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OS ∆ OOS’s Syzygy Lamps

Credit where credit is due: The idea for Sight Unseen's newest column, Self Portrait, came from a chat we had recently with Pin-Up editor Felix Burrichter, over lunch in Soho. "Why don't you feature more products?" he asked us, to which we replied that our site is really about process — not products. Felix suggested we ask designers to pose with their latest works, something more personal than just reporting the news. The notion rattled around in our brains for a few months until it evolved into something even more exciting, at least we think so: A series inviting designers and artists to visually present their creations to us in a unique way, photographing them firsthand in a setting or setup that somehow illuminates the ideas behind the object. Our first submission comes from Oskar Peet, who with his partner Sophie Mensen founded the Eindhoven-based firm OS ∆ OOS this fall, launching with a trio of lamps so beautiful and intriguing that we actually feel grateful to Burrichter for inspiring the perfect platform with which to share them. Check out Peet and Mensen's submission above, then read below about how — and why — they got the shot.
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Okolo Visits Tobias Rehberger’s Studio

For the team behind the Czech curatorial studio and blog Okolo — Adam Štěch, Jakub Štěch, and Matěj Činčera — their work is informed as much by the fact that they're based in Prague, with a front-seat view of all things fascinating in Eastern European design, as it is by the fact that they love to travel. Adam Štěch has toured the region documenting amazing modernist homes, one of which he covered for Wallpaper this fall and more of which you'll see on Sight Unseen in 2012, and the trio recently produced a print magazine devoted entirely to the city of Vienna. They also traveled to Frankfurt in November, visiting a succession of designers' studios and photographing them for the Okolo website, slotting them in between posts about new work by Tomáš Král and the deconstruction of a Phillips auction catalog. One of our favorites was the studio of artist Tobias Rehberger, known for his striking graphical sensibility and his affinity for design and architecture, recently witnessed in the award-winning series of spaces he created in partnership with Artek; we've reposted it here with additional images and text that Adam prepared exclusively for Sight Unseen. Meanwhile, look out for a more extensive collaboration we're preparing with Okolo for later this winter.
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The Bouroullec Brothers in Disegno #1

Designers around the world owe Johanna Agerman Ross a drink, or perhaps even a hug: Her new project, the biannual magazine Disegno, is devoted to letting their work breathe. “I always found it frustrating working for a monthly, because I couldn’t give a subject enough time or space to make it worthwhile,” says the former Icon editor. “For a project that took 10 or 15 years to make, it felt bizarre to represent it in one image, or four pages.” Founded by her and produced with the help of creative director Daren Ellis, Disegno takes some of the visual tropes of fashion magazines — long pictorial features, single-photo spreads, conceptual photography — and marries them with the format of a textbook* and the investigative-reporting ambitions of The New Yorker. The story about Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec which we’ve excerpted here, for example, fills 22 pages of the new issue and runs to nearly 3,000 words; it’s accompanied by images captured over two full days the photographer spent with the brothers, one in their studio and one at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, where they were installing their latest retrospective, “Bivouac.” And articles on Martin Szekely, Azzedine Alaïa, and Issey Miyake’s Yoshiyuki Miyamae are set either over lunch, or in the subject’s living room. The focus, says Agerman Ross, is on proper storytelling. “The people behind the project, the process of making something, even the process of the writer finding out about the story — that’s all part of it,” she says. “It’s the new journalism.” Obviously, we couldn’t agree more.
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DIY Furniture: A Step-By-Step Guide

As lovers of and writers about design, there’s one question we’re constantly asking ourselves: How can we get designers to make us their amazing pieces at cost? But what we nearly always fail to wonder is: Would it actually be possible to make these pieces ourselves?
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Stones have captivated Dabdab since a young age — her grandfather owned a gem shop — and they continue to be a driving force behind most of her creations. In the studio, she sorts her collection by color and size.

Regina Dabdab, Jewelry Designer

“Paris is so beautiful, but it’s also way too cold,” says jewelry maker Regina Dabdab of the city she’s called home for the past six years, referring to its disposition rather than its weather. Despite generations of fashion designers adopting Parisian women as muses — Yves Saint-Laurent had Loulou de La Faliase; Balenciaga loves a classic Françoise Hardy silhouette — for Dabdab, their no-nonsense élan is far too restrained, and too much in contrast with the raw and untamed ethos of her native Brazil. It’s the latter qualities, combined with a strong sense of geometry, Dabdab tries to imbue her work with. “I don’t design for the reserved Parisian woman,” she says. “I think of home.”
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Doshi Levien’s Loves

Sighted on the website of London-based design couple Doshi Levien: A section called Loves, which reveals the inspirations behind the couple's colorful East-meets-West sensibility.
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What is your next project? After making 26 new pieces in the span of a month for the show at Volume, opening tomorrow, Wolfe deserves a break: “Cleaning my apartment," he says.

