Tag Archives: architecture

  1. 06.24.14
    What We Saw
    In Norway

    If anyone needed proof this year that Scandinavia had quietly usurped London’s status as the world’s hottest contemporary design scene, it could be found at the Salone del Mobile in April, where the presentation that Danish brand Hay put on, complete with a pop-up shop and an utter madhouse of a cocktail party, was pretty much the talk of the town. It’s entirely thanks to the rise, in the past few years, of not just Hay but brands like Menu, Ferm Living, One Nordic, Muuto, Gubi, and Design House Stockholm, all of whom are working with emerging talents across the region. As we’ve watched the Nordic scene grow, we’ve managed to pay visits to Sweden (three times), Denmark (twice), and Finland (once, in the dead of winter, natch) — even to Iceland, for its DesignMarch festival three years ago. That left Norway as our personal holy grail, made doubly intimidating because of its famed reputation for being outrageously expensive. Two weeks ago, as you may have noticed on Instagram, we finally took the plunge.

  2. 05.16.14
    Studio Visit
    Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza, Art and Design Duo

    This week, we’re featuring a series of designers, brands, and exhibitors participating in Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our brand new design fair taking place in New York City this weekend, May 16-20. Click here for more information.

    Partners in both life and work, Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza share a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where they run an art practice together as well as a design company called Chiaozza. Yet the first two things they ever collaborated on belonged to neither of those disciplines: One was a stew they made for dinner soon after they began dating — which took so long to cook that joking about it inspired their eventual website name, eternitystew.com — and the other was the pancakes they made the next morning. “We were fascinated by their topography, so we took some printmaking ink, inked up a pancake, and started making monoprints with them,” Frezza recalls. “That was when it began, this idea of turning our everyday life and domestic play into some kind of product or work.” Two and a half years later, it’s still the motivation underlying many of their colorful projects, which they characterize as existing at the “intersection of imagination and the natural world.”

  3. 02.14.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    François Halard at Demisch Danant

    When we think of the legendary Chelsea gallery Demisch Danant, we picture insanely luxurious fur-covered daybeds by Maria Pergay, or foofy round Pumpkin chairs by Pierre Paulin. We think of furniture — not photography. And yet somehow the exhibition on view there now through March 1 makes a perfect kind of sense. The French-born, New York–based photographer François Halard is showing a series of portraits he’s made over the last 20 years of architecture and interiors created by some of the last century’s most significant artists and designers — the Palm Springs house by Albert Frey (top image), the Italian studio of Cy Twombly, the Villa-Noialles by Robert Mallet-Stevens, and, one of our favorites, the Captiva Island home of Robert Rauschenberg.

  4. 12.21.13
    Saturday Selects
    Week of December 16, 2013

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, and events from the past seven or so days. This week: the best patterns of 2013, a new stationery set by one of our favorite fashion designers (pictured above), Design Prom, and more.

  5. 11.08.13
    Studio Visit
    Jake Longstreth, artist

    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.

  6. 10.04.13
    Excerpt: Book
    PIN-UP Interviews

    It’s quite nice to write, as we do here at Sight Unseen, for ourselves, but it’s equally — if not sometimes more — fun to write for PIN-UP. When you’re a writer assigned to conduct a Q+A in the “magazine for architectural entertainment,” as I was earlier this year, you take one look at past examples and breathe a huge sigh of relief. Because PIN-UP has always encouraged both writer and subject to be absolutely themselves, and its founder and editor-in-chief Felix Burrichter has always allowed transcripts into the magazine complete with exclamation points, interjected giggles, and tangents about things like Beyonce’s hair, Philippe Malouin’s “lustrous beard” or what kind of stationery is Shigeru Ban’s favorite — in other words, all of the fun, non-jargony things that often make an interview entertaining to conduct but that usually get edited out. This week, PIN-UP Interviews — a book filled with seven years’ worth of those conversations — was published by PowerHouse Books.

  7. 06.17.13
    What We Saw
    At DMY 2013

    One half of Sight Unseen may currently be stationed in Berlin, but when it came to covering DMY last week — the 10-year-old fair for young designers that takes place here annually at the decommissioned Tempelhof airport — we passed the torch to our longtime friend and sometime SU contributor, Thorsten van Elten of the online shop Theo, while we jetted off to Basel. In Berlin from London for a few days on a whim, partly to check out the fair’s offerings and partly as a tax-deductible excuse to revisit one of his favorite cities, van Elten documented for us his personal DMY selections, but also key moments from his romp through town — all couched in his crazy sense of humor. Scroll through his DMY travel diary below, then head over to Theo to check out what he does for a living.

