Tag Archives: handmade

  1. 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.

  2. 12.14.12
    Q+A
    Morgan Peck at Totokaelo

    When Jill Wenger opened the first incarnation of the Seattle store Totokaelo in 2003, she had a few goals: showcasing the work of local designers, improving choices for all-weather gear. But as she grew to be the most fashion-forward resource in the city, she took on the more important mandate of helping to raise Seattle’s style profile in general, banishing annoying sartorial habits like square-toed shoes, embroidery, and pleather handbags. While there’s still work to be done in that arena, this year — with the opening of her massive new store and its “Art—Object” component — Wenger expanded her tastemaking activities beyond the body and into the home. Her stable contains more than a few of our favorite players, from Philip Low to Seattle’s hometown heroes Iacoli & McAllister, but months ago, it was Morgan Peck who really caught our eye. Not only was the ceramicist suddenly showing up on shelves at Iko Iko and Mociun, among others, there was almost no information about her on the web. And so we invited Wenger to take a stab at interviewing the Los Angeles–based talent for our Peer Review column.

  3. 11.30.12
    Q+A
    Milena Silvano on Intelligent Clashing

    Rhiannon Gilmore’s posts on Intelligent Clashing often begin with a tiny nugget of an idea — a pattern, a color, a shape — that after a bit of research flourishes into a loose, visually driven narrative. In her most recent post, though, the nugget wasn’t so much tiny as nearly floor-length: a beautifully draped woven silk poncho trimmed with fringe and edged with reclaimed and antique textiles. The poncho was the creation of Milena Silvano, a UK stylist-turned-slow fashion enthusiast who’s become something of an obsession for Gilmore in recent weeks: “For some time I’d been wondering: Where were the UK designers producing small, slow collections like those coming out of the States? I was thinking along the lines of ERMIE or Wiksten — collections that hold the personalities and the passions of the women who make them and are small enough to feel truly intimate and exclusive, in a warm wholesome way. I’d started to think there just wasn’t anyone working in this way here in the UK, and then I found Milena Silvano.”

  4. 11.27.12
    Shop
    Holiday Update: Four New Necklaces!

    It’s holiday season again! Isn’t that crazy? We feel like it was just yesterday that we were at the beach, burying our toes in the sand. Granted, we’ll be at the beach again next week, when Sight Unseen takes Design Miami, but that doesn’t change how nuts it is that 2013 is already upon us. We didn’t want to leave all you gift-givers hanging, so we commissioned four new necklaces for the Sight Unseen Shop that we think you’ll definitely want stuffed in your stocking: two by designers we’ve worked with before (Tanya Aguiñiga and Iacoli & McAllister) and two by exciting new talents (LA’s Sonya Gallardo and Julianne Ahn of Object & Totem). May your New Year’s resolution be to collect them all.

  5. 11.16.12
    Q+A
    Caroline Achaintre on Arcademi

    The biggest reason why we love our new Peer Review column: because it lets us heap mountains of credit onto blogs like Arcademi — the source of more of our “holy shit” moments than almost any other site — while giving us good reason to borrow their content. Namely, the opportunity to hear their subjects wax poetic about things like hairy tufting and multiple personalities, like today’s subject, Caroline Achaintre. We were lucky enough to convince Arcademi editor Moritz Firchow to interview the London-based artist, who trained as a blacksmith before finding her way to a multidisciplinary practice inspired by the way German expressionism, post-war British sculpture, and Primitivism merge influences from both ancient and modern culture.

  6. 08.30.12
    Up and Coming
    Ian McDonald, Artist and Ceramicist

    To understand what it was like for Ian McDonald growing up in California’s Laguna Beach, it helps to refer back to one of the greatest television dramas of all time. Not, mind you, MTV’s vapid reality show of the same name, but the heart-wrenching high-school football epic Friday Night Lights — McDonald’s hometown being pretty much the diametrical opposite of Dillon, Texas. “Laguna was founded as an artists’ colony,” he says. “Our school mascot, The Artist, ran around with a brush and palette and a beret. Even the football stars took art classes.” In fact, one of McDonald’s earliest run-ins with the medium that would eventually become his life’s work happened when his own sports-star brothers brought their ceramics projects home from school, where their art teacher was a local studio potter. “Most kids would ask their mom for milk money; my older brothers were always asking for clay money,” he recalls. By the time he himself got to high school, he says, “it hit me really hard: This is what I want to do.”

