Tag Archives: handmade

  1. 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.”

  2. 04.08.14
    Eye Candy
    John Hogan, Glass Artist

    It goes without saying that not every artist who grows up in Toledo, Ohio, famed birthplace of the American studio glass movement, ends up dedicating their life’s work to that medium. But for John Hogan, that’s exactly what happened — he started experimenting with glass at a young age and, even after relocating to Seattle a few years back, hasn’t stopped since. His personal work, which spans functional objects and sculpture, focuses on the optical qualities of glass; its simple beauty has endeared him to local collaborators like designers Erich Ginder and Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, the latter of whom he’ll be exhibiting with at Sight Unseen OFFSITE this May.

  3. 03.19.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Renate Müller at R & Company

    Renate Müller is 68 years old and has been designing children’s toys for half a century, some of which she created for her family’s toy factory in Sonneberg, Germany, in the ’60s and ’70s, and the rest of which she still makes by hand in her nearby studio, as part of the personal line she began in 1978. The materials she uses for that line have stayed exactly the same ever since (jute, wood, leather), as has her process and her policy of working alone, save for the occasional hand lent by her daughter. Many of her animal typologies have remained perennial, too. Yet when it came time to create 26 new pieces for her second solo show at New York design gallery R & Company, which opened yesterday, Müller decided to bust out a pretty major — and amusing — twist: Surrealist creatures with two heads, or no heads, that only someone with a very vivid, childlike sense of imagination could possibly dream up.

  4. 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.

  5. 03.03.14
    Q+A
    Nicole Patel on Her Textile Wall Panels

    When we first met the multi-talented Nicole and Sweetu Patel back in 2004, they were running Brooklyn’s Citizen Citizen, a high-concept British design showroom that sold objects like crucifix-shaped brushes by FredriksonStallard. But they gave up the project shortly afterward, and have continued to evolve creatively in the last decade: Nicole went on to focus on her interior design business and form a creative partnership with curator Josee Lepage, while Sweetu went on to work for Cappellini and later founded the men’s heritage clothing shop C.H.C.M. It was there that we recently spotted Nicole’s latest brilliant endeavor, a series of wall panels that she makes from the likes of Japanese indigo textiles and Belgian linen, meticulously stretched and then embellished with things like handmade rope or tone-on-tone embroidery. Beyond hanging them in her husband’s store, she hadn’t yet put them out in the world, so we decided to do the honors.

  6. 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.

  7. 01.23.14
    Eye Candy
    Sevak Zargarian, Ceramicist

    Sevak Zargarian is a London-based graduate of the Central Saint Martins undergrad course in Ceramics, for which his final project was the series of Grogged Vases pictured in the first half of this post. To make them, Zargarian first creates his own “grog” — broken-up scraps of stained and fired clay normally mixed into pottery to invisibly prevent kiln shrinkage — then makes a plaster bowl mold, which he dips into a bucket of grog-filled slip in a reverse-casting process. His Grogged Jars, below, use smaller grog bits and conventional plaster molds. Zargarian focuses on process- and materials-driven experimentation based around the tactile qualities of clay, yet rather than only celebrating the hand-made element of his work, he’s more interested in how he might someday apply his studio discoveries to industrial production.

  8. 11.13.13
    Eye Candy
    Diario Textiles by Moisés Hernández

    Apart from being a member of one of our favorite new design collectives — the Mexico City–based group Panorámica, whom we discovered at ICFF this past May — Moisés Hernández also runs a housewares brand called Diario that searches out and redesigns everyday Mexican objects. He started the project last year as part of his masters project at ECAL in Switzerland, and after returning to his hometown, continued it with this new line of colorful tabletop textiles manufactured by a family-run workshop in Oaxaca, all documented after the jump.

  9. 11.04.13
    Factory Tour
    Mykita’s Berlin Headquarters

    Just a few blocks from the three-story factory where Mykita eyeglasses are designed, prototyped, and assembled by hand by a team of skilled workers, there’s a world-renowned contemporary art museum currently showing works inspired by Joseph Beuys’s vision of the future. There’s a new bar where fancy hipsters go to sip $15 Moscow mules, and more than a few new “luxury” condo buildings, which have begun sprouting like weeds in the area in the past five years. That’s about when Mykita moved its headquarters to their current location in the middle of Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood, which is basically the New York equivalent of setting up shop in Soho. It doesn’t actually manufacture from scratch there the metal and acrylic frames that are its signature — the parts are sent up in flat batches from South Germany — but it does just about everything else that’s required to construct and ship out between 600 and 1,000 pairs of glasses per day to the likes of Colette and Opening Ceremony. “It’s a business philosophy for Mykita that everything is under one roof,” says Lisa Thamm, head of Mykita PR, who gave us a tour of the factory this past June. “It’s actually easier that way, especially when your graphics team, your designers, everybody is really into detail.”

