Jewelry By Architects

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.
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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.
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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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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Slag Glas Bookends From Bazazas

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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D’Agostin in his brand new studio in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood, sitting atop his BMW R100. “It’s from 1983 — like me!” he says. Behind him is a photograph of a man riding a bicycle in Shanghai, to which he paid three different 10-day visits last year for a book that's coming out soon. D’Agostin only shoots film and only in black and white, making most of his prints himself in his studio darkroom.

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."
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