  7. 08.20.12
    Sighted
    Study O Portable’s Neon Alphabet

    Whereas most of us may never fully grasp the meaning behind the testicular descension metaphors and self-referential glyphs woven throughout Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle, the message behind his Drawing Restraint series — which has seen the artist challenge his creation process with obstacle courses and 270-pound dumbbells — couldn’t be more relatable: creativity flourishes in any struggle with limitations. Many designers, for example, profess to do their best work under the pressure of client briefs; then there are those, like the London duo Bernadette Deddens and Tetsuo Mukai of Study O Portable, who in the absence of such briefs will invent their own rules to work around. Since they started their studio in 2009, the couple have been using the alphabet as a testing ground for aesthetic and material experiments, producing letter sets in various combinations of wood, leather, and plastic that must conform to strict, self-imposed standards of size and legibility. “It’s really satisfying to work on the puzzle an ABC poses depending on one’s materials and techniques,” says Deddens. Their most recent is the Neon Alphabet, “a cross between signage, jewelry, and a font” that debuted at Design Miami/Basel this June with Belgian gallerist Caroline van Hoek.

  8. 07.20.12
    Sighted
    Wing Yau of WWAKE on Muse & Maker

    At the beautiful new online journal Muse & Maker, UK-based graphic designer Emily Forgot indulges in some of our favorite pastimes: digging up gems on Etsy, surveying the world’s coolest shops, interviewing makers about their crafts, asking creatives to tell stories about their keepsakes, and spotlighting all manner of amazing handcrafted objects. We RSSed the site the minute we heard about it through our friend Bec Brittain, who was profiled there last month; considering how complementary our tastes are, we knew it was only a matter of time before Forgot turned her attentions to another designer who was near and dear to us. Enter Wing Yau of the jewelry line WWAKE, a RISD grad who approached us for a collaboration this past winter and ended up with two dip-dyed necklaces for sale exclusively in our online shop. Forgot interviewed Yau — whose work we love because of the way it manages to make something as rough and primitive as hand-knotted rope look so modern — about her working habits, her favorite spot in Vancouver, and her childhood immersion in South American crafts. Check out our excerpt of the Muse & Maker interview here, then pick up your own WWAKE necklace in the Sight Unseen shop!

  9. 07.10.12
    Sighted
    Jerpoint Irish Glass for Makers & Brothers

    Anyone who was in New York for our annual Noho Design District event this spring should be familiar with the Irish online homegoods brand Makers & Brothers; they would have been the ones making a beautiful mess on the floor of the Standard East Village hotel, as their woodworker James Wicklow carved stools made from Catskills-grade green ash by hand over the course of four days. But most of what namesake brothers Jonathan and Mark Legge do to showcase their particular brand of native handcrafted goods takes place a bit closer to home — which in their case is a shed located on the same property as their parents’ home and architectural practice in Dublin. Since founding their online retail venture less than a year ago, the two have made a point of visiting and documenting the workspaces of the people who create products for them — the basketweaver who grows her own willow on the banks of the River Boyne, the Irish RCA grad who knits stool covers from a warehouse in East London, and, most recently, a family of glassblowers in Kilkenny whose Jerpoint brand drinking vessels the brothers grew up with. When we wrote Jonathan to ask if we could reprint some of their text and photos on Sight Unseen, he confessed he hopes to collaborate soon with Jerpoint — so perhaps a follow-up story will be in the offing for fall. Until then, if you’re in Dublin, you can pop by the brothers’ shed this weekend for a summer opening. If not, live the Makers & Brothers life vicariously through our excerpt after the jump.

  10. 06.28.12
    The Making Of
    Josh Bitelli’s Forfars Bakery and Roadworkers Projects

    If you’re lucky enough to be visiting next week’s New Designers show in London, which functions like a giant coming-out party for each year’s batch of graduating UK design students, you’re apt to see plenty of examples of projects meant to highlight how things are made. But only for one of them, presumably, will those things be mass-produced bread and highways. For his thesis at Brighton University of Architecture & Design, erstwhile Max Lamb intern Josh Bitelli got to know his local bakers and roadworkers, collaborating with each of them to produce a series of trophies, vases, and furnishings made from the raw materials used by two overlooked, workaday industries. Much like Carly Mayer’s documentation of roof-tile and fireworks factories previously published on Sight Unseen, Bitelli’s investigation into these “integral yet inaccessible” domains, as he puts it, explores the idea that “we have little idea of the inner workings of industrial production, and little or no relation to the people behind the scenes.” Check out the two resulting series in more depth after the jump, including making-of videos and photographs shot by the designer.

