Tag Archives: Books

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 08.01.13
    What They Bought
    Keren Richter and Gabriel Kuo’s RATS Pop-Up Shop in Berlin

    Talk about the right place at the wrong time: I left Berlin to come back to New York two weeks ago, and thus managed to miss what may end up being the coolest event of the summer, tonight’s opening of Keren Richter and Gabriel Kuo’s RATS pop-up shop in Mitte. Kuo, who’s an art director and graphic designer, and Richter, an illustrator and artist, are both longtime New Yorkers who (like me) consider Berlin as something of a second home; for RATS, they joined forces to bring the German capital a strange sampling of some of their favorite objects and oddities from New York and beyond, everything from Fort Standard bottle openers to Knicks hats to strange souvenirs they’ve acquired on their travels. If you’re in Berlin or headed there, don’t miss the chance to visit the shop at Torstrasse 68 before it closes at the end of August. Otherwise, get a virtual sneak peek at it here, alongside an interview with Richter and Kuo about how and why they put the RATS project together.

  4. 06.27.13
    Studio Visit
    Matthew Shlian, paper engineer

    Knowing what we do about Matthew Shlian, it’s hard to believe that the Ann Arbor, Michigan–based artist ever thought he wanted to be a ceramicist. Ceramics is a medium of imprecision and risk, full of frequent failure and a high degree of unknowability. Shlian, on the other hand, can be found these days doing one of three things, each of which requires an almost uncanny amount of precision: drumming; working with scientists at the University of Michigan using paper to visualize structures at the micro and nano scales; or folding and gluing paper into intricate sculptures that range from 11×11-inch editions for Ghostly International to an 8-foot installation in the window of a New York Levi’s flagship. “I’ve always loved geometry,” Shlian says. “I understand spatial relations and I can envision the leap from 2D to 3D pretty easily. That kind of led the way to paper, and paper became the medium by which to execute a lot of my ideas.”

  5. 06.13.13
    The Making of
    Rachel Hulin’s Flying Baby Series

    The photographs in Rachel Hulin’s Flying Series, in which her baby Henry appears to float in the landscape, have a dreamy, almost magical quality to them, but they started in the most pedestrian of ways: Hulin was kind of bored. A new mom who’d recently relocated from Brooklyn to Providence, Rhode Island, she says, “I was looking for a project to sink my teeth into while I was home with Henry when he was so little. I was trying figure out motherhood and the whole thing seemed so weird to me.” A former blogger and photo editor who’d spent the better part of nine years constantly looking at pictures, she was aware of a genre of photos called “floaters” and was interested in the figure in landscape as well — “finding a beautiful scene and somehow making it more personal by putting someone you love in it,” she says. She never expected to do a floating series of her own, but once she did one photo, she was kind of hooked. “Partly it was being in a new city, trying to find special places with a baby,” she says. “It was a nice thing to do together. It became what we did in the afternoons.”

  6. 06.06.13
    From the Library Of
    Ladies & Gentlemen Studio: Scandinavian Design Gallery

    Books about mid-century Scandinavian design are a dime a dozen. Jacobsen chairs, Aalto stools, Juhl sofas — you know the drill. But if you’ve ever been to a design museum in Stockholm or Helsinki, you probably also know that some of the coolest objects made in the region date back to a more unexpected era: the ’80s, when good things weren’t just happening in Italy, believe it or not. A few months back, we spotted some examples of said amazingness on the Instagram feed of the Seattle design duo Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, which they’d noted were pulled from a vintage book they’d rediscovered while cleaning house. And so this column was born, a place for people to show off strange, beautiful, and mostly out-of-print volumes that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day. Browse selections from Scandinavian Design Gallery in the slideshow here — complete with caption text plucked from the book and sporadic Ladies & Gentlemen accompanying commentary — then let us know if you have a gem of your own to share.

  7. 05.29.13
    Eye Candy
    Sheryl Oppenheim, Artist

    Sheryl Oppenheim swirls paint on paper creating marvelous marblings. She’s collected and bound her works in booklets titled Alba Amicorum. Oppenheim’s dazzling Black Hours series are full size marbled “drawings” made on Dieu Donné paper.

