A view of the house — with Ramakers at work at the dining table — from the so-called “winter room.” It has a fireplace and a few of the couple's dozens of themed bookshelves, including one full of hundreds of travel guides. The clock on the wall is an antique, from the ’20s.

Renny Ramakers, Director of Droog

First-time travelers to Amsterdam — perceptive ones, anyway — need only to spend a day navigating its cobbled streets to notice what makes the experience so singular. The buildings are old and narrow, and many seem perilously cockeyed. With their decorative facades and fanciful gables, they resemble oversized gingerbread houses. And when you walk by them, you witness a sight even more peculiar than all of the above: an unobstructed view straight into the living rooms and kitchens of the people who live inside, who refrain from hanging curtains even at ground level. As a locally based friend explained to me on a recent visit, the Dutch may value privacy just as much as the rest of us, but they also take a certain pride in proving they have nothing to hide. This was the thought running through my mind the day that Renny Ramakers, co-founder and director of the influential Dutch design laboratory Droog, let me wander around inside her home unsupervised, snapping hundreds of voyeuristic photos of her possessions while she worked calmly away at her dining table.
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Samare

Through today, Sight Unseen is showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Here, Nicolas Bellevance-Lecompte, one quarter of the Montreal and Milan–based design studio Samare and the co-founder of the Carwan gallery itself, tells us about the group's new and strikingly geometric felted-wool rugs, made in collaboration with the Belgian textile designers Antonin Bachet and Linda Topic. The project is the latest addition to Samare's ongoing Pays d’en Haut Legacy series, which investigates and then reinterprets the vernacular forms and decorative motifs of Canada's upper country, home to its logging and fur trades. Since their studio launch in 2008, they've worked with local snowshoe craftsman, weavers, and furriers in an attempt to show the world — and their fellow Canadians — how these longtime traditions and crafts can still prove relevant to contemporary culture. After the Milan fair, the rugs will travel to New York, where they'll be presented by the design store Matter during ICFF.
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Carwan Gallery Launch: My Bauhaus is Better Than Yours

Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Next up are designs from My Bauhaus is Better Than Yours, a loose collective of young German studios — most of whom studied at the Bauhaus University in Weimar — that banded together two years ago as a way to mount exhibitions in design hotspots like Milan and DMY Berlin. The group has since evolved into a full-fledged design label with the ability to manufacture and distribute the designs of its members, and it has plans to launch a webshop later this week. We spoke with Daniel Klapsing, one half of the Berlin-based duo 45 Kilo and de facto leader of the newly formed label, and put together a preview of designs from several of the group’s other members as well.
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Paul Loebach

Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. When we asked Brooklynite Paul Loebach which of the four products he'll bring to the show had the most intriguing backstory, he immediately nominated his Watson table, a sandwich of carbon fiber and wood with double-helix legs that took him two and a half years to develop. Like the rest of Loebach's oeuvre, the table reinterprets historical craftsmanship techniques using cutting-edge technologies, evoking yet another novel property from a material as old and as simple as wood. "I named the table after the guy who discovered DNA," Loebach says. "I felt like a scientist doing this project, so I named it after one."
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Lindsey Adelman

Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Today’s subject is Lindsey Adelman, who works out of a tiny studio in the back of Manhattan design store The Future Perfect but creates her sprawling, modular chandelier series at Urban Glass, a Brooklyn atelier that’s created work for the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Eva Zeisel, and Robert Rauschenberg. “Building visual tension is a theme that’s always interested me,” says Adelman. And in her latest work Catch, which features slumping glass orbs blown through oversized brass links, it’s the tension between “the fluid fragility of the glass and the strict, flat, weighty links. Mashing together the feminine and the masculine — something interesting usually happens,” she says.
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The first part of the magazine introduced the tourists and residents populating Vörland, as well as the strange devices and rituals they had come up with to deal with the searing heat. This young girl wears a special full-body swimsuit, hand-stitched by Fabrica's fashion team, designed to block out the sun.