  8. 03.29.13
    Studio Visit
    Nick Van Woert, Artist

    Visit Nick van Woert’s massive studio in Greenpoint, and in all likelihood you’ll find a cluster of white people standing in a corner, naked and clutching each others’ butts — these artificial neo-classical statues have been a recurring theme in the Nevada-born artist’s work since shortly after he began his career in earnest in 2006. Many of them get tipped over and enveloped in a cascade of colored resin that hardens in mid-drip; in one series, he hollowed out their midsections and let the wind give them garbage guts. “It was like a little trap, and the wind would blow weird shit in there that accumulated outside my studio,” van Woert says. “Anything from Doritos bags to Monster Energy drink cans. The DNA of the world outside.” It was his most literal manifestation of the mantra that drives most of his practice: You are what you eat.

  9. 03.14.13
    Q+A
    Kevin Appel, artist

    In the long list of ways that New York differs from Los Angeles, we’ve always been particularly fascinated by one: New York can be a very physically demanding place to live, but it is not a difficult city to understand on a psychological level. In Los Angeles, the living is easier, but there seems to be — especially among artists — a constant grappling to define and understand LA as a place. L.A. artist Kevin Appel explains it this way: “Los Angeles has always had a bit of an identity crisis partially due to the external view of LA as having this superficial mentality tied to the film industry. It doesn’t have a long lineage of a canonical or intellectual history, as opposed to New York.” He should know: Appel is a native Angeleno who has called the city home for almost his entire life — save for a brief stint at Parsons for his BFA — and he’s been steeped in the city’s history and vocabulary since birth. His father was an architect and his mother an interior designer, so it makes sense that the city’s structures and surroundings would eventually become his subject matter.

  10. 03.12.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    5 Platonic Objects by Christian Wassmann at R 20th Century

    Swiss architect Christian Wassmann is quite the chameleon: Not only does he seem to float effortlessly between every important New York fashion party, design talk, and art opening, equally at home in every crowd, his work also spans myriad scenes and disciplines — from the interior of a scrappy East Village radio station, to a massive installation with fashion darlings threeASFOUR at the Arnhem Mode Biennale, to his latest project, a suite of transformable furniture for the high-end Tribeca design gallery R20th Century. While we’re not sure how to explain his social gifts, his professional versatility comes down to something we here at Sight Unseen can certainly appreciate: Wassmann’s longtime appreciation for geometric forms permeates everything he does, and those shapes by their very nature happen to work just as well on a small scale as they do on a larger one. In honor of his first small-scale effort, we did a little interview with him, which we’ve posted after the jump.

  11. 01.16.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Le Corbusier’s Secret Laboratory

    They had us at the title: “Le Corbusier’s Secret Laboratory,” aka the painting studio where the architect took a pause from buildings and furniture to create expressive artworks like the sculpture above, many of which will be on view at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet starting this Saturday. Though his work has been under the microscope for so long now, obviously, that it would be silly to consider any part of his oeuvre truly a secret, the museum claims to have some rarely shown pieces up its sleeve, and a thesis that puts his career in something of a new perspective: “A central theme of this exhibition is Le Corbusier’s oscillation between two seemingly disparate pursuits — his celebration of mechanical objects and his search for poetic forms,” its curators write.

  12. 01.07.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Phantom: Mies as Rendered Society by Andrés Jaque

    Considering Mies van der Rohe designed the 1929 Barcelona Pavilion to emphasize transparency and freedom of movement, you’ve got to hand it to the Spanish architect Andrés Jaque for his genius new exhibition “Phantom: Mies as Rendered Society,” which plumbs the one part of the building that’s always been both hidden and completely off limits to the public: its basement. When we spotted these images of the show on Dezeen last week, complete with broken window panes in the reflecting pool and an industrial vacuum on the patio, we kind of lost it — talk about sights unseen! Jaque’s installation, the latest in a series of Barcelona Pavilion interventions by designers like SANAA and Ai Weiwei, takes what’s basically an overlooked yet significant refuse pile and transforms it into something unmistakably gorgeous.