  8. 05.08.13
    Eye Candy
    Marlon Ilg & Simon Trüb, Designers

    Marlon Ilg & Simon Trüb, a resourceful print design duo hailing from Switzerland, created a series of hardcover books entitled, Bändlistrasse 27, 8064 Altstetten. The books feature collected remnants and leftovers from projects made during their time working in the Zurich neighborhood of Altstetten.

  9. 04.05.13
    8 Things
    Bodega Gallery Press

    Just walking into Bodega Gallery in Philadelphia’s Old City and being greeted by one of its five cool, young founders — or browsing its online archive of past exhibitions, which is peppered with names like Sam Falls and Travess Smalley — you could easily file it alongside similar edgy, high-brow art establishments in cities like L.A., New York, or Paris. And then you find yourself conversing with a few of said cool, young founders (all of them artists themselves and graduates of Hampshire College), and you hear them say things like “stuff is for sale if people want to buy it, but that’s not the driving force,” or “this is just a space — everything happens around it, and nothing happens at it,” and you realize that the economics of a place like Philly can be even more freeing for projects like this than you’d imagined. Bodega really is just a space, one that’s run by Elyse Derosia, Ariela Kuh, Lydia Okrent, James Pettengill, and Eric Veit, but where it feels like almost anything could happen.

  10. 02.27.13
    Excerpt: Book
    Carl Auböck: The Workshop by Clemens Kois and Brian Janusiak

    Is it possible to love something too much? What about when you’re an avid collector of something that teeters on the line between fame and obscurity? For Austrian photographer Clemens Kois, a longtime devotion for the century-old Viennese design workshop Carl Auböck carried a particularly trying dilemma: He had the chance to make a book that could finally introduce the long-overlooked brand to the mainstream, vindicating his fervor and helping to build up the very collecting market he was engaged in, but that would in all likelihood make it harder for him to acquire the objects he loved so much. Luckily for the rest of us, he chose to follow his passion, joining forces with Brian Janusiak of Project No. 8 and powerHouse Books to create Carl Auböck: The Workshop, which came out this past fall. We’ve excerpted eight of the objects Kois shot for the book, along with their backstories, as told to he and Janusiak by Carl Auböck IV, the latest son to run this multi-generational atelier.

  11. 02.07.13
    Excerpt: Book
    Irving Harper: Works in Paper

    To say Irving Harper once worked in the office of George Nelson is kind of like saying Hillary Clinton once worked in the office of Barack Obama — Harper’s contributions were almost too many to count. He worked under Nelson for 17 years and was responsible for some of the studio’s — and design history’s — most famous works, including the Marshmallow sofa and Herman Miller’s still-current logo. Rizzoli recently published a book on Harper, but it wasn’t to set the record straight about who did what (there’s long been controversy over Nelson receiving credit for things that were actually authored by Harper.) No, the book, Irving Harper: Works in Paper, reveals Harper’s even more secret life.

  12. 11.09.12
    What We Saw
    At the 2012 Łódź Design Festival

    Over the past two years, there’s been an explosion of design weeks popping up on this side of the pond, in smaller, more far-flung American metropolises like Portland, St. Louis, and Baltimore. But Europe’s had a hold on this whole second-city-hosts-a-worldwide-design-event for years now. Take Lodz, the third-largest city in Poland, whose design festival is already six years strong. The Lodz Design Festival plays host to homegrown talents like Tomek Rygalik, as well as designers from abroad — both of which were a draw to our newest correspondent and dear friend Thorsten Van Elten, the London-based producer and retailer who reported on the event for us last week. But the real attraction, says Van Elten, was the city of Lodz itself. “At the beginning of this year I went to Transylvania, and I decided that I really need to travel to more places I’ve never been to. Poland was high on the list so when I saw a link on Facebook about the Łódź Design Festival, I checked for flights and hotel and managed to find two nights for just over £100. There really was no excuse not to go!”