  10. 10.24.13
    Studio Visit
    Heidi Norton, Artist

    “Being a photographer and being an artist working with materials like resin, plants, and glass — those two worlds should not really mix,” says Heidi Norton. “You have the camera and you have film and you’re trying to keep things clean and archival, and then you have dirt and glass shards everywhere.” Such contradictions are at the core of Norton’s work, from the immaculate glow of her photography to the dirt-under-your-fingernails feel of her sculptural pieces, which typically feature houseplants in some form or another. Norton started incorporating plants into her photographic practice several years ago in a series of still lifes. It was partly a way to bring the natural world she grew up with, in rural West Virginia, into the urban setting of Chicago, where she’s lived since getting her MFA at the School of the Art Institute in 2002. Those photos eventually inspired her to make plant-based sculptures that explore how we create, cultivate, and change ourselves. Therein lies the central paradox: “The idea of preservation, and trying to save the plant while at the same time killing it through that preservation, became really interesting to me,” she says. “All of the mediums I use deal with that idea in different ways.” Even her studio itself, shot by Debbie Carlos for part two of Sight Unseen’s series on Chicago artists, is part of the process.

  11. 10.08.13
    Sighted
    Q+A With Shabd on Martha Stewart Living

    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.

  12. 10.07.13
    Shop
    Seven New Items for Fall!

    When we launched the Sight Unseen shop just under two years ago, we decided to focus exclusively on jewelry and wearables, which are relatively easy for designers to fabricate — and experiment on — and easier still for us to ship. If we’ve strayed from that formula, introducing our first handful of small housewares last summer and going full-tilt this week with our heaviest item yet, a pair of marble and steel bookends that should have the USPS grinning, well, can you blame us? We couldn’t pass up the chance to offer our readers a first exclusive on the bookends, handcrafted by Philly designer Brendan Timmins and not yet sold anywhere else, or Eric Trine’s steel pyramid shown above, however impractical. They’re joined by a brand new series of painted Baggu pouches, climbing rope necklaces by two Icelandic sisters, a brass bottle opener masquerading as an objet d’art, new geometric wind chimes by Ladies & Gentlemen studio, and last but not least, the return of the official Sight Unseen t-shirt. Check them all out after the jump.

  13. 08.05.13
    Studio Visit
    Christy Matson, textiles artist

    In the parallel universe of false starts, where every cabinet is filled with tools you’ll never use again and every heart with ideas that didn’t stick, artist Christy Matson is a welcome presence, a reminder that sometimes lost things have a way of finding you again. Matson bought her first loom before she’d ever woven, certain that she would take immediately to the repetition and logic of it: “I was, like, I’m going to love weaving, I just know it! I had never met a textile-related process I didn’t like,” Matson says. “And then I took a weaving class the next semester and hated it. I thought, this is it? This is boring.”

  14. 07.26.13
    Up and Coming
    Katie Stout, Furniture Designer

    What were you doing at age 24? Muddling through grad school? Working as a CAD monkey? Moving back in with your parents? If so, you might be more than a little jealous of recent RISD grad Katie Stout, who at that tender age already holds the post of gallery director at New York’s Johnson Trading Gallery, where Paul Johnson not only represents her work but encourages her to introduce him to that of her peers (like Noho Next alum and future SU subject Misha Kahn, for example). Before she landed the job, Stout’s only previous employment was a one-summer college internship for the novelty housewares brand Fred and Friends: “I showed the creative director my portfolio, and when he saw a table I’d made as a sophomore that was an udder with milk squirting out of its teats, he asked me what I was on,” she recalls. “Obviously I said nothing.”

  15. 07.23.13
    The Making Of
    TT and M by Thing Thing and Michael Savona

    Creative collaborations can go one of two ways: Either it’s obvious where one person’s influence begins and the other’s ends, or it isn’t. You get a minotaur, or you get a liger. When the quirky plastics researchers at Thing Thing teamed up with the graphic designer Michael Savona for a recent joint project, the result was pretty much the former — typography come to life, in the form of recycled-plastic stools handmade with l0-fi fabrication techniques developed by Thing Thing. We first caught sight of the series at the Chicagoland exhibition at Wanted Design this past May, where we chatted with Savona about it; we figured there must be a pretty interesting story behind how the pieces were made, and we were right!

  16. 07.19.13
    Eye Candy
    Lukas Dahlén, Furniture Designer

    Lukas Dahlén’s furniture designs are soft, calming and quiet. He offers a wide range of products from seating to lighting, each piece handcrafted to soothing perfection. Most impressive is a product titled ‘Weave’, an ash wood cupboard with a woven wood facade. It’s striking, very contemporary Shaker. Dahlén writes, “[Weave is] Inspired by the most common kind of wood and weed weaving the Weave cupboard represents an enlarged version of the technique of weaving something soft around a more stable structure.” He lives and works in Sweden.