  13. 10.04.12
    An Afternoon With
    Sight Unseen and HTC, New York Design Tour

    As you may have noticed, Sight Unseen isn’t just a web magazine: Considering all the time we’ve spent getting up close and personal with designers, we’ve become intimately involved in the design scene over the years — particularly on our home turf. Three years ago, we created the Noho Design District, an offsite event during New York Design Week, as a way to help promote the work of some of our local talents. And we’re frequently asked to bring the Sight Unseen experience to life for other brands and institutions as well, like with the pop-up shop we curated for Creatures of Comfort, the book launch we hosted with Rizzoli, and the panels we’ve led for the likes of DWR and the Museum of Arts & Design. Last month, we were approached by the London tour agency Urban Gentry with a new kind of proposal: to craft an insider’s journey through the New York design world for a group of international journalists, in town for the launch of HTC’s new 8X and 8S phones. After a bit of brainstorming and a flurry of phone calls, we managed to line up a two-day itinerary that would make any design lover swoon. Read on to follow our trek from the now-private Johnson Trading Gallery showroom in Queens to the Noho headquarters of Roman & Williams, and beyond.

  14. 09.07.12
    Up and Coming
    The Fundamental Group, Architects and Furniture Designers

    The Fundamental Group’s designs may be inspired by geometric principles, but the burgeoning Berlin studio owes its existence, at least in an abstract sense, to another realm entirely: physics, ie, the field in which opposites attract. As architecture students at Berlin’s University of the Arts back in 2003, Gunnar Rönsch and Stephen Molloy worked as assistants to rival department chairs, which in the world of academia, meant that they were automatically rivals, too. “If you sign up with one, you hate the other,” Rönsch explains. “Mine was building construction and detail design, while Stephen’s was based on a programmatic approach to structure — my chair basically had to solve all the problems created by his.” In time, however, the pair realized the inevitable — that by joining forces, they’d be stronger. First they became roommates, noticing how smoothly their collaboration on the apartment went, and then they began working together professionally, on projects like a friend’s house remodel. Their only other major conflict came when it was time, in 2010, to choose a name for their new company: Rönsch & Molloy, or Molloy & Rönsch? “A mathematician friend of ours was sitting in our kitchen talking about the fundamental group — a term from algebraic topology that describes very complicated 3-D surfaces,” says Molloy. “It was the perfect compromise.”

  15. 03.16.12
    Where They've Been
    Adam Štěch of Okolo’s Italian Architecture Tour

    When Adam Štěch goes on location for Okolo, the Prague-based design blog and magazine he founded with his brother Jakub and graphic designer Matěj Činčera three years ago, he likes to picture himself as a National Geographic reporter. Okolo’s recent Vienna Only issue, for example, became a kind of urban hunting expedition through the wilds of the Austrian capital, while legitimate business trips — like attending the Milan Furniture Fair as an editor for the Prague interiors magazine Dolce Vita — are rife with opportunities for fieldwork. After “cruising around crowded Zona Tortona in the center of design hell,” as the 25-year-old puts it, he’ll often spend a day or two searching out amazing examples of indigenous architecture to document. One such recent excursion to Lake Como entailed a curious encounter with the locals: “We were looking for an Ico Parisi house, for which I knew the district but not the exact address, and there was a single old man walking nearby,” recalls Štěch. “I approached him on a whim, explaining who Parisi was and asking if he knew the house. He picked us up with his car and dropped us off directly in front of it. I love those kinds of stories.” We love them too, which is why we asked Štěch to put together this slideshow sharing some of his favorite moments from his travels in the past few years.

  16. 01.27.12
    Sighted
    Furniture Inspired By Architecture

    Does it seem strange to think of furniture, which has such an intimate relationship with the human body, as architecture in miniature? Not, at least, if you count the number of legendary architects who employed their craft in the making of chairs and tables — Eames, van der Rohe, Gray, Corbu, Saarinen, Sottsass — plus all the contemporary ones, like David Adjaye, who aspire to work fluidly across all scales. Way before there was design-art, there was no more permeable disciplinary boundary than the one between buildings and the objects that occupied them. Which, of course, has made the overlap a longtime topic of interest among Sight Unseen’s editors. But what’s really piqued our curiosity lately is how the relationship works in the other direction, when designers trained to make furniture and objects try to harness larger architectural ideas and shrink them down to a more familiar level — one on which they can be lived with, rather than in. Sometimes you end up with baby skyscrapers or re-appropriated I-beams, other times it’s a single detail used to evoke a disproportionate sense of the monumental. We decided to put together a small roundup of recent furniture by designers who take inspiration from various aspects of a profession that Philip Johnson once called “the art of wasting space.”

