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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 09.05.13
    What We Saw
    At Boisbuchet with Snarkitecture

    For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Domaine de Boisbuchet is basically glorified summer camp for designers: It’s an old chateau and grounds in the middle of the French countryside where, each week for 12 weeks, two or three contemporary designers or studios are invited to host a creative workshop for a group of students and professionals. During downtime, you can canoe, swim in the lake, lay in the grass, drink beers, swing from trees, attend dance parties, or sit around a bonfire and stargaze — it’s pretty much rural heaven. So it was a tiny bit funny to be there last week with Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen of Snarkitecture, who are best-known for their work with white styrofoam, fancy fashion brands, and hip-hop superstars, and who this week are hard at work back in New York installing a 20-foot-tall carved-foam mountain as a backdrop for the runway show of leather-sweatpant purveyor (and Kanye favorite) En|Noir. Luckily you can not only take the boys out of the city, you can take the city out of the boys, whose first instruction to the participants in their “Excavations” workshop was to dredge up wheelbarrows full of dirt, clay, and sand from the lake and its surroundings. The group then spent five days doing hand-casting experiments in the sunshine, in order to “take familiar, everyday objects and find ways to manipulate and alter them to make them serve new and unexpected purposes,” as Mustonen put it. After the jump, check out all the photos we took documenting the process from start to finish.

  5. 07.15.13
    What We Saw
    At the Brimfield Antique Show, Summer 2013

    If you tell people you’re going to Brimfield — the massive, thrice-yearly outdoor antique fair in central Massachusetts that famously lures the country’s best vintage pickers as well as interiors teams from stores like Ralph Lauren and J. Crew — you start getting loads of conflicting advice: what day to arrive, which of the 21 fields has the best merch, and even whether you should go for the ribs or the lobster roll (or something kind of amazing we discovered this time called the Pilgrim Sandwich. Seriously, get it.) But the one thing everyone agrees on? Don’t go in July.

  6. 06.17.13
    What We Saw
    At DMY 2013

    One half of Sight Unseen may currently be stationed in Berlin, but when it came to covering DMY last week — the 10-year-old fair for young designers that takes place here annually at the decommissioned Tempelhof airport — we passed the torch to our longtime friend and sometime SU contributor, Thorsten van Elten of the online shop Theo, while we jetted off to Basel. In Berlin from London for a few days on a whim, partly to check out the fair’s offerings and partly as a tax-deductible excuse to revisit one of his favorite cities, van Elten documented for us his personal DMY selections, but also key moments from his romp through town — all couched in his crazy sense of humor. Scroll through his DMY travel diary below, then head over to Theo to check out what he does for a living.

  7. 06.14.13
    What We Saw
    At Design/Miami Basel and Art Basel 2013

    This week, I got more than a few emails from friends and family members flummoxed by my trip to Art Basel. “You’re where???” exclaimed my mother, halfway believing I’d temporarily left my annual summer sojourn in Berlin to double back to Miami for three days. That’s because while Sight Unseen has been a longtime devotee of the Floridian version of the international design and art fair — stretching back to our I.D. magazine days — we’ve never managed to make it to the Swiss edition, which is even more extensive. Turns out 2013 was a pretty amazing year to call our first: Design Miami/Basel moved into the incredible new Herzog & de Meuron building, expanding its show in the process, and Art Basel totally killed it with the Untitled show of large-scale works, featuring a new piece by the wonder twins of contemporary installation art, Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe. Artsy made my trip 10 times easier with its extensive online preview of both shows (not to mention an ingenious iPhone-charging station at its ROLU-designed fair booth), and Craig Robins put the cherry on top by letting Kanye West preview his new album — and perform a song a mere 8 feet in front of me — with less than 7 hours’ notice. You totally should have been there, but if you weren’t, here’s the Sight Unseen rundown.

  8. 06.03.13
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2013, Part V: The Rest

    New York Design Week may already feel like a distant memory, but we couldn’t move on to covering the upcoming Design Miami Basel fair — or start publishing all the amazing studio visits and house tours we’ve been saving up for the past few weeks — without doing one last post about all the offsite shows we saw (and didn’t see) during this year’s ICFF. From magnified eyeballs to garbage arches to our favorite watering can of all time, check out the official Sight Unseen roundup below.

