Renato D’Agostin was born and raised in Venice, Italy, “where for most people photography in those days meant weddings and passport pictures,” he says. Yet the city did manage to nurture his future career, if only inadvertently so: After falling in love with a photograph of an elephant that his mother won in a town prize drawing, he commandeered his father’s Nikon, signed up for a local photography class, and spent his teenage years documenting scenes from everyday Venetian life, a process he’s hewed towards ever since. Still, he considers his first foray away from home in 2002, on a road trip through the capitals of Western Europe, to be his most formative experience. “I took that trip to see if interpreting reality was what I really wanted to do,” D’Agostin recalls. “From that moment on, I never had any doubt. I felt like traveling was the place where I wanted to live, and the camera was my extension.”
It’s hard to say, looking at the image above —with its freestanding kiln-like fireplace, its red-palette Persian rug, and its chic indoor garden — whether the interior featured is genuinely vintage or simply one of the excellent contemporary facsimiles that populate board after Pinterest board these days. But in some ways, that’s precisely the point. The interior above, featured this week on Herman Miller’s excellent WHY blog, was designed in the 1950s by George Nelson, and like many of Nelson’s designs, it is as usable and contemporary today as it was half a century ago. Sure there are dead giveaways of the time period in other photographs — the weird stone flooring that looks almost like linoleum, the predominantly mustard-colored rug — but the essential lines of the wood and steel-frame structure make the place seem somewhat timeless. It helps that the house was recently meticulously restored by its current owner; it also doesn’t hurt that these images were taken by Sight Unseen contributor Paul Barbera, who has a knack for making any old thing look new and lovely. In any case, it’s a beautiful story, filled with many more photos and much more text than we’ve excerpted here. Read on, and the click through at the end for the full story.
The practice of two artists collaborating by mail is nothing new; after all, that’s how Peter Shire communicated ideas to his Memphis colleagues back in Milan and how Alex Segreti and Kelly Rakowski of New Friends got their start (with the former in Philly and the latter in New York.) But what happens when you elevate that practice to something more like a parlor game? We here at Sight Unseen had been wondering that ourselves (and an exhibition on that very theme is in the works, fingers crossed!) which is why we were especially tickled when we found out that Debbie Carlos and Doug Johnston — two of our favorites — had recently happened upon the exact same idea. The Michigan-based photographer and the Brooklyn-based designer spent the summer creating a series of objects under the name “Material Material,” for which they shipped each other the raw materials from which they could fashion several objects. The results were recently shown at the San Francisco shop Little Paper Planes. We asked Johnston and Carlos to take us through the project from start to finish.
There were several reasons Alisa Grifo wanted to take her Kiosk co-founder Marco Romeny to Greece for their newest themed collection of everyday objects, which launches today. But the most pressing was the fact that Greece’s ongoing economic woes have shuttered scores of small businesses, and continue to do so the longer they persist. “It felt like half of Athens was closed,” says Grifo, who traveled there with Romeny in early October. “We would find something and try to contact the manufacturer and their phone would be disconnected. We felt an urgency to go now before more and more disappeared.” The irony is that Greece is also the last collection for the couple before they’re forced to pull their own disappearing act of sorts, thanks to economics of an entirely different kind.
Instead of making things as a way to survive obsolescence, the physical remainders that will outlast us all, Adi Goodrich’s work lives for only a few days before being broken back down into pieces. “I’m not really into all that ego of trying make stuff that stays forever,” the Los Angeles-based designer admits. “I’m much more interested in the cycle of creativity, in making things happen, and surrounding myself with everyone who wants to come with.” Which means that Goodrich, who was just honored with an Art Directors Club “Young Guns” award, might have willed herself into a perfect job: set design.
We can think of few more perfect gifts than Sight Unseen’s exclusive hand-painted leather pouches from Baggu. Not only are they adorable in their own right — the larger size adding a pop of color to a little black dress when worn as a clutch to holiday parties, the small serving handily as a wallet or lipstick holder — but they can also seriously up your game in the gift-wrap department. Why present your loved one with an iPad mini or a piece of jewelry covered in crappy drugstore paper when your wrapping could be a gift in its own right? That’s why we’ve teamed up with Baggu to give you the chance to win two pouches of your own from the Sight Unseen Shop (your choice of one large and one small), plus a $50 gift card redeemable at Baggu.com. Enter after the jump!