Thaddeus Wolfe, Glass Artist

When asked if he identifies more as an artist or a designer, Thaddeus Wolfe seems genuinely stumped. But perhaps it’s that way for anyone working with glass, a material that’s notoriously hard to confine: “I don’t think I’m a great designer,” he muses. “Maybe it’s because I’m not a master of glass yet that I never quite get what I intend. But sometimes cool things happen from mistakes.” It’s a pretty self-deprecating summation of process coming from someone whose chaotic, mysteriously opaque Assemblage vases for MatterMade are the subject of a solo exhibition opening tomorrow at Chicago’s Volume Gallery, which has in the year and a half since it opened become somewhat of a barometer for the Next Big Thing.
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Geometry: “One of my previous shoots for Case Da Abitare, photographed by Thomas Brown, was based on the idea of a graphic house. I found great shapes and patterns in obscure old books about the street signs and signage of 1960s America.”

Despina Curtis, Stylist

Despina Curtis is in her early 30s, and yet when she talks about her college days, it sounds a bit like one of those stories your grandparents tell about having to walk shoeless through the snow to get to school every day. Curtis studied printed textile design at the University of Manchester, and it was only when she left that the program’s first-year students were beginning to use digital design and printing tools — she had to do everything analog, even when it came to her eventual focus on huge 6-by-6-foot canvases layered with painting and screenprints. And yet, unlike hyperbolic ancestral poverty tales, hers had an obvious upside: All that drawing and hands-on work primed her for her current career as a stylist for the likes of Wallpaper and Casa Da Abitare.
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Max Lipsey’s Acciaio Series

It was hard not to feel a burst of pride when, after introducing Matter's Jamie Gray to Max Lipsey in advance of his appearance in our 2011 Noho Next showcase, we heard the pair had a major collab in the works. Unveiled at the Qubique fair in Berlin in October, Lipsey's Acciaio: Stage 2 collection for MatterMade picks up where the Eindhoven-based designer's first bicycle-inspired series left off, ratcheting up the proportions of the welded-steel objects and forming them into more complicated, experimental shapes, like the turquoise table/cabinet hybrid pictured above. There is, however, one significant difference: While the new pieces are limited-edition only, Lipsey himself manufactures the originals, slaving away in his workshop to produce each and every order by hand. Earlier this week, he sent Sight Unseen a short video documenting how he does it — which you can watch here — and obliged to answer a few questions for us about how the process has since evolved.
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Carly Mayer: The Window

From Monday through Thursday of this week, Sight Unseen is featuring a documentary project by British sculptor Carly Mayer, who indulged her personal curiosity about the factories surrounding her home in Brighton, England, by inviting herself over to photograph their inner workings. For the fourth and final installment, Mayer roams around a small window workshop called Balcombe Glass. ""From an artistic standpoint, I can’t help but find glass beautiful in its most polished and righteous state," she says. "I spent a long time staring at the stock, imagining the pieces as sculptures in their own right. The machinery used to cut the glass fascinated me as well; I expected it to appear menacing and sharp whereas in truth it stood rather friendly, allowing me to photograph its rubber stoppers used to hold the glass firmly in place during production."
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Carly Mayer: The Ratchet Strap

From Monday through Thursday of this week, Sight Unseen is featuring a documentary project by British sculptor Carly Mayer, who indulged her personal curiosity about the factories surrounding her home in Brighton, England, by inviting herself over to photograph their inner workings. Today she explores the making of the humble ratchet strap, overlooked by many but essential to some. "Personally, I had never given the humble ratchet strap much thought," Mayer writes. "It serves a purpose not universal or common, but practical and specialist. Most of us would never have any need for one. As I ventured into the factory, I was greeted by several heavy-duty sewing machines, and unlike the typical assembly line, a more fractured setup, with pods of people working on specific tasks. The stacks of brightly colored, coiled strapping looked like massive sweets in an out-of-scale candy shop."
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Carly Mayer: The Firework

From Monday through Thursday of this week, Sight Unseen is featuring a documentary project by British sculptor Carly Mayer, who indulged her personal curiosity about the factories surrounding her home in Brighton, England, by inviting herself over to photograph their inner workings. "Wells fireworks is, strangely enough, situated on the Duke of Norfolk’s estate in Arundel in West Sussex," Mayer says of today's installment. "What looks like a familiar farmhouse outbuilding with a stunning countryside backdrop is actually home to a successful pyrotechnic manufacturing plant. The business was originally started in 1837 by Joseph Wells — after he'd made a living as an explosive-lighter on the River Thames in London, but long before the Pussycat Dolls' tour would benefit from his company's products."
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Carly Mayer: The Roof Tile

From Monday through Thursday of this week, Sight Unseen is featuring a documentary project by British sculptor Carly Mayer, who indulged her personal curiosity about the factories surrounding her home in Brighton, England, by inviting herself over to photograph their inner workings. First up is the Keymer roof-tile factory. "Keymer is set back into the beautiful countryside of Burgess Hill, Sussex," Mayer writes. "Upon approaching the factory, the first thing that strikes you is the massive abundance of crates stacked with perfectly formed and notably familiar roof tiles. The next would be the sheer size of this 50-acre site, one of the oldest surviving brick and tile companies still laboring from a clay pit, which reaches as far as the eye can see. The business itself traces back to 1588 and was moved to its current site in 1860, exactly where I stood with my digital SLR camera. There was an instant sense of being thrown full-pelt back in time, as the whole essence of the operation was so delicately preserved. It gave me a child-like desire to pick up a stick and explore."
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