  17. 06.14.13
    Eye Candy
    Cody Hoyt, Artist

    Cody Hoyt skillfully blends the natural hues of clay to create contemporary motifs, forming the earth material into angular shaped vessels. A perfect home for a succulent plant. Marbled, dotted, wave-y stripes flow over the vases sharp-cornered edges. Hoyt’s ceramic beauties are made by hand in his Brooklyn studio.

  18. 05.22.13
    Eye Candy
    Louie Rigano, Designer

    Louie Rigano sparkles and crafts an expansive range of wares from Glittering Urns to Rain Boots. His ability to jump from constructing handsomely made tables to wobbly, leather martini vessels is surprising and impressive. Rigano lives and works in NYC.

  19. 04.29.13
    Noho Design District
    Sign Up For Designer Master Classes at the Bowery Hotel

    During this year’s 2013 Noho Design District, Sight Unseen is hosting a day of designer master classes on May 17 at New York’s Bowery Hotel. In each workshop, participants will learn a fun process or technique from one of our favorite up-and-coming New York designers — Fredericks & Mae, Noah Spencer of Fort Makers, or Chen Chen and Kai Williams (pictured) — then enjoy a period of guided experimentation before walking away with their own handmade objects. Classes are 75-90 minutes long, cost $50 per person, and each is limited to 20 participants, so read the class descriptions after the jump, or click here to sign up now!

  20. 04.11.13
    Eye Candy
    Samantha Bittman, Artist

    Samantha Bittman’s optical works pulsate in and out, up and down with lines and shapes. They pull you in, spin you out. Bittman’s latest works are hand woven textiles, tediously executed patterns that create the illusion of dimension. She enhances and re-interrupts the weavings by applying acrylic paint to the maze-like works. Totally mesmerizing.

  21. 03.01.13
    Eye Candy
    Building Block + Waka Waka at Iko Iko

    A star power trio of Sight Unseen favorites come together as one: Iko Iko presents the collaboration of handbag designers Building Block and furniture makers Waka Waka, who have united to produce a limited edition of custom-order bags and more. Together they explore “how time and use can bring a new personality to the things we wear.”

  22. 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.

  23. 01.28.13
    Sighted
    New Places Necklaces by Karin Johansson

    Don’t get your hopes up — you won’t find Karin Johansson’s necklaces in the Sight Unseen shop anytime soon, or at any other shop for that matter. Johansson isn’t a fashion designer, after all, but a Sweden-based jewelry artist who’s spent nearly two decades learning and refining her metalworking techniques, and her pieces are only available through high-end galleries like Barcelona’s Klimt02. That’s where we spotted the New Places collection, a colorfully graphic amalgam of handmade elements in enamel, plastic, and precious metals, plus crushed and “reconstructed” stone; Johansson based each necklace on a different photograph she’d taken while traveling inside her own city and beyond. “The inspiration and the starting point for New Places were photos I’d collected for a few years of different views, landscapes, and cities,” Johansson explains. “Simply by drawing a line in the picture and connecting the ends, then picking up the colors, I discovered a necklace giving hints of houses, streets, trees, water, sky, lines, and directions.”

  24. 01.22.13
    What They Bought
    Mociun, Brooklyn

    Caitlin Mociun may have been the author of a cult-hit fashion line for only a few years, but the lessons she learned from that stint — about the way she wants a customer to feel, or about the way a body moves in space — inform nearly everything she does today. That first becomes clear when she talks about her massively successful fine jewelry line, which she launched almost as a palliative to her days as a clothing designer. “I never really liked doing my clothing line, and when I switched to jewelry it was such a different response,” Mociun told me earlier this fall when I visited her year-old Williamsburg boutique. “It seemed to make people feel good about themselves as opposed to clothing, which often makes people feel bad.” But it’s when she talks about her boutique that you realize that nothing in the shop could be the way it is if Mociun weren’t first a designer.

  25. 01.15.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Das Wilde Denken: Depot Basel in Berlin

    There’s an easy way to tell whether or not you were born to be a maker: sit down at a table piled with random junk and scraps of material, and see how long it takes you to conjure something useful and/or beautiful. For the Das Wilde Denken workshop last month, Matylda Krzykowski and the team behind Depot Basel joined forces with my favorite design/fashion boutique in Berlin, Baerck, and invited a handful of local designers to spend two days doing just that. The results, of course, were amazing — where an observer like myself couldn’t really make the mental leap past a jumble of discarded trolley wheels and wooden boards, this group envisioned lamps, sculptural table mirrors, jewelry trays, and stationery sets. The curators saw it as a chance for the designers to get back to basics and enjoy the simplicity of an open-ended crafting session, but they also likened the experience to reconnecting with childhood, when making wasn’t goal-oriented but immediate and spontaneous — hence the name Das Wilde Denken, which means “wild thinking.” (Momentary flashback to Malin Gabriela Nordin’s children’s workshop, which we featured last month.) All of the pieces created during the session, a selection of which are featured in the slideshow after the jump, will be on view and for sale at Baerck through February 2.

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