The Prettiest Plants and Pots You’ve Ever Seen

A new book documents the jaw-dropping collaboration between Japanese plant whisperer Kohei Oda and longtime Sight Unseen favorite Adam Silverman, who over the past year have made a series of potted cacti that are amazing in their complete and total eccentricity.

Week of July 13, 2015

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: very on-trend iridescent flatware and terrazzo coasters, gorgeous oil-slick vases from a recent RISD grad, and the debut of the booksleeve (pictured above), an innovation we never realized we needed until now.
"More multi-level living found in the Milanese home of architect Mario Scheinchenbauer. This tonal and textural environment is timeless. Love the secret floor panels to hide the clutter. The stairs are just stunning, a sculpture."

Alex P. White, Artist

When we first met Brooklyn artist Alex P. White, it was in his role as a co-conspirator with interior designer Kelly Behun, with whom he'd created one of the most genius furniture collections in recent memory. But we've since gotten to know him as much, much more — as an interior designer and artist in his own right (whose playful project names include Playshroom and Wytchbytchru); as a designer whose latest furniture collection will debut in two weeks at Sight Unseen OFFSITE; and as the proprietor of a wonderfully specific Instagram feed, where we first stumbled upon this book in his rather extensive printed archive. When we asked him to write about Underground Interiors for our recurring From the Library column, we had no idea we'd get such a fun, deeply personal romp through its pages. If you're into conversation pits, wall-to-ceiling carpeting, elephant side tables, geometric travertine, or tubular steel, we suggest you read on in full.

Week of March 9, 2015

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: Three different projects that push the boundaries of glass, one photograph that suspends your belief in reality, and two books that subvert your expectations of what a book can do or be.

A Designer’s Eye: Paul Rand

If there's anyone we'd trust to put together a beautiful book of ephemera, it's JP Williams, the New York–based graphic designer whose collections — of baseball cards, of balls of twine, of Swiss office supplies, and the like — are legendary. But Williams's first book doesn't in fact catalog his own accumulations from years past but rather those of the iconic graphic designer Paul Rand, who Williams used to visit at his home before Rand's death in the late 1990s. But, Williams writes, "it was not until visiting Mrs. Rand that I discovered Mr. Rand's cache of items that he had saved from his travels. A large variety of items: packages, shopping bags, dolls, toys. So many were unfamiliar to me. As soon as I saw them I asked then and there if I could have them photographed. I asked the photographer Grant Peterson to shoot all of these items in hopes of doing a book. Well, 18 years later, here it is."

Sight Unseen: Esprit’s Brand Books

There are some books that are quoted, referenced, or photographed so often in our line of work that they begin to feel like touchstones for design-world enthusiasts all over the world. The Nathalie du Pasquier–illustrated Leonard Koren bible Arranging Things: A Rhetoric of Object Placement is of those such books; the late-'90s graphic-design manifesto Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist is another. But recently, another book has begun popping up no matter where we look. Esprit: The Comprehensive Design Principle — a huge, softcover paean to every design aspect of the beloved 1980s fashion brand — was published in 1989 by its founder Douglas Tompkins, but has experienced a resurgence of late in these '80s nostalgia–tinged, Memphis revival–happy times.

Lisa Mayock: Welcome to Big Biba

If there's anyone we would trust to guide us through the annals of vintage fashion literature, it's Lisa Mayock, co-founder of the sadly defunct, cool-girl label Vena Cava and now a Brooklyn-based creative consultant. So we were pretty thrilled when we sent out a call for this column a few months back and Mayock immediately responded with one of her most beloved and referenced books, BIG BIBA: Inside the Most Beautiful Store in the World. The book traces the short life of the 7-story Big Biba department store, which opened in 1973 after the fashion label's massive success as first a mail-order catalog and then a series of London boutiques.

Week of November 3, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week, old meets new with the resurgence of Op-Art and a 1950s desk lamp, a(nother) Franz West show, and of course, the usual smattering of new work by young talents, including the latest collection from Brooklyn weaving duo New Friends (above).

Sight Unseen: Jewelry By Architects

Until about six months ago, there was only one Munari we idolized: Bruno, one of our favorite 20th century designers and design theorists. (If you haven't read Design As Art, we suggest you hop to it!) But then, one fateful day this past spring, we were wandering aimlessly around the internet when we stumbled on what is perhaps the biggest editorial coup we've scored in years, and thus began our love affair with Cleto Munari — the Italian designer, who as far as we can tell is unrelated to Bruno, commissioned a dream-team of architects like Ettore Sottsass and Peter Eisenman in the early '80s to create a jewelry collection for his eponymous company, and the project had almost no coverage anywhere on the web. We immediately snapped up a copy of the incredible out-of-print book that documented it, which we're excerpting just a small portion of here.

Week of September 29, 2014

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.

First Impressions of Greece, by Mary Manning

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.

Strange Plants by Zio Baritaux

We've all been thinking it, but the Los Angeles writer and publisher Zio Baritaux finally did it — put together a project capturing the prevalence of plants in contemporary art these days. Her new book Strange Plants contains interviews with ten artists of varying mediums who focus on flora in their work — three of which we've excerpted below — plus selections from the portfolios of 15 more, including an interlude featuring tattoo artists. Baritaux says she was inspired to create the book not necessarily by the trend she was witnessing in the art world, but by the elaborate gardens full of koi ponds and topiaries that her mother grew when she was a child. "I didn’t really appreciate these gardens until I was an adult, living in an apartment in L.A. with no outdoor space or plants to call my own," Baritaux says. "There were plants throughout the neighborhood, like night-blooming jasmine and overgrown bougainvillea, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to experience them. So I brought plants inside my apartment — a hanging terrarium, a potted cactus, and so on. These plants brought back memories and inspired me, just like the art I had hanging on the walls. So it seemed natural to create a book that combined the two."