The work that Latvian-born, Amsterdam-based designer Germans Ermics does is hardly rocket science — he simply adds gradients of color to planes of glass and mirror, then assembles them into furniture pieces or more sculptural compositions. And yet the results, when we first saw them at the Milan Furniture Fair this past April, totally floored us.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Dutch artist Thomas Raat — whose colorful and intricate compositions recall the great European modernist graphic design tradition — isn't particularly concerned with the emotional aspects of art but instead focuses purely on the visual techniques and functionality of the medium. Referencing a deep and thorough understanding of modernist philosophy and analytical thinking, Raat creates large-scale paintings and sculptures that employ the use of symmetry, repetition, and other basic principles of design to create pleasing and visually stimulating compositions.
Sometimes you can take one look at a designer's body of work and deduce that they have a background in architecture before ever meeting or talking with them. Amsterdam-based Michael Schoner — who worked his way through multiple architecture firms across Europe before settling in Amsterdam and founding his own design studio in 2010 — definitely falls into this category. His approach to design is uniquely architectural, building from a visual vocabulary of simple shapes and forms that are often bisected, stacked, or spliced.
Amsterdam-based 23-year-old Sandy Van Helden describes her illustration style as "clean, detailed, and aesthetic with a hint of mystery" — we couldn't have said it better ourselves. We rarely feature illustration on Sight Unseen, just because there's so little of it that suits our personal taste, but we were intrigued by Van Helden's style the first time we saw her black-and-white portraits of women with bold, graphic eyebrows and hollow-eyed men silhouetted against swirling marbled backgrounds. There's certainly something obviously of-the-moment about the Willem de Kooning Academy graduate's work, but there's something intriguing about it, too. Check out more of it below, including a recent installation Van Helden designed for one of Amsterdam's coolest concept stores.
Barcelona's Marc Monzó has been designing clever, minimalist jewelry since the '90s, but we only found out about his work this month, thanks to a current solo show at Amsterdam's Galerie Rob Koudijs. On display until February 22, the exhibit features his new series of small brooches (pictured above) made from copper sheeting that's been cut up and reassembled like masonry, using sterling silver "mortar." We liked them so much we decided to delve back into Monzó's portfolio to share more of his pieces with you, after the jump.
Eva Roovers's still lives contain orderly and fanciful arrangements of mundane objects mixed with organic shapes. Skillfully photographed colored light bounces delicately across her sets. Roovers explains: "Making use of daily objects, I connect what doesn’t belong together. With a sense of geometrical order, the old objects gain a new perspective and are shown like little rock-stars or whimsical monuments." Roovers lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Sometimes we furiously scour the internet or go gallery-hopping for inspiration. But sometimes, new good things just fall into our laps (something for which we’re particularly grateful on these tough days back after a holiday!) Case in point: These amazing new necklaces and brooches by recent Rietveld Academy grad Nhat-Vu Dang, which arrived in our inbox yesterday. It’s no secret we love ourselves a large, mixed-media necklace, and these fit the bill nicely, made from glass, wood, paint, high-density foam, and epoxy (the brooches are foam and steel). The new pieces, on view at the Amsterdam jewelry gallery Rob Koudijs through the end of February, are an extension of Dang’s graduation project: sculptural pieces of jewelry made from gray cardboard, which revealed hidden flashes of color when worn. The new pieces, says curator Ward Schrijver, are even more conceptual but no less covetable.
In some ways, it seems fate that Dutch designer Lex Pott would end up working in a studio housed in an old shipyard in the northern precincts of Amsterdam. As a child growing up in Hilversum, 30 miles outside the city, Pott was obsessed with boats, constantly crafting miniature ones from the natural debris he’d find in the forest around his house, and using old plastic bags as sails. And in the short time since he set up his studio, after graduating from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2009, he’s built up a small body of work centered around the very phenomenon that’s known to wreak havoc on seafaring vessels: oxidation. Pott has shot to fame in recent months on the basis of Transience, a series of silvered geometric mirrors designed in collaboration with fellow Eindhoven grad David Derksen. But the project that started it all, True Colours, was less a product than an investigation into the nature of color: Pott took standard sheets of industrial metals — copper, brass, steel, and aluminum — and played with oxidizing them by various methods, in the process creating a highly individualized palette he could, in theory, apply to any metal object.
First-time travelers to Amsterdam — perceptive ones, anyway — need only to spend a day navigating its cobbled streets to notice what makes the experience so singular. The buildings are old and narrow, and many seem perilously cockeyed. With their decorative facades and fanciful gables, they resemble oversized gingerbread houses. And when you walk by them, you witness a sight even more peculiar than all of the above: an unobstructed view straight into the living rooms and kitchens of the people who live inside, who refrain from hanging curtains even at ground level. As a locally based friend explained to me on a recent visit, the Dutch may value privacy just as much as the rest of us, but they also take a certain pride in proving they have nothing to hide. This was the thought running through my mind the day that Renny Ramakers, co-founder and director of the influential Dutch design laboratory Droog, let me wander around inside her home unsupervised, snapping hundreds of voyeuristic photos of her possessions while she worked calmly away at her dining table.
Two years ago, in the Nine Streets shopping area of Amsterdam, two lifelong friends, René Strolenberg and Menno van Meurs, opened a store called Tenue de Nîmes. Like a lot of very hip retailers these days, Tenue de Nîmes is devoted in large part to denim — Nîmes, France being the fabric’s birthplace — and also like a lot of very hip retailers these days, it publishes a semi-annual magazine, this one called Journal de Nîmes. The shop has become widely loved for its expansive outlook and inventory (great denim doesn’t have to be Japanese!, it seems to say), and the magazine, while nominally a vehicle to promote brands sold by the shop, has also become, over six issues, something much more. This is due in part to its excellent art direction and photography, which come courtesy of Another Something blogger Joachim Baan, but also because of its simple, very Sight Unseen–like aims: to reveal the personalities and the stories behind how things are made.
When Dutch artist Eylem Aladogan took her first trip out West in 2006 — three months of driving alone through the Nevada, Utah, and Arizona desert — there was plenty to be afraid of: the wide-openness of the landscape, the sensation of smallness and isolation, the possibility that the only hotel for miles around would be fully booked for the night. “These feelings of restriction at the same time you’re constantly going, driving forward, really inspired me,” says the 34-year-old, who’s based in Amsterdam. “There’s so much energy when you feel that every day.” Enough, it would turn out, to fuel her art for the next four years, as she worked out a way to visually harness those opposing forces of anxiety and empowerment.