Tag Archives: Brooklyn

  1. 10.02.14
    Up and Coming
    Romy Northover, Ceramicist

    Ten years ago, Romy Northover was a student at Goldsmith College, an incredibly conceptual art school in London that she found to be grueling. “I’m a kinesthetic learner,” says the now Brooklyn-based ceramicist. “I figure things out by doing them, not just by thinking about them. I’m not an intellectual; it’s more experiential for me. But those were important years because they got me to where I am now.”

  2. 09.18.14
    Eye Candy
    Amy Brener, artist

    Brooklyn-based artist Amy Brener is all about excavating the technological artifact in her large, translucent, crystal-like sculptures. Each standing the height of an average-sized human, the totems are like some colossal peer of Thaddeus Wolfe’s ongoing Assemblage Series. Into these cast resin and concrete monoliths, Brener fossilizes decade-old Nokia phones, Fresnel lenses, and gypsum; once the cast dries, she chisels away, cracking sheets of plastic and remnants of our recent technological past, revealing sculptures that resemble the natural and the geological. The structures stand bright and vertical, weighted in a mix of familiar earthy rock formations and distant ideas of the supernatural. As Brener notes, “My pieces are artifacts from an imagined future.” Enjoy a small selection of our favorites after the jump.

  3. 09.17.14
    Sight Unseen Presents
    Our Fall Pop-Up at Space Ninety 8

    Having branched into retail three years ago with the Sight Unseen Shop — plus a few pop-ups along the way — we can definitively say that the only thing better than buying beautiful objects for ourselves is putting them out into the world for the enjoyment of others. When Marissa Maximo, curator of Space Ninety 8 in Williamsburg, offered us 500 square feet in which to host an event for the month of September, we figured it was the perfect opportunity to bring the work of some of our favorite makers — most of it destined for our fall shop collection — to a much wider audience. Designed by Syrette Lew of Moving Mountains and on view now through October 5, the pop-up consists both of items we admire (Pat Kim’s Soap on a Rope, Heddle & Needle’s wall weavings) and items we’ve commissioned exclusively for the Sight Unseen Shop (Ian Anderson’s Oden pitchers, Sandwich Shop’s Shapes Vase and Two-Tone Artifact Mug). See photos of the space — and our packed opening-night party — after the jump.

  4. 08.23.14
    Saturday Selects
    Week of August 18, 2014

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week had a very geometric vibe, from our favorite picks from the NYNOW gift fair, to a lamp inspired by ’80s virtual reality, to a photography series showcasing the nature of shadows.

  5. 08.19.14
    Where They've Been
    Helen Levi in the American Southwest

    Sometime in the past year, Brooklyn potter Helen Levi began making her popular Desert Tumblers, which evoke a kind of faded, windswept, Southwestern landscape by marbling white porcelain with sandy red clay. But the funny thing is, until this summer, New York–born Levi had never even been to the desert. “I’d been wanting to go to New Mexico since high school,” she says. “That landscape has always been kind of a dreamy thought, but my tumblers were based on my imagination of a place I’d never seen.” This summer, Levi decided to bite the bullet, taking a month off from work to road trip 7,000 miles — all the way to Albuquerque and back — making sure to stop along the way at places like the Pittsburgh factory where her clay is made and leaving enough time to simply wander off the road in search of this country’s vast natural beauty.

  6. 08.15.14
    Up and Coming
    Workaday Handmade

    Like many creatives we’ve interviewed before, Forrest Lewinger began his Workaday Handmade ceramics label while in the employ of someone else. Having studied ceramics in college and promptly dropped it to focus on more video-based, site-specific work, the Virginia-born designer found himself a year or so ago back behind the potter’s wheel, working as a studio assistant to a ceramicist in New York City. “A lot of times, artists think of their day job as an obstructive force,” laughs Lewinger. “I started to think of it as something more generative.”

  7. 08.12.14
    Q+A
    Jamie Wolfond of Good Thing

    When we’re asked by other journalists to talk about the evolution of American design, we pretty much always point to the same thing: the rise of independent designers and studios producing and selling their own work. Young American designers have increasingly become entrepreneurs in the past ten years, leveraging local manufacturing resources and online shopping platforms in order to bypass the need to wait around for big brands to do it for them. The latest such endeavor is Good Thing, a new company founded by designer Jamie Wolfond and based in New York that launches next week at NY NOW. Good Thing’s first collection consists of nine products by six different designers, from a sand-cast aluminum trivet to a coiled-plastic vase to a handmade clay mug. We spoke to Wolfond about the new venture and how he’s making it work.

  8. 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.

