Orlandi gallery to the far-flung Lambrate district. We say this every year, but we barely saw half of what was on offer; that said, we saw a lot of nice things.

  13. 04.14.14
    What We Saw
    At the 2014 Milan Furniture Fair, Part II

    Though we’re back from Milan and already knee-deep in planning for our own design fair next month (eek!), we’ll be bringing you highlights from the Italian capital all this week. Today we’re focusing on our favorites from the fairgrounds, like Front’s beautiful chairs for Moroso (above). The fair this year was visually quite strong, with last year’s obsessive booth styling taken to even greater heights. (We actually begged the Arper folks to put some of their styling pieces into production!). The fair is also where the trends we’d been thinking about began to seriously take shape. What was in this year? Though everyone still loves that pastel mint and pink palette, we saw tons of putty — yes, putty — and other assorted non-hues (most of which didn’t make it into this round-up, since we’re suckers for color). For more of our take, read on, then click through to our Facebook album and come back tomorrow for more from the offsite shows.

  14. 04.11.14
    What We Saw
    At The 2014 Milan Furniture Fair, Part I

    There were two huge advantages to spring’s early arrival in Milan this year, which has blessed us with 70-degree weather and constant blue skies as we’ve been scouting the city’s annual furniture fair all week. First, it made it much easier and more enjoyable to hit up dozens of shows in a row each day, walking miles and burning off all those carbohydrates and sprawling multi-course dinners (we’re looking at you, Swedish Design Goes Milan). Second, it provided the optimal lighting conditions for taking photographs of all the incredible objects we saw along the way — more than 500 of them, at last count (including a cute vignette from the Discipline party, above). We’ll be sharing as many of them as we can with you over the next few days, both here and on our Facebook page, but in the meantime we wanted to take a break from all the pavement-pounding to give you a quick sampling of some of our observations.

  15. 03.06.14
    What We Saw
    The 2014 Whitney Biennial

    Perhaps the most telling moment regarding this year’s Whitney Biennial came when we posted an image of Dutch artist Peter Schuyff’s spiral-carved pencils on Instagram. “Where is this craft show?” joked Mondo Cane’s Patrick Parrish. “Bedford Ave?” he asked, referring to Brooklyn’s main hipster thoroughfare. Yep, this biennial feels decidedly different than years past. There are still inscrutable videos, and works we simply slid by for lack of interest, but this year had moments that felt smaller, more tactile, more intimate — and for us, more compelling — than in years past.

  16. 02.17.14
    What We Saw
    At Stockholm Design Week 2014

    When Katrin Greiling offered to report on Stockholm Design Week for us this year, it felt like the holy trinity of guest fair coverage: a designer with an amazing eye, who also happened to be a talented photographer, who wasn’t too occupied exhibiting her own work this year to make the rounds on our behalf. Turns out she’s been busy with other projects, 700 miles away from her former home base: “After living in Sweden for 15 years, I recently made a move to Berlin to work on two interior projects,” Greiling says. “Still, though, my heart is strongly connected to the aesthetics of the North, and a year without going to the furniture fair in Stockholm would be unthinkable for me. Studio Greiling didn’t show any work at the 2014 fair, but we still enjoyed meeting up with all the members of our huge Nordic furniture family. Here’s a glimpse at what I saw during the four days I spent in Stockholm.”

  17. 02.14.14
    What We Saw
    At the New W Verbier in Switzerland

    If you’re a fan of the W Hotels chain, which at the moment comprises nearly 50 properties in more than 25 countries, you probably fall in to one (or both) of the following categories: you’re young, wealthy, extroverted, and appreciate things like fire-juggling bartenders, or you really, really love design. It’s not that the W’s interiors are suited to every taste — especially since half the fun of them is that they’re mostly designed by different firms, from Patricia Urquiola (Vieques) to Yabu Pushelberg (Guangzhou) — but you do have to tip your hat to any corporate entity that puts this much investment into our little corner of culture, including the annual W Hotels Designers of the Future awards. The latest W to take cutting-edge design to a novel locale is the new W Verbier by the Amsterdam firm Concrete, which Sight Unseen had the good fortune to visit last month.

  18. 02.03.14
    What We Saw
    At Maison et Objet and IMM Cologne 2014

    In January, we saw plenty of incredible things, from the Brancusi show at Paul Kasmin Gallery to the Swiss Alps to the movie Her. What we did not see, unfortunately, was a design fair — while many of our friends and colleagues were making the rounds in Paris and Cologne, we were busy with the likes of planning our 2014 New York Design Week event, beginning our site’s forthcoming redesign, and talking about how much we loved Her. Lucky for us, though, we’re pretty well connected, so we managed to round up a relatively comprehensive group of photos of what we missed. Behold, after the jump, the Sight Unseen armchair guide to the best new releases at Maison et Objet and IMM Cologne 2014, minus the jetlag and the convention center food.

  19. 12.11.13
    What We Saw
    At Art Basel and Design Miami 2013: Part III

    We never quite know what to say after attending a large art and/or design fair. Did we see anything that particularly stood out? Of course. Did we identify any trends? Does it matter? Sure, there were motifs here and there — marble abounded once again in the design tent, as did Prouvé, while the artists seemed really into pineapples and coconuts this year — but all that feels pretty inconsequential. When we attend shows like these, we have a lot of fun documenting them as we go, and meeting new people doing interesting things along the way. Then we come home with a trove of new talents to explore for future Sight Unseen stories. That’s really the heart of it. So while we’d planned to tell you more about what sold (Sebastian Errazuriz’s motorcycle, clocks by Humans Since 1982, Vuitton’s Perriand cabana), what didn’t sell (actually we have no idea), and what the mood of this year’s show was like (It was better than last year! It was worse than last year!), we think we’ll leave it at this: 134 annotated photos on our Facebook page sharing our highlights from the fair, so you can make some discoveries of your own.

