Sarah Trigg spent more than two years photographing the ateliers of 100 artists around the country for her new book Studio Life: Rituals, Collections, Tools, and Observations on the Artistic Process — including boldfaced names like Carol Bove, Rob Pruitt, Theaster Gates, Tauba Auerbach, and Nick Cave. And yet you won’t see any of their actual artwork in its pages (we’ve added our own to the David Altmejd excerpt below), nor will you see any overall depictions of their spaces. That’s because Trigg, an artist herself, took inspiration from the most important elements of her own Brooklyn studio and decided to exclusively zoom in on any residue, mascots, collected objects, rituals, makeshift tools, and architectural details she found during her visits. “I placed a lens on daily studio life without expecting artists to defend or explain their work,” she writes of her process. “It was crucial, therefore, not to overshadow the results with portraits, artwork, or depictions of the overall grandeur of the studios — all of which have established venues for exposure elsewhere.”
Formafantasma, Ladies & Gentlemen, Rich Brilliant Willing: The list of design partnerships that began in art school is pretty endless. But rare is the pair who knew and liked each other enough to not only register at the same university at the same time but also to enroll in all of the same classes, “to keep each other on our toes.” That’s Calen Knauf and Conrad Brown of the emerging Vancouver-based design studio Knauf & Brown talking; the two met through skateboarding more than a decade ago. Brown was a photographer and Knauf a graphic designer, and once they graduated from their industrial design program at Emily Carr, the natural thing to do was to go into business together. “It’s a good partnership,” they say, “because we both have different strengths, but fairly similar aesthetics.” What exactly defines that aesthetic is still a bit up in the air, considering that the two graduated only last year. But what’s emerged so far has shown an emphasis on simple and honest natural materials, like ash and marble, as well as a healthy sense of humor that occasionally surfaces in the form of performance art. For “despite how much of our lives we dedicate to design and our studio, we still place a high priority on having as much fun as possible,” they say. “We both still skateboard, and regularly get up to no good.” Read on for a deeper look into their brand-new practice.
Apart from being a member of one of our favorite new design collectives — the Mexico City–based group Panorámica, whom we discovered at ICFF this past May — Moisés Hernández also runs a housewares brand called Diario that searches out and redesigns everyday Mexican objects. He started the project last year as part of his masters project at ECAL in Switzerland, and after returning to his hometown, continued it with this new line of colorful tabletop textiles manufactured by a family-run workshop in Oaxaca, all documented after the jump.
If homemade gifts are supposedly the best kind, we happen to think that beautiful objects hand-crafted in small batches by artists and designers are easily the next best thing, especially if you have less than full confidence in your crafting skills (or lack thereof). Of course, you could also simply go out and buy your girlfriend that Vitamix she’s been obsessing over, but where’s the fun in that if she could just as easily go out and buy it herself? A gift from the Sight Unseen Shop strikes the perfect balance, proving you’re thoughtful and resourceful, and that you understand what makes the person you’re giving it to so unique. Not that we wouldn’t also mind a Vitamix for the holidays — ahem — but you know what we’re getting at here! Check out the latest additions to our shop after the jump, which make for great gifts in any price range.
For all of the handwringing about art being inaccessible, there’s no city planning theory that has gained more traction in this century than the idea of creative people driving neighborhood revitalization. Which means that the descriptively titled “Arts ReSTORE: LA” project isn’t just loftily ambitious. The month-long residency program, which began last week, might actually work at creating a less sterile West Los Angeles, not least because it is supported by the powerhouse Hammer Museum, whose three-story compound anchors one end of the street. On a stretch of Westwood Ave., better known for chain sandwich shops and fluorescent interiors, the Hammer offered a half-dozen empty storefronts to local artists and makers, with the idea that even a temporary infusion would upend the retail mood of the area. If the packed opening night was any indication, this time the theory holds. Here’s what we saw.
If you’re familiar with the work of Jake Longstreth (which we weren’t until it was brought to our attention by our newest contributor, Laure Joliet!) you probably know him from a series of paintings that made the blog rounds a few years back. Hyper-realistic depictions of empty suburban landscapes and architecture — think tennis courts, drive-thru pharmacies, and red-roofed Pizza Huts — the paintings were unsettling, both in their flat anonymity and in their technique, which rendered them eerily photographic. But a few years ago, Longstreth’s focus shifted.
It wasn’t too long ago that bringing up Detroit made people feel sad. For decades it was America’s most downtrodden city; the first and only time I visited, 15 years ago, at age 19, I gasped dramatically upon arrival that it looked like its downtown had literally been bombed out and abandoned. But two or three years ago, Detroit got a brand new narrative, unfortunately by way of an annoyingly over-baked media frenzy that branded it the next hipster haven, complete with coffee shops, urban farms, and its first Whole Foods. The arrival of Shinola — which opened a watch factory and bicycle workshop there last year — quickly became a part of that narrative, even moreso when it opened its second retail location in New York a few months ago and began introducing the East Coast to its $2,000 artisanal bicycles and handmade leather goods. And yet the company is playing an important part in what’s really going on in Detroit, beyond all the coffee shops and organic foods, which is that it’s in the process of replacing parts of its failed industrial economy with a creative one, and that its residents and legislators are counting on that renewal to get the city back on its feet.