  9. 07.01.14
    Studio Visit
    Ilana Kohn, fashion designer

    “It was running joke as a kid, that all I wanted to wear were cut-offs and T-shirts,” says Ilana Kohn. “My mom would buy them by the pack, and I would cut the sleeves and the neck.” Of course, Kohn is now known as the creator of a rabidly collected, Brooklyn-based, cult-favorite clothing line, so was fashion always the master plan? Sure, she was interested in clothes, she says, but her teenage self would be more than a little surprised at this turn. At 18, she says, she did not want to be a “fashion person,” intending rather to study fine art and spend her life of painting. But after high school — in a move that would appease parents who worried about her making a living — Kohn left her native Virginia for New York City to study illustration at Pratt.

  10. 06.25.14
    Sighted
    Moving Mountains on Refinery29

    There’s only one thing we love as much as exhibiting the work of our favorite designers, like we did with Syrette Lew of Moving Mountains this May at our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event. And that’s snooping around their studios, unearthing old sketches, and pleading with them to put killer side projects into production. Luckily for us (since we’ve been a bit flush with travel this summer) Refinery29 took care of Lew’s visit for us. A gorgeously photographed studio visit with the Hawaiian-born, Bushwick-based designer ran on the site yesterday, and we thought it only fitting to share a few of our favorite bits here. Check out a short excerpt from that piece after the jump, then scroll down to read the rest over at Refinery29!

  11. 05.31.14
    Saturday Selects
    Week of May 26, 2014

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: super-colorful rugs and blankets that are surprisingly affordable, an 80-pound, solid-brass bookcase that’s anything but, a peek inside Totokaelo’s Seattle offices, and a covetable pair of Bauhausian chairs (above).

  12. 05.30.14
    Sighted
    Ian Stell Shot By Rob Howard

    With a debut solo show at Matter in April and a major presentation last week at Sight Unseen OFFSITE, up-and-coming furniture designer Ian Stell has had the opportunity to introduce his kinetic, transformable furniture to quite a few people this spring. Yet most of them, apparently, have read it completely wrong. “I’ve gotten comments recently from people who … assumed I have an engineering background or was trained as an architect, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he recently told photographer Rob Howard, on whose portfolio site we recently discovered dozens of shots of Stell at home in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and at his nearby studio. Howard recorded a short audio file of Stell very eloquently describing his background — he studied sculpture and painting, not engineering — and his approach to furniture design: “All of my designs sit somewhere in between poetry about functional objects and ones that are actually functional,” Stell tells Howard. “I don’t hesitate to pursue something even if it’s incredibly complex … As far as I’m concerned the world is about complexity, and nature is about complexity, and although I’m very happy that there are many people that take a reductive approach to design and to art … it’s not the way that I think.”

  13. 05.16.14
    The Essentials
    Creative Women at Work: Bec Brittain

    It’s amazing what a difference five years makes. When we first profiled New York lighting Bec Brittain in 2009, she was an artist and creative director at Lindsey Adelman’s studio, but her own design portfolio was so slim we featured only one of her creations: a chandelier she’d made for her own home out of off-the-shelf parts from McMaster-Carr. Fast forward five years and Brittain, who left Adelman’s studio to form a solo practice in 2011, is now one of the most exciting, in-demand lighting designers on the American design scene. She took from her former boss an appreciation for simple materials like brass, bronze, and hand-blown glass, but in Brittain’s hands those become the basis for more graphic, geometric forms, often inspired by the crystalline structures in nature. So when Shinola — the Detroit-based maker of leather goods, watches, and perfect on-trend office accessories, among other things —approached us a few months ago about partnering on a series about creative women professionals, Brittain was one of the first names that came to mind.

  14. 05.16.14
    Studio Visit
    Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza, Art and Design Duo

    This week, we’re featuring a series of designers, brands, and exhibitors participating in Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our brand new design fair taking place in New York City this weekend, May 16-20. Click here for more information.

    Partners in both life and work, Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza share a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where they run an art practice together as well as a design company called Chiaozza. Yet the first two things they ever collaborated on belonged to neither of those disciplines: One was a stew they made for dinner soon after they began dating — which took so long to cook that joking about it inspired their eventual website name, eternitystew.com — and the other was the pancakes they made the next morning. “We were fascinated by their topography, so we took some printmaking ink, inked up a pancake, and started making monoprints with them,” Frezza recalls. “That was when it began, this idea of turning our everyday life and domestic play into some kind of product or work.” Two and a half years later, it’s still the motivation underlying many of their colorful projects, which they characterize as existing at the “intersection of imagination and the natural world.”

