Tag Archives: Brooklyn

  1. 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.

  2. 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.”

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.’”

  7. 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.

  8. 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.”

  9. 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.

  10. 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.”

  11. 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!”

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 02.19.14
    Up and Coming
    Studio Visibility, Product Designers

    Sina Sohrab was born in Tehran and raised in Detroit; Joseph Guerra is a native Los Angelean who grew up outside Atlanta. Yet when the pair met as undergrads at RISD, their backgrounds turned out to be their most influential commonality: “There was this emphasis in both our families on earning your possessions and respecting them — it’s something we really connected on,” recalls Sohrab. “Joey’s dad, for example, had this idea that he wanted all of his possessions to reference an older possession he’d had at another point in his life. This timeline of objects and the idea of emotional value became really important to us.” Upon graduating in 2012, the duo knew they wanted to team up; Sohrab moved to New York and took a job at Bec Brittain studio, while Guerra spent six months in Europe working for Industrial Facility and Big-Game before joining him. They’re now hunkered down in Brooklyn preparing to launch their first collaborative collection during ICFF in May, under the name Studio Visibility.

  15. 02.15.14
    Saturday Selects
    Week of February 10, 2014

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: sculptures made from deconstructed window blinds and laminate floors, a book on vintage corporate identity design manuals, a series of fake Cuban shop windows (pictured above), and the most excitement we’ve ever experienced over a bar of soap.

  16. 02.11.14
    Eye Candy
    Eskayel’s Jangala collection

    You know those Instagram feeds where it seems like the person is always off on some fantastic holiday in a remote locale? In our feed, that person is Shanan Campanaro, the multitalented artist and designer behind Eskayel. The San Diego native calls Brooklyn home, but in the past year, she’s been to Bali, Belize, Nicaragua, Vail… the list goes on. But in Campanaro’s case, all that travel isn’t necessarily just for fun — it provides inspiration as well for the watercolors that will eventually become bleached, beautiful patterns for her wallpapers and fabrics. Eskayel’s newest collection, which we’re featuring today, is called “Jangala” which means jungle in Sanskrit. The new collection is a bit of a departure from her signature aesthetic, in that some of the colorways are more highly saturated than in the past, but the effect is the same. We love these styled shots Campanaro shared with us, with their overflowing greenery and little totems picked up on travel — not to mention their cute product loans from Rich Brilliant Willing! See more of our favorites after the jum, and then go to Eskayel’s site to view the full collection.

  17. 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.

  18. 01.30.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Constantin Boym at UrbanGlass

    For anyone like us who “grew up,” professionally speaking, in the New York design world in the last few decades, it was always with a sense of awareness of and deference to the scene’s elder statesmen. Constantin and Laurene Boym, for example, set up Boym Partners back in 1986, and by the time we started circulating in 2005, they still felt markedly omnipresent, both critically and physically speaking. We suppose that’s why it felt so surprising when these New York stalwarts up and left town in 2010, after Constantin accepted a two-year tenure as director of graduate design studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. They disappeared from New York design events, parties, exhibitions, and talks, only occasionally sending dispatches to their mailing list about life on the other side of the globe. They returned to New York a year ago, but we hadn’t really heard from them until now — with the launch of Constantin’s new exhibition at Brooklyn’s UrbanGlass, “Learning From the East,” which opens this Saturday.

  19. 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.

  20. 01.13.14
    Eye Candy
    Ryan Lauderdale, Artist

    Ryan Lauderdale is a Brooklyn-based artist who was born in Cushing, Oklahoma, and graduated from Hunter College in 2012 with an MFA in Combined Media. It’s fitting that we discovered him on Pinterest, as his thesis project dealt with the way parts of culture and history get presented, remixed, and diluted online. “What we think of as a tidy and linear historical timeline becomes wholly strange and interconnected when looking at specific visual historical threads such as car design or mall architecture,” he writes in his project description. “We see how hopes and dreams were passed from one source only to be modulated to different aims by another. The Internet, with all of its archiving potential, further establishes this rhizomatic worldview as reality. Nodes of information collide, mix and hybridize. It is here that the potential for new cultural material can grow.” Sight Unseen is the first to debut Lauderdale’s thesis — pictured after the jump — as well as work he’s done since and has yet to post on his portfolio site.

  21. 01.02.14
    At Home With
    Kay Wang, The Things We Keep

    If you only knew Kay Wang through her Instagram — and chances are you might, considering her 33,000 followers — you wouldn’t necessarily immediately know what she does for a living. She could easily be a baker, a stylist, a ceramicist, or a woodworker; in December alone, she posted pictures from her Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, apartment of the frangipane tart she’d baked, the cherry cutting boards she’d sanded and oiled, the canvas bags she’d dyed with onion skin, and the silk cord necklaces she’d strung with hand-carved brass pendants. (And you’d certainly never guess that she spent nine years before moving to Brooklyn as an online marketer in Los Angeles and Seattle.) What she is, very clearly, is a restless creative spirit; so much so that even though her main focus right now is as a jewelry designer who crafts under the moniker The Things We Keep, she has trouble pinning herself with a specific label.

  22. 12.05.13
    Eye Candy
    Behind Flamingo Plaza, by The Perfect Nothing Catalog

    Since it opened in the summer of 2012, Frank Traynor’s Perfect Nothing Catalog — an ice shack–turned-shop that its owner transplanted from upstate New York to Brooklyn — has already relocated twice: from its original home in a Greenpoint garden to the backyard of a gallery in Bushwick, and, very briefly this summer, to a subway platform in Williamsburg. That particular pitstop, set up outside a more permanent subway retail outlet called The Newsstand, was a show called Behind Flamingo Plaza. “It was named after my high-school hangout, an all thrift-store strip mall in Miami — a very formative space for my aesthetic and a vibe I wanted to honor,” explains Traynor.

  23. 11.22.13
    The Making Of
    Material Material, by Doug Johnston & Debbie Carlos

    The practice of two artists collaborating by mail is nothing new; after all, that’s how Peter Shire communicated ideas to his Memphis colleagues back in Milan and how Alex Segreti and Kelly Rakowski of New Friends got their start (with the former in Philly and the latter in New York.) But what happens when you elevate that practice to something more like a parlor game? We here at Sight Unseen had been wondering that ourselves (and an exhibition on that very theme is in the works, fingers crossed!) which is why we were especially tickled when we found out that Debbie Carlos and Doug Johnston — two of our favorites — had recently happened upon the exact same idea. The Michigan-based photographer and the Brooklyn-based designer spent the summer creating a series of objects under the name “Material Material,” for which they shipped each other the raw materials from which they could fashion several objects. The results were recently shown at the San Francisco shop Little Paper Planes. We asked Johnston and Carlos to take us through the project from start to finish.

  24. 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.”

  25. 11.02.13
    Saturday Selects
    Week of October 28, 2013

    In a perfect world, we’d all be spending our Saturdays sleeping in, making brunch, then reading the paper in our pajamas all afternoon. Our smartphones would be switched off, and we wouldn’t open our computers until we were forced to get back to work on Monday morning. But who are we kidding? Days like those come around once in a blue moon, and we’re not exactly Luddites over here anyway — we like spending time online, when it’s for our own enjoyment, anyway. Assuming there are those of you out there who agree — or are just helplessly addicted to your RSS — we’ve decided to start a weekly recap each Saturday in order to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, and events from the past seven or so days. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this on Monday, we salute you. But for everyone else, we hope we can make it worth your while to consider spending a little bit of your downtime with us each weekend, pajamas or no.

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