  11. 06.22.12
    Q+A
    Ace&Jig on Intelligent Clashing

    You might be a devoted fan of Rhiannon Gilmore’s work without even knowing it; you might even look at it every day. And yet on the off chance that you actually know who she is — the force behind the four-year-old inspiration blog Intelligent Clashing — did you also know that she’s both an artist and a writer? Intelligent Clashing belongs to that universe of curated image blogs that provide a steady stream of visual inspiration for creatives, but whose editors rarely express themselves in words. Rarer still are the moments when we see them exploring their fascination with a certain image by engaging with its maker. In that missing link, we here at Sight Unseen saw an opportunity: Why not give these bloggers a platform for mounting small investigations into subjects that had recently caught their fancy? Every Friday (or so) for our new column Peer Review, we’ll ask the curator of an inspiration blog to pick a recent post from their site and ask the featured artist, or else an expert on the topic at hand, three questions of their choosing. Our first participant is Gilmore herself, who relished the opportunity to interview the New York fashion duo ace&jig, who left behind their role as founders of LaROK to start a label based on hand-woven textiles and vintage influences.

  12. 05.14.12
    Noho Design District
    The Balloon Factory at Japan Premium Beef

    As traditions go, you can’t get much better than the one that will commence this Friday in the window of the tiny Great Jones butcher shop Japan Premium Beef: An annual display of custom meat-themed installations, rendered in various incongruous materials. It started during the 2010 Noho Design District, with the delicate glass sausages that won Fabrica’s Sam Baron a similar commission for T magazine earlier this year. And it will continue for 2012 with a series of inflatable meat balloons — whose prototypes are pictured above — that are being specially created for us by the Chicago designers behind the Balloon Factory project. We asked Caroline Linder, Lisa Smith, Michael Savona, and Steven Haulenbeek for the skinny on their savory new creation, which we invite you to visit this weekend at the Noho Design District.

  13. 03.22.12
    Studio Visit
    Sarah Applebaum, Artist

    It’s not every day that one of our subjects answers the phone by giddily announcing she’s just opened the mail to find the Legend soundtrack she ordered and proclaiming that 1985 Tom Cruise fantasy flick to be her favorite movie. But then San Francisco artist Sarah Applebaum has always tended to march to the beat of her own drum: Paying no mind when her work meanders back and forth between craft and art, she mostly uses dime-store materials like yarn, papier mâché, and felt. Unlike most crafters, she often turns those materials into three-dimensional symbols plucked from her subconscious. And yet unlike most artists, she’s self-taught with a degree in politics, sells her objects at Jonathan Adler and in her own online shop, moonlights as a personal chef, and isn’t at all goal-oriented when it comes to gallery shows. When Applebaum makes things, alone in her home studio in the Lower Haight, it’s above all for making’s sake.

  14. 03.14.12
    Sighted
    Studio Glithero in Icon Magazine

    Though we often travel the world searching for stories and meeting subjects for Sight Unseen, the UK-based design duo Studio Glithero has somehow always eluded us. We were first introduced to their work in 2008, when they created a massive site-specific installation at Milan’s Nilufar Gallery during the annual furniture fair. After traveling through the gallery’s labyrinthine hallways and courtyards, we ended up in an eerie basement space where a series of motorized wicks hung from the ceiling, methodically dipping in and out of metal cans full of hot wax arrayed in a circle on the floor. But the pair was nowhere to be found. That’s why we were particularly excited to find a recent interview with the studio on the British magazine Icon’s website — not only for the article itself, which we’re reposting on Sight Unseen today, but also because it led us to Glithero’s Vimeo channel, where a vast archive of process videos has all the while been hiding in plain sight. The pair have been using film to document their work for years, which makes sense when you realize that they often use time as an integral material to their process.

