Still life photography is having a big week on Sight Unseen — yesterday we featured a pair of stylists who built their reputation on it and are now moving into interiors, and today we’re highlighting a photographer who approaches shooting interiors just as though they were still lifes. Belgian-born talent Frederik Vercruysse, in fact, describes his entire body of work as “still life photography in the broadest sense of the word,” according to his website, applying the approach not just to interiors but to portraits, fashion shows, and the occasional landscape as well (for clients like Wallpaper magazine, Sophie Buhai, and Muller Van Severen). But then, of course, there are his actual still lifes, which we’ve decided to focus on here. Shot mostly for magazines, they represent the purest form of his aim “to photograph the subject in its purest form.”
When describing their sensibility, Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto of the Milan-based Studiopepe invoke the versatility of classic white shirt: “You can wear it anytime, to go to the supermarket or to a soirée. The same is for design. Good design — whether a masterpiece or anonymous — goes with everything.” Their evocative aesthetic, though, is anything but simple. “Eclecticism and curiosity” are important starting points for them, and their output is rich with visual references, ranging from the harmony of classical forms to the glamour of Italian cinema in the ‘60s. But they don’t merely quote their source material, they transform it.
The past few years have proven that — every once in a while — a fashion label can make a successful, mostly non-embarrassing crossover into furniture and housewares. Margiela, Hermès, and Rick Owens all come to mind, but who better than a textile designer to make the leap? At last week’s Capsule show, Ellen Van Dusen of the Brooklyn-based clothing brand Dusen Dusen launched a brand new line of soft goods for the home that feature her signature geometric patterns — sheets, blankets, rugs, towels, pillows, and a pouf — and the extension feels totally natural, like it was meant to be. Today she’s giving Sight Unseen a first peek at the line’s lookbook photos, which were shot by SU contributor Brian Ferry and feature cameos by both SNL comedian Aidy Bryant and Van Dusen’s official canine mascot, Snips.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: long-awaited collections from two of our favorite designers, a new exhibition and book from the doyenne of Memphis, and a serious contender for the best watering can we’ve ever seen.
At last year’s Milan Furniture Fair, we had an extremely rare — but kind of major — fangirl moment. It wasn’t in response to some big-name Bouroullec-type designer with an installation around town or even Anna Della Russo, who you sometimes see flitting from party to party. It was a Swedish interior architect and photographer named Tekla Evelina Severin — better known on Instagram as Teklan — who we met on a lazy afternoon while exploring Venture Lambrate. Severin has hands down one of the most beautiful Instagrams around, so we were insanely excited to meet her, and even happier when this beauty of a story popped up on Urban Outfitters’ blog earlier this month. On the occasion of Valentine’s Day, Urban asked Severin to provide them with a series of pink photos that said something about the way she sees the world; of her addictive feed, she says, it’s “65 percent impromptu and 35 percent planned. Often it’s just things I notice as I pass them or when I’m traveling. Or sometimes it’s a place I’ve seen and not been able to get over.” Read on for a selection of our favorite images from the story, then click through for even more photos and an interview with the designer. (And if you don’t, follow her on Instagram already, will ya?!)
We discovered Cave Collective by way of their jewelry, which we spotted at the boutique No. 6 in New York, this past October. In late November, we shot founders Cat Lauigan and Alex Wolkowicz in their Greenpoint workspace. Then, by the end of January, we found out that they’d dismantled most of the studio and jewelry line, that Lauigan had relocated to California, and that both artists were focusing on their individual practices until they figured out what to do next. And yet by that point, we knew enough about Cave Collective to take the news in stride — ever since Lauigan and Wolkowicz began their collaboration in 2010, it’s been an endlessly shape-shifting and exploratory project, one that’s seen them living thousands of miles apart for nearly as long as they’ve lived in the same city.
If Barbara Kasten’s colorful, angular compositions look as though they could have been arranged just last week by some prop stylist in Los Angeles — well, consider that a testament to Kasten’s massive, if massively underappreciated, influence. The Chicago-based artist and photographer is currently the subject of a long overdue solo exhibition at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art; Stages spans five decades of work, from fiber sculptures to cyanotype prints to set design to a brand-new, site-specific installation that plays beautifully with the ICA’s interior architecture. For us, though, the exhibition’s highlight is the 1980s-era Constructs series, for which Kasten photographed theatrical assemblages incorporating elements such as metal, wire, mesh, mirrors — not to mention life-sized squiggles, cones, triangles, and columns made from plaster or wood. Constructs blurred the line between object and image and set the stage for nearly every photo shoot you see on blogs like this one today. Kasten was influenced by the Bauhaus, California Light and Space, and Postmodernism, and the program for her exhibition includes a conversation between Peter Shire and Martino Gamper. Considering the previous sentence includes five of our favorite things, you’ll know where to find us come March 25: on the next train to Philly.
Balance balls, dumbbells, pool noodles — is the recent incorporation of exercise equipment into the visual arts part and parcel with normcore or is it something more? The latest adherent to the trend is Baltimore-based artist Alex Ebstein, who works with a variety of materials — most notably yoga mats — but in Ebstein’s hands, those basic materials become less trendy and more textural. Her brightly colored canvases resemble something Matisse may have constructed had his cut-out phase occurred during the Memphis movement. Bold and graphic from afar, the works are delightfully tactile upon closer inspection. Her use of slightly irregular grids and geometric constructions is contrasted with the addition of ambiguous organic shapes cut from yoga mats that are then inlayed or applied to her compositions. If you are in the Baltimore area, you can see her MFA show at Towson University’s Holtzman Art Gallery until May 9th.