Tag Archives: Books

  1. 04.30.15
    From the Library Of
    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.

  2. 03.14.15
    Saturday Selects
    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.

  3. 03.06.15
    Excerpt: Book
    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.”

  4. 02.18.15
    From the Library Of
    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.

  5. 01.16.15
    From the Library Of
    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.

  6. 11.08.14
    Saturday Selects
    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).

  7. 11.05.14
    From the Library Of
    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.

  8. 10.04.14
    Saturday Selects
    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.

  9. 09.29.14
    Eye Candy
    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.

  10. 08.11.14
    Excerpt: Book
    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.”

  11. 08.07.14
    From the Library Of
    Ellen Van Dusen

    If there’s anyone who knows a little something about calibrating the perfect pattern, it’s Ellen Van Dusen. The D.C.-born fashion designer is Brooklyn’s reigning queen of prints, with nine seasons under her belt as Dusen Dusen, the line for which she creates flattering basics marked by colorful fruits, stripes, curves, dots, geometrics, and the like. So it made sense when we recently learned two things about Van Dusen: one, that she studied in college the psychology of design and the brain’s reaction to visual stimuli; and two, that she has a pretty incredible resource library to back that major up. On a recent visit to her Williamsburg studio, we perused her stacks, which included the massive, Todd Oldham–designed Alexander Girard monograph from a few years back and some amazing old Esprit books that we already had planned to excerpt in the coming weeks. But it was this book on Yaacov Agam, an Israeli sculptor and experimental artist known for his optical and kinetic work, that seemed to best represent Van Dusen’s joyful spirit. “As a textile designer, this is a huge source of inspiration,” Van Dusen admits. “I have named more than one print after Agam!” Here she tells the story of how she discovered Agam’s body of work and the long-lasting effect it has had on her own.

  12. 07.22.14
    From the Library Of
    Joanna Williams of Kneeland Co

    Last summer, we ran one of our favorite stories to date: a glimpse inside an 1980s-era Scandinavian design book that Seattle designers Ladies & Gentlemen Studio had unearthed while cleaning house. We’d intended to keep going with the column — ostensibly a place where people could show off the strange, beautiful, and mostly out-of-print volumes that populated their libraries — but somehow it fizzled out. We’d been talking this summer about resurrecting it, when at the same time we found out that Joanna Williams, the LA-based owner of the Kneeland textile studio and online marketplace was opening a third branch of her multi-faceted business: a research library, where clients could comb through the curated images Williams has amassed over the years or search through books or magazines focused on graphics, textiles, decorating, and more. We’d found our first subject.

  13. 02.07.14
    Eye Candy
    Slag Glas Bookends From Bazazas

    Thanks to the power of e-commerce — and the occasional abandoned shack — quite a few creatives have felt inspired lately to open small, tightly curated shops featuring weird and wonderful small-batch objects by young makers (see also: Handjob Gallery Store). The newest is Bazazas, founded by the designers Scarlett Boulting of opus and Mary Voorhees Meehan. They’ve assembled a quirky yet sophisticated selection of objects by folks like Études Studio, ceramicist Giselle Hicks, and jewelry designer Sandra Russell, but our favorite offering is no doubt this in-house series of Slag Glas Bookends.

  14. 02.01.14
    Saturday Selects
    Week of January 27, 2014

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: a stunning geometric ’70s tapestry piece, dispatches from the LA Art Book Fair, an unconventional take on a diamond ring, and a jealousy-inducing Art Deco-era necklace (pictured above) found by Caitlin Mociun at an antique fair in Miami.

  15. 01.18.14
    Saturday Selects
    Week of January 13, 2014

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: vintage Brooklyn hipster interiors, shelves inspired by Venetian bridges, a new website for Josef and Anni Albers, Sottsass Bacterio bookends (above), and more.

  16. 12.20.13
    Excerpt: Book
    Dixonary

    If we had to elect the most Sight Unseen–like book ever published, Tom Dixon’s Dixonary might land at the very top of that list. In the intro he writes, “A book about me? I wasn’t sure I needed one — at least until I am dead, at which point people can write what they like.” But personally we wish this kind of book existed for all of our favorite visual artists. In it, Dixon pairs photographs of his own designs, dating all the way back to his early-’80s punk days, with the images that inspired them, and then tells the micro-stories behind each one. There are obvious pairings (Dixon’s Lustre lights with an oil spill, for example) and those that are more obscure (his 1994 Jack Light with concrete sea defenses from Yakushima Island, Japan). The book fleshes out the more well-known contours of Dixon’s story. For instance, we knew he was a welder, but did we imagine that meant he spent time in the early ’80s making chairs out of things like frying pans and ladles? Those early experiments — so far from the more polished work Dixon creates under his own label these days — are one of the most fascinating aspects of the book, so we’ve excerpted a few of our favorites after the jump.