Welcome to Vörland, by Reed Young

Reed Young’s photography career has taken him from a sumo wrestler’s home in Tokyo to the sugarcane fields of the Dominican Republic to the halls of Fabrica, the Benetton-owned creative lab for young talent in Treviso, Italy. But he probably wouldn’t have gotten to any of those places if he hadn’t faked his way into art school. At 17 and a middling student at a Minneapolis senior high, Young, now 27, borrowed a photography portfolio from a friend and was accepted into his hometown’s prestigious Perpich Center for Arts Education on its merits. “When I arrived, I think they found it a bit strange that I didn’t know the difference between an aperture and a shutter speed,” he says.
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Philippe Malouin

Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. First up is Montreal-born, London-based Philippe Malouin, whose projects merge a highly conceptual framework with a practical, process-based approach and visually pleasing geometries. His Gridlock series, for example, shrunk the construction of architectural cross-bracing down to a domestic scale, employing it to make lamps and mobiles, while his new Yachiyo rug uses an ancient Japanese chain-mail technique to create an indestructible floor covering that takes 3,000 hours and an army of interns to produce. Here, Malouin explains how — and why — he did it.
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A 19th-century buttonholer. Next to it are new casts of Recht’s concrete belt buckles. To make them, Recht takes rusted nails reclaimed from abandoned building sites, bends them into shape, grinds soft the sharp points, and coats them in clear acrylic varnish. The nails are then suspended in a mold as the concrete is poured around them.

Sruli Recht, fashion designer

Sruli Recht was born in Jerusalem, spent most of his life in Australia, and for the past few years has called Reykjavik, Iceland, his home. But even before he was a foreign-born talent rising to prominence in a city of fiercely local independence, he was already a bit of an outsider. “We traveled to different countries a lot as a kid,” says Recht. “I was always confused about what people wore and the language of clothing. I was very anxious about what to wear and how to fit in. That’s probably why I now just wear jeans and a T-shirt — like everybody else, I just wanted to blend in.” It’s an ironic thing coming from a designer who in January released his first full menswear line, a 55-piece collection of beautifully constructed garments — at once futuristic and cozy — that aren’t exactly for the faint of fashion heart. Or from a designer who calls his studio in the city’s Fishpacking District The Armoury. “The Icelanders don’t seem to get it. They really do think we sell weapons, and we have maybe three visitors to the store a day just looking for guns,” Recht has said.
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Photographer Tim Barber on the UO Blog

In a recent interview with the New York–based photographer Tim Barber, who's known for his edgy portraits of artists and other downtown tastemakers, the folks behind the Urban Outfitters blog evoked some rather unconventional subject matter: UFOs, ghosts, chicken carcasses. Credit the fact that not only did the former Vice Magazine photo editor shoot UO's playful new spring catalog, but he's also currently judging a Weirdest Photo Contest for the retail giant. Of course, in his work with clients like Nike, Woolrich Woolen Mills, T magazine, Italian Vogue, and Stella McCartney, Barber has displayed a more serious side as well. We wanted to show both of them, so we went through his portfolio and chose some new photos to accompany our excerpt from the UO interview — instances where Barber has documented the private spaces of creatives, a la Sight Unseen.
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“I have always been fascinated by the lively Icelandic cultural scene as well as its geographical uniqueness,” Vendramin writes in her project description, echoing our sentiments. “It is in the Icelandic landscape, in fact, that many artists like Katrin Sigurdardottir, Ragnar Kjartansson, or Olafur Eliasson find the inspiration to create.”