  9. 05.30.13
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2013, Part IV: ICFF

    We had a dream for ICFF this year: to set up a “Sight Unseen Canteen” staffed by an avant-garde chef who would purchase food items from the conference center cafeteria and recast them into amazing gourmet meals, a bit like the now-defunct website Fancy Fast Food. The reason we had this dream (which we still hope to someday realize) is that no one in their right mind ever has anything good to say about the Javits itself — the climate, the lighting, and of course, the hideous, overpriced cuisine — and so pretty much everyone, we figured, would get the joke. If we could add on a foot massage station, a napping pod, and a daylight simulator, our vision would truly be complete. But alas, this year all there was to comfort weary fairgoers like us was plain old great design, and the joy of running into old friends and colleagues, and so we had no choice but to settle for that. We came, we saw, we conquered.

  10. 05.28.13
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2013, Part III: Jambox at Noho Next

    This year’s Noho Next show didn’t just look amazing — it sounded amazing, too. That’s because in the exhibition’s flagship space, Sight Unseen created a special installation for Noho Design District sponsor Jawbone, a kind of video listening area decked out not only with the brand’s latest wireless speakers, but with an array of furnishings and objects culled from some of our very favorite designers — from Paul Loebach to Tom Dixon. Styled with the help of Seattle’s Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, the space invited Noho Next visitors to kick back, relax, and experience the sound of Jawbone’s latest BIG JAMBOXES, which are newly available in more than 100 customizable color combinations. Check out the setup after the jump, plus watch the seven designer-made videos that Sight Unseen hand-picked to screen over the weekend.

  11. 05.24.13
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2013, Part II: Noho Next

    In our fourth year of producing the Noho Design District, we’ve learned a few things. Namely: That while industrial, disused spaces have loads of charm, they also run the risk of leaking when those May showers hit. After two years of emergency sandbagging and climbing onto roofs in our galoshes, we decided it was time to go legit. So when we heard last fall that 45 Bleecker Street — which played host to Tom Dixon’s labyrinthine underground exhibition in 2012 — was about to undergo a gut renovation, to be reborn as a music events space, we knew we wanted in. We decided early on that the space would be filled with up-and-coming talents for our Noho Next exhibition, which in the past has proved a bellwether for design stardom, featuring the likes of Jonah Takagi, ROLU, Fort Standard, Iacoli & McAllister, and Brendan Ravenhill. We have a feeling this year’s edition will prove no different.

  12. 05.23.13
    What We Saw
    At New York Design Week 2013, Part I: The Noho Design District

    Each time we start to celebrate the end of yet another successful edition of our Noho Design District project — this one being our fourth, if you can believe it — it’s not long before a certain realization hits us like a ton of bricks: We only really get a few short months to recover before we have to start the process allllll over again. We began planning in the fall for the 2013 edition of the show, which ran from May 17-20 and which we’ll be recapping on Sight Unseen today and tomorrow, and it’s almost impossible to fathom how much work could go into a four-day event that nevertheless flew by so quickly. There were spaces to secure (thanks, SubCulture!), flyers to finagle (thanks, Benjamin Critton!), and press-preview pastries to provide (thanks, The Smile!). And of course we had to find the perfect brand to partner with to help support all the amazing emerging talents we offer a platform to (thanks, Jawbone!). But in the end all that work would have amounted to naught had our exhibitors failed to bust out with some of the most stunning and inspiring designs we’ve ever shown, from the simplest concrete domino set to painstakingly elaborate chandeliers, light-up neon desks, and textile installations. In case you weren’t lucky enough to join us for this year’s event, we’ve put together a roundup of its highlights, the first half of which is featured in the slideshow at right; stay tuned for coverage of Noho Next, ICFF, and other offsite shows to come. And thanks to everyone who joined us this weekend!

