Ten years ago, Romy Northover was a student at Goldsmith College, an incredibly conceptual art school in London that she found to be grueling. “I’m a kinesthetic learner,” says the now Brooklyn-based ceramicist. “I figure things out by doing them, not just by thinking about them. I’m not an intellectual; it’s more experiential for me. But those were important years because they got me to where I am now.”
As we understand it, this is the dream, right? To turn your art-school thesis project into a multimillion dollar corporation and a brand that’s coveted the world over? That’s essentially what happened to Dutch designer Max Barenburg, who devised the origins of the Bugaboo stroller back in his days as a student at Design Academy Eindhoven in the early ’90s. The original design did not survive intact — Barenburg at first envisioned the now iconic stroller as an all-terrain vehicle that could turn into a two-wheeler and hook up to a mountain bike for a bit of baby off-roading — but its essential DNA was there: the telescoping handle meant to accommodate tall Dutch dads, the central joint that would allow the stroller to fold up using a single hand. Barenburg could never have foreseen Bugaboo’s massive popularity in part because he never could have guessed the collaborations the stroller would inspire. To date, the brand has worked with Pendleton, Missoni, Viktor & Rolf, the Andy Warhol Foundation (we particularly like the stroller covered in a giant Velvet Underground banana), and, as of next month, Diesel.
Anyone who believes that publishing is dead should try attending the New York Art Book Fair on a Friday afternoon — neither day jobs nor the gorgeous weather nor the fact that the big public opening was the night before made it any less of an unequivocal mob scene at the start of this past weekend, when we spent four hours squeezing through its hot, sweaty warrens in pursuit of interesting things. We don’t consider ourselves aficionados of the independent press scene, but there was still plenty for the armchair enthusiast to discover, which is part of what makes the fair so darn popular: In addition to scores of obscure art books and rare editions, which you could spend a lifetime or two attempting to browse, there are also great prints, installations, ephemera, tote bags, and even ceramics, like the paper-holders by Bjørn Mortensen of Apis Press that are pictured above. We’re sure we missed at least half of what was actually on offer, but we’ve catalogued the rest of our favorite finds after the jump.
Sam Cate-Gumpert, of the artist’s book publisher Peradam, had, like many of us, been following the photographic essay that is Mary Manning’s life through her blog Unchanging Window for several years before he approached her with the idea of publishing a collection of her images in a real-life book. Initially, Manning explains, she had a whole other idea of what the book would be, but then a succession of events — a spontaneously booked vacation to Greece with her girlfriend Monique and a gift from a friend of a very beautiful copy of Henry Miller’s First Impressions of Greece (accompanied by an elaborate list of tips and recommendations for the trip), led to a very different publication. Manning says that upon receiving the copy of Miller’s book she knew instantly that instead of what she had been planning, her book would be ‘Greece and Monique. Impressions’. The images, which were all captured on film, were curated into the gentle rhythm seen on these pages by Manning herself and show all the characteristic genius of her previous work.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: our exhortations that you visit the New York Art Book Fair, buy a brand new design magazine, embrace the aesthetic of paperclips, and see an eccentrically staged exhibition of iconic late-2oth century chairs.
It’s been a banner year for Norwegian design — from our perspective, anyway. Just after being thoroughly indoctrinated to its highlights, both old and new, during New York Design Week in May, we set off on a long-awaited pilgrimage to the country in June to experience its aesthetic charms for ourselves, and we were not disappointed. Yet if we think back, our Norwegian design awakening truly began at this year’s Salone Satellite exhibition in Milan; that’s where we discovered the work of the promising young Bergen-based duo Vera Kleppe and Åshild Kyte — aka Vera & Kyte — whose debut collection of colorful tables, lamps, room dividers, and daybeds was highly graphic, well-resolved, and of-the-moment without being too trendy. Inspired by Art Deco, functionalism, French botanical gardens, and Jaques Tati’s Mon Oncle, the series made us eager to see more from the duo, a wish that was granted this week when they sent us a first look at their latest project, just unveiled at Tent London: a simple wooden armchair intended to evoke summer. Read more about the work, along with what inspires Kleppe and Kyte in general, after the jump.
As summer turns to fall, so we turn the design diary to September and one of our favorite events: London’s annual Design Festival. Now in its 12th year, LDF has evolved to include not only the city’s flourishing design community, but a national and increasingly international mix, competing against the behemoth that is Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April. But in addition to furniture debuts and high-profile launches, LDF also acts as an occasion for those lesser design-mad folks to enjoy events and workshops around the city, as well as the oh-so-tempting retail destinations offering the latest coordinating stationery necessities (yes, HAY, we’re looking at you). With the launch of our pop-up keeping us New York–bound, we sent our London correspondent Rae Blunstone out onto the circuit, LDF guide in hand and sturdy sneakers at the ready, to pick up her favorites from the week’s events.
Jennie Jieun Lee makes plenty of glossy, pretty pieces that would look lovely alongside other objects in your home, but there’s a real depth of feeling that distinguishes her work. The large ceramic masks she’s been showing in galleries have a visceral, unsettling quality and a sly humor. But even her more practical goods — plates, bowls, cups, and creamers — convey moodiness and urgency, something you don’t often find yourself saying about tableware. “I think it was because of all those years I was stuck,” she says. “It was dying to come out.”