When we first discovered the work of New York textile designer Mansi Shah, we were impressed by the way she was able to make such playful prints and patterns look so ultra-sophisticated, from splatter-paint motifs to neon grids to squiggles. That quality is exactly what makes the items in her newly launched, eponymous accessories collection so wearable — they feel more fashiony than faddish, which is all the more impressive considering she graduated from CalArts with a degree in graphic design just six years ago. Having since done time designing for the likes of Warby Parker and Madewell, Shah recently set up shop on her own, offering both custom print services as well as the items in her brand new retail arm — scarves and iPhone cases at the moment, with caps, backpacks, and more to come, all of which channel her love of “hand-drawn typography and organic mark-making.” To celebrate the label’s launch, Shah is offering Sight Unseen readers the chance to win one of her Impasto-print iPhone cases, worth $42. Read on for instructions on how to enter.
Sometime in the past year, Brooklyn potter Helen Levi began making her popular Desert Tumblers, which evoke a kind of faded, windswept, Southwestern landscape by marbling white porcelain with sandy red clay. But the funny thing is, until this summer, New York–born Levi had never even been to the desert. “I’d been wanting to go to New Mexico since high school,” she says. “That landscape has always been kind of a dreamy thought, but my tumblers were based on my imagination of a place I’d never seen.” This summer, Levi decided to bite the bullet, taking a month off from work to road trip 7,000 miles — all the way to Albuquerque and back — making sure to stop along the way at places like the Pittsburgh factory where her clay is made and leaving enough time to simply wander off the road in search of this country’s vast natural beauty.
Erin O’Keefe is an artist and architect based in New York and New Brunswick, Canada. Having studied architecture at Columbia’s grad program, O’Keefe took her interest in spatial perception back to her art career, in which she creates sculptures and models and landscapes out of paper, plywood, and foil, which she then photographs. As she describes it: “I’m interested in the layer of distortion and misapprehension introduced by the camera as it translates three-dimensional form and space into a two-dimensional image. In architecture, there is a similar dissonance … The representation of the building and the building itself are two radically different things, as is the photograph and its subject. This inevitable and often fruitful misalignment is the central issue in my practice.” Check out our favorite examples of her work after the jump.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week was all about next-level workplace decor: colorful benches for happy waiting rooms, amazing ceramics for air-freshening plants, and the coolest Christmas-colored desk we’ve ever seen.
Like many creatives we’ve interviewed before, Forrest Lewinger began his Workaday Handmade ceramics label while in the employ of someone else. Having studied ceramics in college and promptly dropped it to focus on more video-based, site-specific work, the Virginia-born designer found himself a year or so ago back behind the potter’s wheel, working as a studio assistant to a ceramicist in New York City. “A lot of times, artists think of their day job as an obstructive force,” laughs Lewinger. “I started to think of it as something more generative.”
Sighted this week on Pin-Up magazine’s website, making-of images from the latest project of London talent Bethan Laura Wood, a series of summer window displays for Hermès UK called “Fruits of Labor.” Pin-Up’s editors call the project, which consists of classical still lifes full of oversized fruits and vegetables, “Henry Rousseau in 3-D.” Says Wood of the project: “I really wanted these large-scale sets to be hand-painted in order to highlight the layers handcrafted at every stage that make up final Hermès products.”
For the young, French graphic designer and Royal College of Arts grad Marine Duroselle, a relationship to pattern and shape is both instinctive and intuitive, owing in large part to the vast array of objects she was exposed to as a child. Growing up in Peru, her mother an anthropologist specializing in pre-Colombian textiles, Duroselle was continually surrounded by rich fabrics, threads and other types of South American crafts; a period of post-adolescence spent living in New York, on an exchange program at the School of Visual Arts, only further emphasized her interest in textiles and color.
When we’re asked by other journalists to talk about the evolution of American design, we pretty much always point to the same thing: the rise of independent designers and studios producing and selling their own work. Young American designers have increasingly become entrepreneurs in the past ten years, leveraging local manufacturing resources and online shopping platforms in order to bypass the need to wait around for big brands to do it for them. The latest such endeavor is Good Thing, a new company founded by designer Jamie Wolfond and based in New York that launches next week at NY NOW. Good Thing’s first collection consists of nine products by six different designers, from a sand-cast aluminum trivet to a coiled-plastic vase to a handmade clay mug. We spoke to Wolfond about the new venture and how he’s making it work.