Okay, so we’ve always had a thing for grids and geometrics in the Sight Unseen Shop, it’s true. But when we thought about which new pieces to release in advance of a *huge* shop update we’re currently prepping for the fall — one that will be full of painterly ceramics, color-washed concrete, and cool, polished metals — the playfully patterned items you see here just seemed especially right for summer. They’re by three designers working in three very different materials — Dana Haim in ceramics, Assembly in PVC, and RillRill in marble — and they all share the most Sight Unseen-y characteristic of all: being handmade in small batches by folks whose creativity knows no bounds. What better excuse for a summer splurge?
If the best reason to know the rules is to be smarter about breaking them, then consider the year-old collaboration between designers Albert Chu and Jennifer Myers not so much a violent upheaval but an exercise in playfully tweaking the system. Chu and Myers met while studying at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design — an institution they say reinforced their respect for constraints — and each worked in architecture and launched an accessories line before combining their shared pedagogy into a series of leather and brass pouches. “I think working within, and rebelling against, a set of parameters is actually the ultimate in design fun,” Myers says. Chu agrees: “We love working with fundamentals and trying to introduce a slight deviation,” says the designer of Otaat, which stands for “one thing at a time.” “Harvard was about being restrained in the conceptual and design intervention, that sometimes the most effective and thorough result could arise from a minimal, subtle act.”
There’s much that sets DAMM Design apart from the current crop of up-and-coming American designers, but perhaps the most obvious thing is the town they call home: Brenda and Robert Zurn, the married couple who founded DAMM in 2013, have lived and raised five children in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the better part of two decades. To the casual observer, it’s the most random town to have produced great design since Donald Judd went to Marfa. But as Brenda explains: “Although St. Petersburg used to be known as a retirement destination, the art scene is vibrant, and we live in an area saturated with glass blowers. Chihuly is here; Duncan McClellan is here.” Despite the proximity to so many hot shops, the Zurns only recently began working with blown glass. The majority of their lamps are made from elemental materials — brass, wood, marble, copper, or concrete, often buffed or blackened to bring out the material’s inherent beauty. They deviate from that natural palette in the most delightfully whimsical of ways — an enameled mint terrace meant to evoke the Art Deco aesthetic of their home state, or an ombre motorcycle-paint fade on recycled lighting components. We were so tickled by their work that we invited them to participate in our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event this year (where they put their oldest sons to work as interns) and to share a bit more their story with us in the interview after the jump.
On her Tumblr, Suzanne Antonelli self-identifies as a printed textile designer. But in truth, the Norwich, UK–based designer’s graphics have taken on such a life of their own that Antonelli has begun to be more widely known for the patterns themselves. In her webshop, those patterns are applied to vegetable ink–printed recycled paper notebooks, or, more simply, to giclee A1 posters — the better for adorning the walls of your house, which you’re going to want to do in spades after perusing these images. Of her interest in print-making — and particularly of the repetitive geometries that have become her signature — Antonelli has said: “I first became interested in pattern when I was doing my foundation in Brighton. There was hardly any room in the studio and desks were on a first come first serve basis; I think that the lack of space made me focus more and I produced a lot of really small detailed work on graph paper using tiny dots to make up different blocks of pattern.”
We spotted the new London-based jewelry designers Studio Uribe on the shelves of one of our favorite boutiques, Hunting and Collecting in Brussels. Helmed by couple Sion and Tiffany Phillips, the brand recently launched its first collection for FW14, which pairs sleek 18K gold-plated brass with abstract striped-enamel and lapis lazuli accents. The pair say that their collaboration reflects their contrasting backgrounds — Sion being a Welsh branding veteran who’s worked with clients like Nike and BMW, and Tiffany being a Chilean-American accessories designer with Chanel, Kenzo, and Swarovski on her resume. After the jump are selections from their first lookbook, shot by Rosie Blake, as well as images from a special shoot Uribe did with Bella Howard, of the pieces placed alongside various plants.
The fact that Los Angeles designer Kate Miss has, since we shot her Koreatown workspace last fall, chopped off her hair, adopted a dog, and moved studios not once but twice — the second time abandoning her freelance graphic design life altogether for a full-time position at Karen Kimmel — may tell you just how busy we’ve been around these parts. But it could just as easily be a reflection of how much Miss craves change. She’s the only person we’ve ever heard utter the words: “I love moving.” And yet that peculiarly peripatetic quality is what defines Miss — it’s what brought her from Seattle to New York and finally to LA, and why she’s equal parts known as a blogger, a photographer, a jewelry maker, and a graphic designer.
Every summer, the Stockholm-based, Scottish-born designer David Taylor retreats to his family’s cottage in the Swedish countryside for a spell and spends his days foraging in the woods. It isn’t greens and mushrooms he’s after, though, but slag — the decidedly un-edible clumps of waste compounds left behind in the production of metal. Taylor’s cottage happens to be in a town called Hälleförsnäs, also home to an iron foundry that was built in the 1600s and shut down for good in 2006. “Slag can still be found just about everywhere around here,” Taylor says. “It’s a worthless by-product that was produced in huge quantities and mostly just dumped out of sight in the forest for centuries.” For a recent project that debuted during the Saatchi Gallery’s Collect fair in May, Taylor gathered up chunks of the stuff and upcycled them into a series of colorful candlesticks.