There were two huge advantages to spring’s early arrival in Milan this year, which has blessed us with 70-degree weather and constant blue skies as we’ve been scouting the city’s annual furniture fair all week. First, it made it much easier and more enjoyable to hit up dozens of shows in a row each day, walking miles and burning off all those carbohydrates and sprawling multi-course dinners (we’re looking at you, Swedish Design Goes Milan). Second, it provided the optimal lighting conditions for taking photographs of all the incredible objects we saw along the way — more than 500 of them, at last count (including a cute vignette from the Discipline party, above). We’ll be sharing as many of them as we can with you over the next few days, both here and on our Facebook page, but in the meantime we wanted to take a break from all the pavement-pounding to give you a quick sampling of some of our observations.
We’ve been in Milan at the furniture fair all week, and though we’ll be posting more extensive coverage over the next few days, we wanted to begin by featuring a duo that’s fast becoming an old favorite of ours, despite hardly being out of school. We’ve featured the work of ÉCAL alumni Josephine Choquet and Virgile Thévoz twice before, but when we saw them with a booth at this year’s Salone Satellite — the Milan fair’s showcase of up-and-coming talents — we knew we had to share their new work. The brass and acetate Acapulco lights at the top of this post employ the same materials as their sunglasses to fantastic effect, while their new mirrors play with something that was a major trend at this year’s fair — iridescence. Inspired by a bubble’s prismatic surface, the mirrors are available in three colors that change according to your point of view. The London-bound duo are certainly ones to watch.
Now that Seattle Week on Sight Unseen is over, we’re turning our attention to another northwestern capital — Milan, Italy, home of the Salone del Mobile, where Jill and I are on serious scouting duty this week. Before we begin posting our annual eyewitness dispatches from the fair, though, we wanted to start our coverage with a small paean to our temporary digs: an article I contributed to the forthcoming Milan-themed spring/summer issue of PIN–UP magazine, which features the work of one of our favorite local design firms (Oeuffice) photographed inside the foundation of one of our favorite local architects (Piero Portoluppi). Click through to learn more about Oeuffice’s Milanes collection of tabletop items and the impetus behind these gorgeous images, plus how you can snag the PIN–UP No. 16 when it goes on sale next month.
When we first interviewed Jean Lee and Dylan Davis of Seattle’s Ladies & Gentlemen Studio back in 2012, they revealed that a sizable chunk of their design process happens on and around the shelves that line every room in their home studio and serve as a kind of 3-D inspiration board. The pair pick up any number of objects and offcuts that reside on them, then collaboratively ponder a simple question: “What we can do with this block of wood to make it an object?” Their work may have evolved considerably since that interview, but their methods have stayed pretty much the same — they still experiment in real-time using scraps and basic shapes, a practice they attempted to capture in these exclusive photos that mark the finale of Seattle Week on Sight Unseen. “It’s our standard approach when we’re working with new materials,” says Davis.
It goes without saying that not every artist who grows up in Toledo, Ohio, famed birthplace of the American studio glass movement, ends up dedicating their life’s work to that medium. But for John Hogan, that’s exactly what happened — he started experimenting with glass at a young age and, even after relocating to Seattle a few years back, hasn’t stopped since. His personal work, which spans functional objects and sculpture, focuses on the optical qualities of glass; its simple beauty has endeared him to local collaborators like designers Erich Ginder and Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, the latter of whom he’ll be exhibiting with at Sight Unseen OFFSITE this May.
These days, plenty of companies in the United States are touting their status as heritage brands, as is the current fashion, but markedly few who can claim the kind of pride of place that Filson can: Since the outdoor apparel label was founded in Seattle back in 1897, it’s never moved more than two miles away from where it began, in what’s now known as the city’s SoDo neighborhood — nor has it stopped manufacturing most of its wares there, either. Having long occupied a complex in the up-and-coming industrial area that included its factory, headquarters, and flagship store, last year the expansion of its business led it to annex a nearly 60,000 square-foot building just two blocks away from the original. “We’ve been in SoDo for 117 years, so it feels like home,” says Filson CEO Alan Kirk, a Scotland native who moved to the city in 2009. “It’s one of the few areas left in the city that still has manufacturing — in a way it’s the garment district of old Seattle.”
Katy Krantz likes to leave things to chance, at least when it comes to making ceramics. She has a method, but it involves working with a “wild and crazy collaborator” — a giant gas kiln that can fire clay at extremely high temperatures. “When you fire that high, the clay and glaze react in ways that are unpredictable. You get a lot of weird, random spotting, things that I would never be able to paint on.” That element of surprise and transformation runs through her colorful, abstract sculptural objects and jewelry, as well as her block prints and recent forays into fabric. Though she’ll establish “loose parameters” at the outset of a project, she says she’s “never been able to work with a real detailed plan in mind. I can work like that, but I tend to make really boring work that way. When I have too much control, it’s less interesting.”
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. Today, we temporarily interrupt Seattle Week to bring yo far-reaching news from places like Sweden (clocks and tables made from rejected furniture), Milan (a preview of novelties launching at the upcoming Salone del Mobile, where we’ll be reporting from next week), and the Internets (a rash of color-field abstraction on Instagram).