  15. 05.14.14
    Where They've Been
    Calico Wallpaper at Villa Lena

    This week, we’re featuring a series of designers, brands, and exhibitors participating in Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our brand new design fair taking place in New York City this weekend, May 16-20. Click here for more information.

    A couple before they were partners in design, Nick Cope and Rachel Mosler founded Calico Wallpaper together two years ago in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Mosler was an art therapist on paid leave from NYU’s temporarily shuttered hospital; Cope ran a design/build firm whose projects had all been put on hold. “We’d always wanted to do a project that touched on both of our backgrounds — something for the home that had an art-like quality,” says Cope. “Rachel studied sculpture at RISD and has a Master’s in art therapy, and I went to NYU for photo and digital design.” On a lazy afternoon in the East Village, Cope found an image of obscure types of paper marbling in an antique shop and brought it home. Mosler loved it and immediately began delving into the history and process of the ancient technique. “We realized quickly we had something interesting on our hands,” says Cope.

  16. 05.13.14
    What They Bought
    The I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop

    This week, we’re featuring a series of designers, brands, and exhibitors participating in Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our brand new design fair taking place in New York City this weekend, May 16-20. Click here for more information.

    Ceramicists know how to deal with heartbreak — these are artists, after all, who make something they love and then willingly throw it into a fire. So while the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop that I’ve curated for Sight Unseen OFFSITE — opening at noon this Friday at 200 Lafayette in Soho — is in many ways a survey of talented young people working today in clay, it’s also a small tribute to the beauty in unpredictability and letting go. Unlike painting or weaving or most other mediums, potters don’t get to see the thing complete in front of them as they work. They shape a piece of clay with their hands and then give it over to the heat of the universe. And though this sounds totally cheeseball, that might be why I love it so much — that every piece carries in it some accident. The range of work in the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop is a reminder of this possibility in imperfection: our perpetual struggle to take the same stuff there has ever been – mud and fire, failure and ambition – and create of it something distinctly personal.

  17. 05.09.14
    Eye Candy
    ace&jig

    Stacked chevrons shot with metallic thread, plaids in earthy tones, small textured geometry and fat flat stripes. Ace&jig’s fabrics are the starting point for every collection, each textile custom-designed by the label’s duo, Cary Vaughan and Jenna Wilson, and then responsibly manufactured in India. This brilliantly styled preview of their Fall 2014 collection includes all of the label’s staple shapes: yoked blouses, peasant skirts, slouchy pants. But there’s also a notable inclusion of a bomber-style jacket, which sets up a very pleasing juxtaposition with a plaid mid-length skirt and our favorite: a quilted sweater that layers geometry with breathtaking modernity in its combination of woven pattern and over-stitch. Finally, we offer a nod to the complete genius of combining all this patterned wonder with spotted socks and spotted shoes. Hop on over here and check out their video short featuring Hannah Cohen being layered over and over in this clever collection.

  18. 05.07.14
    Studio Visit
    Upstate, fashion designers

    If there’s one thing we’ve learned here at Sight Unseen, it’s that a lack of training can sometimes go an awfully long way. Such was the case with Kalen Kaminski and Astrid Chastka of Upstate, who started their popular Brooklyn-based, shibori-inspired womenswear and accessories label back in 2010 with nary a day of fashion training between them. When they first met a few years earlier, Kaminski was an anthropology major turned prop stylist and Chastka was an architecture grad turned unhappy architect. Soon after bonding over an appreciation of handcrafted items, they found themselves trawling New York fabric stores, trying to replicate one of Kaminski’s vintage scarves. “We couldn’t find anything we liked, and we probably had no idea where to go,” Chastka told me when we visited the pair’s Greenpoint studio a few months back. “At the time, Kalen was living with an artist, and he had a shibori tapestry on his wall. We saw that, and we were like, ‘That’s perfect.’”

  19. 04.25.14
    Gramaway
    Win a Neon Tassel from Fredericks & Mae!

    Introducing the Gramaway on Sight Unseen! Every month you’ll be able to enter to win a prize by Instagramming your best image in response to a related theme. We’re kicking off the series with this 8-inch long, neon-yellow tassel by the Brooklyn design duo Fredericks & Mae, who we profiled back in 2010, and who will be launching their brand new 2014 collection — of which this tassel is a part — at next month’s Sight Unseen OFFSITE show. Fredericks & Mae have built a practice around tools, games, and vaguely ritualistic objects “with confused origins,” they say; the tassel may not have an obvious provenance or use, but it’s a lovely decorative object nonetheless. Read on for a chance to win it.