  13. 05.14.13
    What We Saw
    At the 2013 Frieze New York Art Fair

    Halfway through our ferry ride across Manhattan’s East River to Randall’s Island this weekend, thunder rang out, the skies opened up, and a torrential downpour enveloped our little boat, ruining our hair and prompting dozens of our fellow travelers to whip out their iPhone cameras with glee. But neither rain nor sleet nor snow was going to keep us away from this year’s Freize Art Fair, especially after we missed the 2012 show due to Noho Design District preparations and — through the reports of friends and critics — definitely lived to regret it. Once we were inside the giant white tent (designed by the local architecture firm SO-IL), snapping away on our own iPhones while drooling over the smell of Mission Chinese that hovered mercilessly over the central arc of the space, we didn’t mind so much that our feet were sloshing around inside our shoes. We managed to see nearly everything — including an amazing performance piece by our favorite, Tino Sehgal — identified several strange recurring trends (art made on or from mirrors, references to outdated technologies), and had a major celeb spotting (Jared Leto) to boot. Check out some of the pieces we Instagrammed after the jump, then head over to our Facebook gallery to see even more photos.

  14. 04.15.13
    What We Saw
    AT THE 2013 MILAN FURNITURE FAIR, PART II

    If, like us, you spent the last week in Milan, catching up with old friends, meeting those with whom you’d only traded emails (hi Fredrik Paulsen, Adam Stech and Katrin Greiling!), and making new ones — well, you’re probably in a bit of withdrawal as well. Milan, despite being frequently cloudy, transportation-unfriendly, and just too darn full of things to see, showed us an excellent time this year, and we’re only just now recovering. But this post helps! It includes some of our favorite photos from the second half of our trip, but there are many, many more in our Facebook album — click here to check it out!

  15. 04.12.13
    What We Saw
    At the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair, Part I

    Greetings from Milano! Between all the Negronis and risottos, the late-night parties and the trips to Bar Basso, the Sight Unseen team has spent the past week treasure-hunting at the annual Salone del Mobile, and we’re excited to share with you our first batch of finds. This post includes our favorite photos from days 1 […]

  16. 12.10.12
    What We Saw
    At Art Basel Miami Beach 2012

    The thing about Miami is that what you see when you do head down for the annual art and design extravaganza can often be frustratingly little. Between the city’s grueling traffic, the lure of its glittering beaches, the daytime pool parties, and the later-than-usual nights, it’s a wonder anyone can make it through the entire convention center and its neighboring Design/Miami tent, much less the satellite art fairs, the Wynwood galleries, the museum shows, the new boutiques, and the odd day trip out to see new work installed in places like the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. At the same time, as a journalist, you really have seen it all before, what with the endless previews and press releases. And so you’re caught endlessly swinging back and forth between anticipation and letdown, which you conclude can only be cured by a wine-soaked lunch on a patio overlooking the ocean, or an hour spent by the pool. (Are you getting a sense of our week yet?) Of course, some work had to be done, so though a few of our favorite projects went undocumented, we managed to catch the majority of the rest on film.

  17. 11.23.12
    What We Saw
    At London’s Frieze Art Fair

    Which furniture designs do discerning art dealers truly prefer? Not to sell, but to sit in? That was the age-old question that photographer Sanna Helena Berger set out to answer while traversing the aisles of last month’s Frieze Art Fair. Her utterly unscientific answer? Four out of five discerning art dealers prefer Friso Kramer, or failing that, some variation on mid-century bentwood. Quelle surprise. A Swedish photographer based in London, Berger chose to hone in on the subject after her maiden voyage to Frieze — tagging along with a friend’s art class — proved otherwise underwhelming. “The space itself is divided into cubicles, very much like an overcrowded office, except that everything is crisp, bright, and white and within the cubicles the office wear is of a higher standard,” she explains. “Obviously I don’t claim that there was no worthwhile art there, because there certainly was, but the environment, the space, and the curation were not for me.” Instead of complaining, though, and jeopardizing her friend’s happy experience, Berger pulled out her camera and devoted the rest of the day to documenting art-booth furniture. Then she decided to share the results with usThen she decided to share the results with us, in a behind-the-scenes exposé that will no doubt put a lot of curious minds at ease, once and for all.