  17. 12.21.11
    Sighted
    Okolo Visits Tobias Rehberger’s Studio

    For the team behind the Czech curatorial studio and blog Okolo — Adam Štěch, Jakub Štěch, and Matěj Činčera — their work is informed as much by the fact that they’re based in Prague, with a front-seat view of all things fascinating in Eastern European design, as it is by the fact that they love to travel. Adam Štěch has toured the region documenting amazing modernist homes, one of which he covered for Wallpaper this fall and more of which you’ll see on Sight Unseen in 2012, and the trio recently produced a print magazine devoted entirely to the city of Vienna. They also traveled to Frankfurt in November, visiting a succession of designers’ studios and photographing them for the Okolo website, slotting them in between posts about new work by Tomáš Král and the deconstruction of a Phillips auction catalog. One of our favorites was the studio of artist Tobias Rehberger, known for his striking graphical sensibility and his affinity for design and architecture, recently witnessed in the award-winning series of spaces he created in partnership with Artek; we’ve reposted it here with additional images and text that Adam prepared exclusively for Sight Unseen. Meanwhile, look out for a more extensive collaboration we’re preparing with Okolo for later this winter.

  18. 09.02.11
    Studio Visit
    Uglycute, Furniture and Interior Designers

    For Uglycute, it all began with a Bruno Matthson knockoff. It was 1999 and Swedish design was having a moment, but not, it seemed to the group’s four fledgling members, for the kinds of edgy experimental crafts and artistic hybrids being made by the emerging scene at the time — Wallpaper magazine and its ilk were still peering into the long shadows of Sweden’s old modernist icons. And so architecture grad Fredrik Stenberg and artists Jonas Nobel, Andreas Nobel, and Markus Degerman vented their frustration in the only way they knew how: by mounting a show around a sarcastic simulacrum of Matthson’s Eva chair made from a clunky particle-board box and cheap nylon straps. Complemented by a set of primitive clay pinch pots and a crude plywood table, the installation served as a launch pad for the group, and its subject matter — elevating cheap materials in order to question traditional norms of beauty and value — lent their firm its distinctive name. “It was meant as a new take on formalistic values,” says Nobel, who with the other three partners has since built a thriving practice known for its work with museums and clients like Cheap Monday.

  19. 08.29.11
    8 Things
    Autoban, furniture and interior designers

    The Beyoğlu district is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Istanbul, but for centuries, it’s been the Turkish cultural capital’s most modern quarter as well. Beyoğlu got telephone lines, electricity, and a funicular early on; new technologies, fashion, and the arts have always flourished there. So it’s fitting that the creative firm helping to spearhead the growth of modern design in Turkey has all but grown up on Beyoğlu’s cobbled streets. Headed by Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Çağlar — an architect and interior designer who met as students in the late 1990s — Autoban is housed in a half-baroque, mid-19th-century Italianate building, but inside, the studio is almost seamlessly modern: high-ceilinged and open plan, lined with white marble and fixtureless white cabinets. The only nod to the past comes in the form of old wooden sills that unfurl around the windows of the partners’ offices.

  20. 05.10.11
    Sighted
    Matteo Thun on Memphis at Wallpaper.com

    Sighted on Wallpaper.com, an interview with architect Mattheo Thun marking the 30th anniversary of the Memphis group: the loose collective of Italian designers founded by the late Ettore Sottsass in 1981 and dedicated to shaking the shackles of Modernism. Thun talks to Wallpaper’s Emma O’Kelly about what it was really like to be on the front lines of the movement, whose risk-taking objects must have seemed tacky as hell to all but the most die-hard Italian design fans at the time — no more worthy of a museum collection than, say, the opening credits of Saved By the Bell — but whose influence on the history of contemporary design has since become indisputable. So much so that the Victoria and Albert museum will celebrate its lasting impact this fall as part of the blockbuster exhibition “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion.” Read the interview with Thun here, along with a selection of Wallpaper’s 40 archival photos from Memphis’s past.

  21. 03.21.11
    Excerpt: Book
    Architects’ Sketchbooks

    In the context of the hysteria currently surrounding all things old-fashioned and handmade, it makes a certain sense to mount an examination of architecture’s low-tech roots: those hand-rendered sketches and schematics that still tend to quietly precede even the most digitally advanced structures. It’s debatable whether the practice as a whole is consciously returning to those roots, as the new book Architects’ Sketchbooks argues, but when the architects who find joy in committing their thoughts to paper open their notepads for all to see, the appeal runs deeper than any cultural trend. “For me, the process is often more fascinating than the end result, and at the heart of architecture, which is part of the process of building worlds, lies the language of drawing,” writes Narinder Sagoo of Foster + Partners in the book’s foreword.

