Last year, after being asked for the umpteenth time to share our take on who the key players are in the American design scene, we decided to launch the first annual American Design Hot List — an unapologetically subjective editorial award for the 25 names to know now in American design. We intended for the list to act as our guide to those emerging and mid-career talents influencing the design landscape in any given year, whether through standout launches, must-see exhibitions, or just our innate sense that they’d be ones to watch. But when we thought about the fact that no one else was doing anything remotely similar, we realized that the American Design Hot List could play a wonderful ongoing role in spotlighting the hard work and superior skill of a group of creatives who we believe deserves recognition. With that in mind, we decided to make this year’s Hot List much bigger than a single feature, and for that we needed a partner. We couldn’t think of one more perfect than Design Within Reach, a company that not only honors the seminal names in America’s design history, but has also spent the past several years investing in those who will shape its future.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: Maybe it’s just the gloomy New York weather, but today we’re wishing we could be anywhere but here: a Los Angeles gallery show, a Copenhagen vintage pop-ups, or a 1950s Milanese apartment belonging to none other than Ettore Sottsass.
Still-life photography has been a staple form of expression for photographers since the invention of the camera. And with the rise in popularity of sites like Tumblr and Pinterest, there’s been a noticeable influx of images on the Internet that follow certain preconceived notions of what a contemporary still life ought to consist of: a clean image with a pale colored backdrop, some kind of sliced fruit, maybe some bubble wrap, etc. Enter Thomas Albdorf, the Austrian artist who crossed over into the world of photography after a career in graphic design and art direction. Albdorf shoots with a 35mm camera that results in a grittiness that is refreshing in this digital age, and his background as a designer is clearly evident in his calculated and well-balanced photographs. His still lifes — constructed from mundane objects or littered building materials — are full of texture, pattern, and intrigue.
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.