  18. 11.12.12
    What We Saw
    At the 2012 Dutch Design Week

    It’s been a tough two years for Dutch design. First a newly elected right-wing government slashed the tiny country’s legendary arts funding, causing seemingly irreparable damage to its institutions and grant programs, and then a series of high-profile resignations called into question the inner workings of Eindhoven’s hallowed Design Academy. But even if there are signs that the fairy-tale may not last — that creativity and experimentalism can’t elude the death-grip of capitalism forever, even in a place where designers still benefit from squatters’ rights — we still look forward to Dutch Design Week as a reminder of the happier consequences of those values. While we couldn’t attend this year ourselves, we asked our faithful contributor Marco Tabasso, who’s second-in-command at Rossana Orlandi gallery in Milan, to report back on his experiences at the festival — from his mixed feelings about the Design Academy show to the paella dinner he and Rossana shared with Nacho Carbonell in the designer’s studio, above.

  19. 11.09.12
    What We Saw
    At the 2012 Łódź Design Festival

    Over the past two years, there’s been an explosion of design weeks popping up on this side of the pond, in smaller, more far-flung American metropolises like Portland, St. Louis, and Baltimore. But Europe’s had a hold on this whole second-city-hosts-a-worldwide-design-event for years now. Take Lodz, the third-largest city in Poland, whose design festival is already six years strong. The Lodz Design Festival plays host to homegrown talents like Tomek Rygalik, as well as designers from abroad — both of which were a draw to our newest correspondent and dear friend Thorsten Van Elten, the London-based producer and retailer who reported on the event for us last week. But the real attraction, says Van Elten, was the city of Lodz itself. “At the beginning of this year I went to Transylvania, and I decided that I really need to travel to more places I’ve never been to. Poland was high on the list so when I saw a link on Facebook about the Łódź Design Festival, I checked for flights and hotel and managed to find two nights for just over £100. There really was no excuse not to go!”

  20. 10.22.12
    What We Saw
    At the Istanbul Design Biennial

    Last week marked the beginning of the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial, curated by Joseph Grima and Emre Arolat and organized by the local cultural foundation IKVS — the same organization behind the city’s contemporary art biennial. We’re homebound until Design Miami but our intrepid London-based correspondent Claire Walsh bravely reported back on her maiden voyage, which included a tour of the official biennial festivities (on view until mid-December) but also the occasional foray into Istanbul’s neighborhoods to capture urban texture, like the Memphis-style painted columns above. “Istanbul’s art biennial is renowned for tackling heavy themes, so there was a lot to measure up to!” she says. “Titled Kusurluluk (or “imperfection” in plain old English), this biennial posed pivotal questions about design’s role in growing metropolises like Istanbul, archaic organization, and what we understand design to be. This wasn’t about tables and chairs. Hell no — this was cerebral. Here are some of my favorite photos and moments from my trip.”

  21. 09.26.12
    What We Saw
    At the London Design Festival, Part IV

    Less than a week after we left the London Design Festival, it already feels like a distant memory — mostly because as of yesterday, we’ve already shifted our focus to making plans for the next edition of our own design showcase, the 2013 Noho Design District. And yet to some degree, we’re also already drawing on what we saw at the LDF for inspiration: While we may not have access, in the middle of downtown Manhattan, to the kind of stunning 150,000-sqft. former mail-sorting facility that Designjunction had the luxury of spreading out in last week (incorporating multiple cafes and a pop-up version of the new online shop FAO, pictured above), we do have a few new talents on our hit list, a few schemes cooked up over drinks with old friends, and a few programming strategies to mull over. Meanwhile, we’re offering you one last chance to see what we saw at the festival, which though it was by no means everything, will hopefully give you something to mull over, too.