DesignMarch 2011 in Reykjavik

What Iceland may lack in sunshine — getting, on average, less than half the amount of rays New Yorkers enjoy annually — it easily compensates for in natural beauty. When it's light outside, the landscape is an almost otherworldly sight, with blackened crags of lava softened by bright heaps of moss and glaciers melting into never-ending expanses of steel-blue sea. When it's dark, there's a symphony of northern lights to behold. With all of that visual stimulation surrounding them it's no wonder Icelanders are aesthetically gifted, with a fashion sense that rivals Stockholm's in its cacophany of colors and textures and a community of designers that needn't look further than their own backyards for inspiration. When Sight Unseen was invited to Reykjavik this past weekend to attend the opening of Iceland's third annual DesignMarch festival, that was precisely what struck us most: Whether the work we saw directly referenced the country's landscape and culture or just told a story about its current state of affairs — as with one designer we met who had to shutter her architecture practice after the bank crash and start anew — the show felt like a singularly local celebration.
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Black Markers: "My tools change all the time. I could be painting with acrylic or working on my Wacom tablet, but I usually have some black marker with me — Posca, Sharpie, Pentel — to improvise with in my dead time. These are the markers I've been using lately, and on them I have drawn some of the characters starring in this story: one orange, a gym towel, a dog, Maite (my girlfriend), and me."

Antonio Ladrillo, Graphic Artist

In the googly-eyed character world created by Barcelona-based graphic artist Antonio Ladrillo, you might see shades of Cartman, or maybe the Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry’s Busytown books. But though the 36-year-old artist counts among his influences illustrators like Olle Eksell, David Shrigley, and Bruno Munari, the one thing he returns to over and over again is Super Mario Brothers, the NES videogame created in 1985 by Japanese artist Shigeru Miyamoto. “It’s fascinated me for years, but I only started to value it as something artistic when I was older,” says Ladrillo. “It perfectly combines my main interests: rhythm, color, shape, and space. I often go to it as a way to find some aesthetic pleasure.” It should come as no surprise then to anyone familiar with Ladrillo’s drawings that, like a videogame artist, he can't help but constantly imagine his characters in motion. “So much so, that for a time I couldn’t draw anything that wasn’t moving because it looked unfinished to me,” he says.
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Point Supreme Architects, Athens: "'We generally create collages to illustrate our ideas and physical models to test their application in space,' says partner Konstantinos Pantazis. 'But each project demands work in different techniques and each type of illustration communicates differently. The simultaneous use of collage, model, sketch, painting and render for each of our projects offers the ultimate result.'"

Architects’ Sketchbooks

In the context of the hysteria currently surrounding all things old-fashioned and handmade, it makes a certain sense to mount an examination of architecture's low-tech roots: those hand-rendered sketches and schematics that still tend to quietly precede even the most digitally advanced structures. It's debatable whether the practice as a whole is consciously returning to those roots, as the new book Architects' Sketchbooks argues, but when the architects who find joy in committing their thoughts to paper open their notepads for all to see, the appeal runs deeper than any cultural trend. "For me, the process is often more fascinating than the end result, and at the heart of architecture, which is part of the process of building worlds, lies the language of drawing," writes Narinder Sagoo of Foster + Partners in the book's foreword.
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Todd Bracher, Brooklyn Navy Yard

Like a lot of American designers fresh out of school, Todd Bracher found himself, in the late ’90s, a newly minted graduate of the industrial design program at Pratt designing things like barbecue tools, remote-control caddies, and spice racks. “I remember scratching my head, thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is what design is?’” he recalls one morning from his studio in Brooklyn. Convinced there was something he was missing, Bracher applied for a Fulbright and ended up at age 24 heading to Copenhagen to pursue a master’s in interior and furniture design. What followed was a nine-year boot camp in the rigors of designing for the European market, studded with turns in Milan at Zanotta (where he was the legendary Italian company’s youngest ever designer), London at Tom Dixon (who poached Bracher to help build his London office) and Paris, where he taught part-time and eventually opened up a studio. But personal reasons brought him back to the States in 2007, and the director at Pratt — one of the only people Bracher knew at that point on this side of the ocean — hooked him up with the space he currently occupies in the no man’s land that is the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “My fear, in some ways, is having a place that doesn’t feel like me — which is hard because I don’t necessarily feel like myself in America,” says Bracher.
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