  13. 10.16.12
    Excerpt: Book
    Cabinets of Wonder

    Back in 2006, when Freeman’s opened in New York and Jason Miller’s Antler chandelier was selling like hotcakes at The Future Perfect in Williamsburg (it probably still is), that whole taxidermy thing hit hard — stuffed deer heads suddenly becoming the de facto symbol for a style movement dedicated to the return to nature, the embracing of all things old-fashioned, and in many cases, the compulsion to dress like a bearded woodsman. Six years later, some of the less meaningful elements of that trend have subsided, while its obsession with authenticity and craftsmanship have, thankfully, hung on strong. We would also argue for the longevity of another development that arose around that time but strikes us as evergreen: the fascination with curiosities, and cabinets of curiosity, that may have hit its modern fever pitch recently but seems somehow endemic to the human psyche. We are by nature collectors, prone to hunting, preserving, and displaying our treasures both for our own amusement and to impress others. And most of us, too, have a dark side — the kind that can’t help but find beauty in bones, bugs, and dead things, provided they’re presented to us in the right context. That’s why we felt so compelled to share with our readers the contents of a new book out on Abrams this month called Cabinets of Wonder, which is a full-color romp through the world of natural oddities, memento mori, and other dark artifacts.

  14. 09.12.12
    Studio Visit
    New Friends, weavers

    Back in 2009, Kelly Rakowski was a graphic designer at Todd Oldham in New York, and Alex Segreti was living in Philadelphia, working in the textiles department at Urban Outfitters. In her free time, Rakowski ran a blog called Nothing is New, for which she scoured image archives on the web, unearthing old exhibition catalogs, classic spreads from magazines like Domus, and vintage ceramics and textiles. Segreti had a blog as well, called Weird Friends, where she documented similar obsessions: craft, pattern, art, ceramics, textiles, and dogs. The two had never met, but when Rakowski emailed Segreti on a whim one day to tell her how much she liked her site, they began to bond; when both expressed a desire to learn how to weave by hand, they decided to embark on an experiment. They shipped each other yarn, so they’d have the same palette to work from, and a few months later Rakowski made the trip to Philly. They had dinner, retired to Segreti’s apartment, and showed each other their weavings. “They kind of looked the same,” Rakowski remembers. “It was crazy. Now we always come up with the idea together but work separately, and when we meet, we forget who did what because everything magically works.” The two eventually made their design partnership official, merging the names of their online identities into a fitting moniker: New Friends.

  15. 06.05.12
    Q+A
    With Martin Lorenz, Co-Editor of Pretty Ugly

    There are moments, when leafing through the pages of Gestalten’s latest opus Pretty Ugly, that you’ll feel a little perplexed. Not by the stretched and layered type that practitioners of the New Ugly graphics movement use to obscure the messages contained in their work, nor by the fact that brands and organizations are trying to sell themselves with these deliberately obtuse images. What you’ll find so confusing, rather, is just how beautiful most of the projects appear, despite their creators’ best attempts at visual rebellion — a fact acknowledged by the book’s editors, Lupi Asensio and Martin Lorenz of the Barcelona-based firm twopoints.net, in its oxymoronic title. There are two reasons for this, Lorenz revealed when Sight Unseen sat down to interview him about the project. The first and most obvious is that we’re closer to the end of the New Ugly movement than the beginning, which is precisely what made the couple feel the time was ripe for a retrospective; Steven Heller has written about it, Urban Outfitters has embraced it, and we’ve gotten increasingly used to it — and desensitized to its shock value — ever since Mike Meiré used it to redesign 032c magazine in 2007. The second reason, and the one your editors found particularly compelling, is that somewhere along the line the New Ugly actually became less about rule-breaking and more about documenting process, with designers creating works that aim to expose the mechanics behind their boundary-pushing techniques. Read more of Lorenz’s thoughts about Pretty Ugly in our interview, after the jump.