  22. 03.03.11
    What They Bought
    Brooks Hudson Thomas of Specific Merchandise

    I’d known about the Los Angeles design shop Specific Merchandise for nearly a year before I figured out that its name was a play on the idea of the general store. “I wanted to have a huge range of things, but when I started thinking about it, I liked the idea of flipping that and being specific rather than general,” says Brooks Hudson Thomas, the former Blackman Cruz manager who set out his own shingle at the beginning of last year on a stretch of Beverly Boulevard that includes Lawson-Fenning, L.A. Eyeworks, and the former digs of TenOverSix. “One model I had in mind was a museum shop, but sort of trying to kick its ass. The other was stores like Moss, Matter, and The Future Perfect, which also have that blurry store/gallery vibe.” It’s a shop model that’s only recently begun to take hold in Los Angeles with stores like TenOverSix and Iko Iko, and Thomas isn’t totally sure if people are catching on. “I think the context I show things in can be confusing to people,” he says. “I change over the stock a lot, and it goes from being quilts to chairs to paintings. A lot of times people will say, ‘Hey, what happened to that little shop?’”

  23. 12.17.10
    8 Things
    Stephan Jaklitsch, architect

    In the world of retail, there is a tendency towards sameness, a familiarity designed to lull shoppers into a complacent state in which they might begin to feel it’s okay to spend a lot of money. A Zara, anywhere in the world, is immediately identifiable by its gold-toned lighting and rows of shoes lined up haphazardly underneath the clothes; a Marni boutique leaves its mark with swooping stainless-steel rails and elliptical cutouts in the ceilings. As a brand, Marc Jacobs has never been about uniformity, though — this is a fashion designer, after all, who’s gone from the most infamous collection of grunge in history to the luxurious heights of Louis Vuitton — so why should his stores? “There are certain iconic elements that are repeated,” admits Stephan Jaklitsch, the New York–based architect who’s been responsible for Jacobs’s bricks-and-mortar for more than 10 years, “but in general, each store relates to its own specific building type, to the city’s specific urban condition, and to the architecture of the individual space. Although they’re identifiably connected, every one of them has a particular feel.”

  24. 08.25.10
    8 Things
    AvroKo’s Anglo-Asian Influences

    For the designers behind AvroKo, the New York firm known for its high-concept restaurant interiors, the most personal projects often start out as group obsessions. Lately, apropos of nothing, they’ve been compiling a collection of silent video clips featuring modern furniture or architecture, snipped from movies or pulled from obscure design archives. So far it’s just a game — “a meme floating around the office,” as partner Kristina O’Neal puts it — but the first time the team was so possessed, they began with a bank of photographs and ended up opening a restaurant. After securing several projects in Asia a few years back, they began carefully documenting the bizarre cultural mash-ups they found while on trips out East, from mangled English translations to neon-lit religious altars; in 2008 they opened Double Crown in New York’s East Village as an homage to their Anglo-Asian fascination, with food evoking the 19th-century British occupation of India, China, and Singapore. With a new AvroKo office in Hong Kong fielding projects like the recently opened New York–style eatery Lily in Bloom, their anthropological depository keeps growing.

  25. 08.13.10
    What It's Like
    To Live in a Schindler House, by Pin-Up Editor Felix Burrichter

    In March, Pin-Up magazine editor Felix Burrichter packed his bags and left New York for an extended stay in Los Angeles, where he met up with the Vienna artist Sarah Ortmeyer. Chosen for one of four annual residencies with Vienna’s Museum for Applied Arts (MAK) — whose L.A. branch is based in architect Rudolph Schindler’s 1922 Kings Road House — the pair have spent the intervening months shacked up in a two-bedroom apartment at the museum’s Mackey building, working on a joint project they’ll present on September 10. Called “XXX BURRICHTER ORTMEYER,” its main element is a publication focused on the mercurial relationship between Schindler and his wife; Burrichter has also taken advantage of the proximity to give the fall issue of Pin-Up an L.A. theme. Architecture buff that he is, we got to wondering how else he’d been inspired by his surroundings, so we invited him to share with us the experience of living in the recently renovated Mackey building, whose five apartments Schindler built in his trademark style in 1939. “It’s like living in a little museum,” he says. “At first we were like, this is crazy, but it’s really the perfect apartment, even though it’s so basic. We’ve been here for four and a half months now, and the longer we stay, the more we realize how well thought-out it is.”

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