  20. 04.22.14
    Up and Coming
    Doug Johnston, Basket Artist

    Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Doug Johnston was surrounded by the Native American art that his parents voraciously collected — woven rugs, Kachina dolls and coiled baskets made from materials such as pine needles, yucca, acacia and bear grass. But when the Brooklyn-based designer decided a few years ago that he’d like to learn coiling himself, to make baskets from stitched lengths of cotton rope, he didn’t travel to the Southwest to train with a master craftsperson. Instead, he went on YouTube, scouring instructional videos for a new approach. “Traditional coiling techniques are really labor-intensive,” he says. “You have to go inch by inch, one stitch at a time, and mastering that technique could take years. I was too impatient.”

  21. 03.28.14
    What They Bought
    Local Made at Space Ninety 8

    When The Future Perfect abandoned its original Brooklyn location last summer, we thought we might never feel the need to shop on that particular block of Williamsburg again. The Future Perfect’s gorgeous digs got turned into a Gant, and for years we’ve felt we were a little too old for American Apparel. But come next Thursday, we’ll be making that trek on the L train again: Urban Outfitters is opening a concept shop on North Sixth Street called Space Ninety 8, complete with rotating gallery spaces, a restaurant, a rooftop bar, and, of course, clothing. But the draw for us will be located smack in the front window. That’s where a showcase called Local Made will take place, curated by Urban’s director of brand relations and special projects Marissa Maximo, who scoured the borough, commissioning exclusives from some of our favorite designers.

  22. 03.26.14
    Eye Candy
    Esther Ruiz, Artist

    Brooklyn artist Esther Ruiz refers to her sculptures as “settings,” “little parties,” and “miniature landscapes from a distant future,” but whatever you call them, they’re meant to act as colorful, abstracted symbols of imaginary places she’s conjured in her mind, and the objects that reside within them. Ruiz, who was born in Houston and graduated from the art program at Rhodes College in Memphis in 2011, showed the series in her first New York solo show this past October, at the Bushwick artist’s space Wayfarers. According to her artist’s statement, she’s inspired “mostly by space operas, pop culture, geometry and the setting sun.”

  23. 03.21.14
    Eye Candy
    Cassie Griffin, ceramicist

    Cassie Griffin is a Brooklyn-based ceramicist who was introduced to us by our friend (and sometime model) Lulu Wolf. However, when we went to search the Internet for more information about Griffin’s dreamy ceramics — and their goofy everyday object–styled photos — we came up empty, save for a post on Design Sponge. So we reached out to Griffin herself, who gave us the scoop: “I’ve been working with clay for about three years,” she writes. “I took a few classes in the city out of a vague interest, and that sparked a love for the process and I guess what you could call a knack for the material. I find endless opportunity to learn from the medium and I’m continuously fascinated by its essential elements: glaze chemistry, clay bodies, sculptural vs. functional, firing options — the list goes on. Some people have labeled my work ‘playful.’ But it’s sincere, that playfulness. I’m not necessarily conscious that I’m being playful. I am just experimenting — not concerned with producing a product but rather making things that I have a desire to see manifest in my home, a friend’s shelf, or a pedestal. It’s also a real projection of my personality, which is never really taking itself too seriously!”

  24. 03.11.14
    Artist's Proof
    Tombstone Chairs by Greg Buntain of Fort Standard

    From an outside perspective, the Brooklyn furniture-design studio Fort Standard exudes the aura of a successful business with a clear DNA. Yet that wasn’t always the case: When co-founders Ian Collings and Greg Buntain first joined forces in 2011, after graduating together from Pratt, they had no idea what direction to take — they simply dove headlong into the making process. “We had one goal: to do our own thing,” Buntain said in a recent interview. Their stock may have risen since then, but behind the scenes, the pair still make an effort to keep things loose; to maintain a sense of discovery in their shared practice, they both do separate solo work on the side, little personal experiments and objects they create for their own homes. Occasionally these prototypes are developed into Fort Standard products, but most of the time they go unseen, as was the case for Buntain’s marble Tombstone chairs before we spotted them on Instagram. When we approached the designer to ask him if we could share them with you in the interview after the jump, it turned out he had a home full of personal pieces he’d made but also never shared with the public, which he was kind enough to walk us through in the second half of this story.

  25. 02.25.14
    Eye Candy
    Otto Knits

    Despite a BFA from Parsons, Roula Nassar sees her grandfather as the biggest influence in her design education. “He was an engineer by trade, but he was also a self taught sculptor and photographer. If something interested him he would take it upon himself to figure out how to do it, in his own way. I really identify with that approach — working outside of a system or industry to conceive things in a singular way.” You can certainly see his legacy in Nassar’s multi-disciplinary studio Otto. Based in Brooklyn, Otto has an output ranging from photography, through books and film, to the three dimensional: knitwear and a currently-in-progress resin bowl.

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