  16. 04.10.12
    Excerpt: Book
    Max Lamb Outtakes from Paper View, Launching Today

    It’s official: Sight Unseen’s first printed edition, Paper View, is finally out, and we’ve held it in our very own hands. Tonight, we’ll celebrate with Karlsson’s Vodka, whose Unfiltered initiative also officially launches with the debut of our project. But today, we’ve prepared something special for you in honor of the occasion, a series of outtakes from one of the articles published in Paper View: A catalog of Max Lamb’s personal collections, which first ran on Sight Unseen early last year. While the vast majority of the 24 stories in the printed edition are brand new, and won’t be found anywhere else but in its pages, we couldn’t resist including Lamb’s Inventory, which seemed to perfectly encapsulate what we’re all about at Sight Unseen — personal photos of things normally off limits to the general public, depicting not just a series of hoarded objects but a veritable roadmap to Lamb’s design practice. “It’s often the physicality or materiality of these objects that inspires me to try my hand at working with a particular material, or to develop a version of the process used to shape it,” he said in the original interview. For this web excerpt, Lamb dug out five additional images for us and offered quick insights into their contents. Check out his explanations below, then follow the link at the bottom to purchase a copy of Paper View.

  17. 03.02.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book, Part VI

    The launch of the first-ever Sight Unseen printed edition — debuting in April as part of the Karlsson’s Vodka Unfiltered project — is just around the corner. As of today, we’re putting the first 100 copies up for pre-sale in the Sight Unseen Shop, which will ship to buyers on approximately April 13. We’re only printing 400 for now, so click here to grab one while you can! An 88-page softcover designed by Studio Lin, it’s packed with 21 brand new, up-close-and-personal stories on Peter Shire, Anntian, Keegan McHargue, Shabd, Shin Okuda, Wary Meyers, Andy Rementer, Raven & Boar, Cmmnwlth, Sanntu Mustonen, Leutton Postle, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, New Friends, Jade Lai, Nacho Alegre, Patrick Parrish, Brian Janusiak and Elizabeth Beer, Felix Burrichter, Roanne Adams, Roman and Williams, and Sebastian Wrong. Meanwhile, today is your last chance to guess the subject of our sneak peek photograph for a chance to win a free copy.

  18. 02.29.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book

    The launch of the first-ever Sight Unseen book — debuting in April as part of the Karlsson’s Vodka Unfiltered project — is just around the corner. This week, we’re posting sneak peek images and asking our readers to guess who the subject of each photograph might be. Here’s a quote from today’s featured designer, an illustrator and University of the Arts grad who spent some formative years at Fabrica, where he became inspired by these vintage Italian comics: “There is a fun, visually approachable quality to my work but ultimately I try to convey some darkness or satirical angle. If it’s too nice, then it’s boring for me.”

  19. 02.27.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book

    The launch of the first-ever Sight Unseen book — debuting in April as part of the Karlsson’s Vodka Unfiltered project — is just around the corner. Now through Friday, when we’ll go back to business as usual with a story by a brand new Sight Unseen guest contributor, we’re posting sneak peek images and asking our readers to guess who the subject of each photograph might be. Here’s a quote from today’s featured designers, a duo whose colorful Berlin-based fashion line seamlessly incorporates objects like teacups, pillows, and rugs: “I almost always start our prints from photos. I collect structures — for example for the last winter season, we were walking down the street photographing different surfaces from the ground, which gave us ideas for the graphics. Those images were taken out and put together again to create a digital print.”

  20. 02.24.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book

    The launch of the first-ever Sight Unseen book — debuting in April as part of the Karlsson’s Vodka Unfiltered project — is just around the corner. Over the next two weeks, we’re posting sneak peek images and asking our readers to guess who the subject of each photograph might be. Here’s a quote from today’s featured designers, who manufacture their latest product line at the upstate New York woodworking shop shown here: “We have a facility with complex forms, but that’s not appreciated sometimes. For this project, it was almost like let’s work with the dumbest inspiration possible.”

  21. 02.22.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book

    The launch of the first-ever Sight Unseen book — debuting in early April with a bash co-hosted by Creatures of Comfort and the Karlsson’s Vodka Unfiltered project — is just around the corner. Over the next two weeks, we’re posting sneak peek images and asking our readers to guess who the subject of each photograph might be. Here’s a quote from today’s featured designer: “We both nerd out a lot when it comes to materials. We like finding something new and researching it. For a month we were playing around with shellac. Basically it’s beetle excrement, and when you order it really raw, it comes with beetle parts and bark dust still in it.”