  20. 12.10.13
    What We Saw
    At Art Basel and Design Miami 2013: Part II

    If you spent even an ounce of time at the pool while in Miami for Basel last week, or having cocktails with friends, or sleeping late thanks to an epic hangover, there’s an excellent chance you failed to see everything that was on view at the various fairs and satellite exhibitions around town. We ourselves had so little time at Art Basel itself that we did an embarrassingly inadequate skim through what amounted to about a third of the show, promising ourselves we’d come back later in the week (yeah right). And then there were the personal moments we missed just by virtue of not being able to be at every gathering of friends, every party, or every impromptu beach hang at any given time — the weird, wacky, and wonderful experiences our friends had amidst the hyper-stimulation that is Basel, which we witnessed fragments of during the rare times when we were able to sit down and catch up on our Instagram feed. Because we couldn’t be everywhere nor see everything, we decided to ask some of our favorite design-world folks to share with us what they saw — the one favorite photo they took in Miami last week, from droopy hot dogs to Modernist masterpieces.

  21. 12.06.13
    What We Saw
    At Art Basel and Design Miami 2013: Part I

    Hello from sunny Miami! Sight Unseen has been here all week attending the 2013 Art Basel and Design Miami shows, and it’s been a wild ride, as usual. We’ve brunched with Ruinart and Piet Hein Eek, partied with Dom Perignon and Jeff Koons, and seen performances by Jonah Bokaer and Pharrell. We almost did yoga with Grey Area, but got (happily) stuck hanging out at NADA instead. We tried to document it all, but it hasn’t been easy — here’s a small taste of what we’ve seen so far! We’ll be back next week with a more comprehensive post, but for now, check out these pics and then head over to our Facebook album to see dozens and dozens more.

  22. 11.11.13
    What We Saw
    Hammer Museum’s Arts ReSTORE

    For all of the handwringing about art being inaccessible, there’s no city planning theory that has gained more traction in this century than the idea of creative people driving neighborhood revitalization. Which means that the descriptively titled “Arts ReSTORE: LA” project isn’t just loftily ambitious. The month-long residency program, which began last week, might actually work at creating a less sterile West Los Angeles, not least because it is supported by the powerhouse Hammer Museum, whose three-story compound anchors one end of the street. On a stretch of Westwood Ave., better known for chain sandwich shops and fluorescent interiors, the Hammer offered a half-dozen empty storefronts to local artists and makers, with the idea that even a temporary infusion would upend the retail mood of the area. If the packed opening night was any indication, this time the theory holds. Here’s what we saw.

  23. 09.30.13
    What We Saw
    At the 2013 New York Art Book Fair

    The 2013 edition of Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair, which is held annually at MoMA PS1, featured a performance by MASKS, a Bruno Munari exhibition, a collage-making party, and the launch of the multi-talented Tauba Auerbach’s new project, Diagonal Press, among other things. Unfortunately, we had to miss it in order to attend a hipster summer camp weekend upstate, but were we jealous? No! Because not only were we clever enough to ask noted bookworm and SU contributor Brian W. Ferry to document it for us, we’d also managed to trick ourselves into believing that attending would have been a terrible idea: It’s a hot, crowded, and sweaty affair, one that has the tantalizing potential each year to completely bankrupt us. So yeah, we totally dodged a bullet, right? Right? Well either way, we can all live vicariously through Brian by checking out his pictures and commentary in this slideshow, after the jump.

  24. 09.25.13
    What We Saw
    At the 2013 London Design Festival

    If someone was going to attend the London Design Festival in our place this year — a circumstance that normally fills us with a mix of raging jealousy and resigned disappointment — we’re super glad it was Matylda Krzykowski, one of our favorite fellow design bloggers, who on her site Mat and Me manages to nail the same up-close-and-personal vibe we hew to here at Sight Unseen. She captured the perfect overview of the fair for us, even though she only had one day to explore it: Her plane in from Hong Kong landed at 5:40AM this past Saturday, at which point she quickly took a bath, rearranged her suitcase, and bolted back out the door by 9:30AM to begin her reportage. “I had literally had six 6 hours that day to look around before departing to Switzerland the next day for my duties at Depot Basel,” she says. “I started off in South Kensington, then hit the Brompton Design District, then Central London, and finally the East End.” How’s that for dedication? Check out the things she spotted, and the people she said hello to along the way, after the jump.

  25. 09.18.13
    What We Saw
    At Capsule New York

    Don’t worry, we’ve got eyes on the ground at the mega–big deal trade fair happening this week — i.e. the London Design Festival — but since your editors are sadly missing out on those festivities, we thought we’d first offer a glimpse inside a trade show we ourselves had never attended until this week: Capsule, the six-year-old, 12-times-a-year fashion and lifestyle event for independent designers. This month was the SS14 women’s edition, and having mostly attended design fairs we weren’t really sure what to expect. Capsule is held at a massive venue on the East River that doubles as basketball court and event space (it’s where the New York edition of the NADA art fair was this spring), and the soundtrack was appropriately bumpin’. We were there mostly to get face time with some of our favorite designers — like Ilana Kohn, Wing Yau, Ellen van Dusen, and SU regulars like Chen Chen and Iacoli & McAllister — but we also spent lots of time browsing in the hopes we’d discover someone new to write about (or something new to take home from the cash-and-carry shop portion, which of course we did in spades.) Here are some of our favorite finds from the afternoon.