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.
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.
Thanks to the power of e-commerce, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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,
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.
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.