  22. 02.20.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book

    Here at Sight Unseen, we typically only take a break from our regular programming in order to retreat to someplace warm and sunny, where we can subsist primarily on fish tacos and beer. But for the next two weeks, we’ll actually be hunkering down in our New York apartments, spinning out stories for the imminent publication of the first Sight Unseen book, which is set to debut in early April as part of the Unfiltered project by Karlsson’s Vodka. We’re especially excited to announce that our book launch will coincide with the debut of a Sight Unseen pop-up shop taking place at the New York branch of Creatures of Comfort for the entire month of April. Both the book and the shop will be populated with amazing work both by makers we’ve already covered for the site, and by those we’ve always longed to feature. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be posting preview images here from some of the book’s features, but we’re leaving it up to you, our readers, to guess who the subject of each photograph might be.

  23. 12.15.11
    Excerpt: Book
    DIY Furniture: A Step-By-Step Guide

    As lovers of and writers about design, there’s one question we’re constantly asking ourselves: How can we get designers to make us their amazing pieces at cost? But what we nearly always fail to wonder is: Would it actually be possible to make these pieces ourselves? DIY Furniture changes all that, presenting 30 projects from the likes of Peter Marigold, Uhuru, Lindsey Adelman, and Paul Loebach, along with blueprints on how to make each one with off-the-shelf parts ranging from plastic water pipes to zip ties (a Sight Unseen obsession, they pop up in at least four projects). The entries range from the ultra-practical (a woven rug made from cargo rope knotted with twine) to the semi-ridiculous (kudos to anyone who attempts Julia Lohmann’s cast-concrete and wool Resilience Table, which the designer created for her solo exhibition at 2008’s Design Miami/Basel and which now sells for an undisclosed sum at Moss).

  24. 11.17.11
    What They Bought
    Miranda July’s Resale Shop at Partners & Spade

    Miranda July’s art has always been almost obsessively participatory. In one of her most famous works, “Learning to Love You More,” July dispatched open calls from a website of the same name — exceptionally prosaic assignments like “Record the sound that is keeping you awake” or “Document your bald spot” — and watched as the drawings, videos, photos, and lists poured in from fans around the world, creating an addictive online archive of the mundane. In another, installed at the Venice Biennale in 2009, July created 11 outdoor sculptures on which visitors were meant to pose for pictures they could send to their loved ones. So it makes a certain kind of sense that July would eventually end up in the most transactional business of all — retail — recasting capitalism as a newfangled way in which to engage her audience. For It Chooses You, a resale shop popping up tonight through December 11 at Partners & Spade in New York, July scoured the New York classifieds, buying up other people’s discards — like a collection of stolen oil paints or a pair of taxidermied deer hooves — and interviewing the sellers to discern the original meaning of those once-cherished objects.

  25. 11.15.11
    Excerpt: Book
    Where They Create, by Paul Barbera

    Because he’s been doing it since he was 16 — when he used his very first camera to shoot the art studio of a friend’s father — documenting the workspaces of creatives is second nature to Australian photographer Paul Barbera. So much so that he can now identify his own memes: piles of rubbish on a table, trash cans, air conditioners, outdated technology. “How many fax machines have I found that are covered in dust but powered up, just in case I get a fax?” laughs Barbera, whose new book Where They Create and three-year-old website of the same name are full of such telling references. Then there are the potted plants, which are perhaps his greatest weakness: “Whether they’re dead, alive, half-alive, someone’s put ashes into them, or the pot’s cracked, I love it — there’s such variation in that stupid little element.” It’s an inexplicable yet undeniable urge that we’re quite familiar with around here, searching for flashes of personality in unexpected details, which is why we felt drawn to Barbera’s work in the first place (he’s a Sight Unseen contributor). It’s also why we decided to excerpt a chapter of his book, the one devoted to the New York–based designers Cmmnwlth, in this post.

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