  17. 11.27.13
    Studio Visit
    Renato D’Agostin, Photographer

    Renato D’Agostin was born and raised in Venice, Italy, “where for most people photography in those days meant weddings and passport pictures,” he says. Yet the city did manage to nurture his future career, if only inadvertently so: After falling in love with a photograph of an elephant that his mother won in a town prize drawing, he commandeered his father’s Nikon, signed up for a local photography class, and spent his teenage years documenting scenes from everyday Venetian life, a process he’s hewed towards ever since. Still, he considers his first foray away from home in 2002, on a road trip through the capitals of Western Europe, to be his most formative experience. “I took that trip to see if interpreting reality was what I really wanted to do,” D’Agostin recalls. “From that moment on, I never had any doubt. I felt like traveling was the place where I wanted to live, and the camera was my extension.”

  18. 11.25.13
    Eye Candy
    Drawings Based on Sculptures Based on Drawings, by Will Bryant

    Portland illustrator Will Bryant’s latest project is a book whose subject matter is pretty meta: It’s filled with drawings that were inspired by a series of sculptures he made that were themselves based on his drawings.

  19. 11.15.13
    Excerpt: Book
    David Altmejd, from Studio Life by Sarah Trigg

    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.”

  20. 10.22.13
    The Making Of
    Lena Corwin’s Made By Hand

    The sense that anyone can attempt these 26 DIYs — which include tie-dying with Shabd Simon-Alexander, jewelry-making with Jennifer Sarkilahti of Odette, and marbling with Ilana Kohn — comes in part from the incredibly detailed, step-by-step photographs, which were taken during the course of a weeklong shoot last fall at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes, of the photography site 3191 Miles Apart, who also shot the film photographs documenting the day-by-day of the shoot, which we’re sharing here today,

  21. 10.08.13
    Sighted
    Q+A With Shabd on Martha Stewart Living

    When we interviewed Brooklyn artist and fashion designer Shabd for our Paper View book a year and a half ago, it was all about the fine art practice she sidelined in order to start her tie-dyed clothing and accessories business. But with this post, everything comes full circle — now that Shabd has a book out of her own, filled with tutorials on her dyeing techniques, we’re finally taking the chance to hear more about what she actually does on a daily basis, by way of an interview recently posted on the Martha Stewart Living blog. As you may recall from our original story, Shabd learned to tie-dye somewhat by accident, after attending a garden party where it was one of the featured activities, and then, according to the interview, which we’ve excerpted parts of below, “spent a year playing around and developing new techniques to create dye patterns that were more grown-up and modern, beyond what I had seen before.” You can learn to master them as well by buying her book, “Tie-Dye: Dye it, wear it, share it,” but meanwhile, check out the Q+A after the jump that delves deeper into Shabd’s methods and inspirations.

  22. 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.

  23. 09.13.13
    Sighted
    Book/Shop on Remodelista

    Like so many amazing creative people and endeavors these days, we were first introduced to Erik Haywood’s Book/Shop project through Instagram, where we fell for his beautiful plywood book stand, and where his fans include SU besties Wary Meyers and Mondo Blogo. So we were excited to see gorgeous pictures of his brick and mortar store in California pop up on Remodelista yesterday, following an interview they did with him back in January which we somehow missed. In the new post, Haywood explains his M.O.: “We are not a bookstore, that’s not really what we’re doing. We’re here to encourage people to go to bookstores, visit libraries, and live with books. Now, with the internet, what’s the point of going to a bookstore when you have a specific title in mind?” As Remodelista’s Alexa Holz points out in the piece, Book/Shop’s selection of vintage and rare books is meant “to expose you to something you didn’t actually have in mind,” she writes.

  24. 08.22.13
    Excerpt: Book
    Pattern Box

    We were already pretty sold on the idea of Pattern Box — a new postcard box set curated by New York’s Textile Arts Center — which gathers together 100 different prints by 10 of our favorite illustrators and textile designers. We imagined sending off thank yous backed by Eskayel’s dreamy, washed-out blues or get well soons accompanied by Leah Goren’s graphic black cats. (With 100 cards to blow through, even our garage guy might get a holiday bonus paper clipped to Helen Dealtry’s abstract florals.) But then we found the little booklet tucked inside, which contains wonderful, Sight Unseen–like Q&As that delve into the inspiration and process behind each designer and we knew we had to share.

  25. 08.16.13
    Eye Candy
    Hansje van Halem’s End Paper Collection

    There’s nothing quite like cracking open a new book and discovering enchanting patterned end papers. A complement to the cover, a welcome addition to the books design and a necessity to book binding. Graphic designer Hansje van Halem gathered together a collection of her favorite end papers and shared them on her portfolio site. This collection is a perfect companion to van Halem’s own work, which encompasses both pattern and book design.

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