  22. 09.21.12
    What We Saw
    At The London Design Festival, Part III

    When you visit the show Image for a Title, curated by Study O Portable as part of the Brompton Design District, you can just about conjure the illusion that you’re in a world-class design-art gallery in some chic back alley of Paris, rather than a sunlight-starved basement at a hard-to-find address that happened to be printed incorrectly in this year’s Icon Design Trail guide. The show looks — and reads — so impressively that you start to believe what you want to believe rather than the reality, which is that many of the LDF’s visitors are likely to inadvertently miss out on seeing it, and that when it’s over many of the pieces will, shrugs co-curator Bernadette Deddens, probably just wind up in storage. Welcome to the placebo effect, or at least our crude metaphorical approximation of it: the ability of humans to bestow a pill, an object, or in this case an exhibition with the qualities they expect or desire it to have. Deddens and her partner in crime, Tetsuo Mukai, invited a handful of designers to join them in exploring the possibilities of placebo thinking, producing an installation so well resolved that we’re going to go right on insisting it’s one of the top gallery shows on offer this week. Although, being more realists than dreamers, we’ve decided to help actualize our version of events by publicizing the show here on Sight Unseen. Check out each of its five projects below, and if you still have time to go see them before it closes at the end of the weekend, make sure to map your way to 8 Edgerton Gardens Mews.

  23. 09.19.12
    What We Saw
    At the London Design Festival, Part II

    Just as everyone else is arriving in London, our time here is winding down — we have one last day today to take in the sights and sounds before flying home tomorrow, and we’ll be spending most of it at one of the more newsworthy events of the week, Designjunction. There’s going to be quite a few new releases happening at the Central London hub, but if you want to know the truth, we’re most excited about seeing the building, a 250,000-sqft. industrial complex that should make a sublime backdrop for our humble photography efforts. Meanwhile, we’ve documented the last two days’ worth of events and shows here, from a trip to the Mint gallery where we spied the marbled stools above to a plop onto the motley mix of benches arrayed around the V&A courtyard, all made by various design superstars. There’s no way we’ll make it to everything by tomorrow, but we’ve got a lot more to share, so keep coming back to visit us please!

  24. 09.17.12
    What We Saw
    At the London Design Festival, Part I

    The first time we attended the London Design Festival, five years ago now, it became something of a benchmark for us — the design event against which we not only measured other design events, but would come to measure our own, the Noho Design District. That’s because when you attend the LDF, you feel like you couldn’t be anywhere else but in London; the spotlight is resolutely on emerging homegrown talents (thanks in part to the RCA) and there are always brand new projects and product launches to see (thanks in part to the fact that, unlike ICFF, the festival takes place halfway between Milan fairs). LDF has such a good reputation, in fact, that even the coalition behind New York City’s official efforts to organize an as-yet-unnamed New York design week are looking to it for inspiration — can you imagine Tom Dixon giving away 500 free lamps in the middle of Times Square? It may happen sooner than you think. In the meantime, three years after our last trip to our favorite fair, we’ve returned, and we’ll be making the rounds all week reporting on who and what we see here. After arriving on Friday morning, we had a bit of a slow start, poking around Shoreditch and hanging out with the incredibly gifted duo behind Silo Studio, whom we’ll introduce in depth in the coming weeks. Check out the images here, and stay tuned for many more.

  25. 06.20.12
    What We Saw
    At Design Miami/Basel 2012

    When Design Miami rolls around each winter, it’s hard to resist the siren’s song of sunshine in December, no matter how much you’ve decided you hate standing in line for parties or how high the hotel rates might balloon during that frenetic week. We’ve been known to pool resources with friends far and wide in order to hop on flights and hightail it out of New York on the promise of a stolen afternoon at the Standard’s pool, or even a press brunch at some Collins Avenue hotel du jour. But we’ve never made it to the event that started it all: Design Miami/Basel and its legendary accompanying art fair. Lucky for us, then, that we alighted this year on the perfect correspondent: Marco Tabasso, known in design circles as Rossana Orlandi’s right-hand man, who took advantage of a rare two-day break (the gallery sat this year out, after having debuted a massive Nacho Carbonell installation in 2011) to zip around the Swiss metropolis, capturing everything he saw for us on proverbial film.