  15. 03.05.12
    Studio Visit
    Todosomething, Furniture Designers

    Todosomething is a Los Angeles–based design and fabrication studio that specializes in custom furniture and cabinetry with precise, exquisite finishes and subdued color palettes. But in the last few years, as their studio has grown, partners Chad Petersen and Dakota Witzenburg have begun producing their own products as well, which are extensions of their minimal design aesthetic—the ’60s-inflected, powder-coated metal (S)tool, the paint-tipped plywood A(+) Chair, a scorched-pine slab table with spindly steel legs. Between the two practices, which overlap in more than just appearance, they’ve cultivated a reputation as representatives of a certain Modern American style, one influenced by everything from Sol Lewitt to Shaker furniture.

  16. 02.09.12
    Studio Visit
    Correll Correll, Fashion Designers

    You can learn a lot about Daphne and Vera Correll’s clothing line, Correll Correll, just by looking at who they employ: No unpaid interns, for one. When their sunny Chinatown studio is at full production capacity — as it has been in the weeks leading up to their Ecco Domani Award–sponsored Fall/Winter 2012 presentation this Friday — it’s staffed almost entirely by proper assistants. It’s not really fair, Vera reasons, to get by on free labor when the labor itself is what sells the clothes. “They look precious because you can tell we spend a lot of time on them,” she says, pointing to a recent jacket made using one of their signature techniques, where more than 40 different kinds of yarns and vintage fabric strips are woven together into a textile befitting what Vera refers to as a “shepherd from the future.” Each of the jackets takes a day’s work to create, and the sisters can make 30 or 40 such garments in a season. “Our clothes go through so many levels of work, all this sewing and knitting, and people can see that,” she says.

  17. 02.03.12
    Studio Visit
    Emily Counts, Artist

    Portland is a place where, so the saying goes, the ’90s are alive and well. And it may very well be the only place that could have spawned an artist like Emily Counts, who deals with the self-reflective nostalgia of outdated technological innovations once found in her childhood home: dial-up telephones sculpted in porcelain and stoneware, a life-size fax machine, an interactive Mac SE computer made from walnut, casting epoxy, glass, porcelain, copper, and electrical wiring that acts as a two-way mirror after a button is pressed on the keyboard, lighting up the sculpture’s interior. “I’m interested in the mystery of these inventions that we seem to take for granted in our everyday life,” says the 35-year-old Seattle native, who we first spotted on photographer Carlie Armstrong’s blog Work.Place. “For me, there’s a thin line between technology and magic.”

  18. 01.06.12
    The Making Of
    Skin Rugs by Agustina Woodgate, Artist

    Agustina Woodgate is one of those artists whose work is defined by its very resistance to definition: Wooden doormats, inspirational poems secretly sewn to thrift store tags, fairy tale–themed performance pieces — it can be hard to see the thread. That is, until you notice her obsession with bizarre materials. Woodgate once made a chandelier out of 36 yards of defective fishing line, while her Tower series comprises 4.5-foot turrets whose miniature bricks — nearly 3,000 of them — were woven from human hair she collected while offering random pedestrians free haircuts on the streets of Miami. And then there are her Skin Rugs, which she patches together from the hides of used stuffed animals, a kind of distant cousin to the Campana brothers’ Banquete chair. It’s hardly a surprise when Woodgate says she finds inspiration in everything: “I’m just a very curious person,” she says.

  19. 11.10.11
    Shop
    Sight Unseen Goes Retail

    When we started this website two years ago today, we had no idea we’d end up here — debuting a webshop stocked with jewelry and other wearable objects, often designed exclusively for us and frequently one of a kind, all created by some of the most exciting designers and artists we’ve had the pleasure of working with. And yet we couldn’t be more proud of this development. Today we launch the Sight Unseen Shop, an online retail space that’s been months in the making as we worked tirelessly behind the scenes, hashing out the contributors, figuring what amazing wares they’d sell with us, and how it might best be presented online (thanks Studio Lin!). Inspired by the success of our pop-up during this year’s Noho Design District, we set about assembling a group of designers who were using — or interested in using — jewelry as a way to experiment with techniques and materials, and who didn’t necessarily have a platform by which to sell those experiments. While we may be biased, the results, we think, are stunning.

  20. 11.07.11
    How To
    Make a Concrete Bookend, With Chen Chen

    “It’s not like it’s a science,” says Brooklyn designer Chen Chen as he’s mixing up a batch of cement in the Brooklyn studio he shares with collaborator Kai Tsien Williams, attempting to explain why he can’t offer an exact set of measurements for replicating his concrete bookends. They’re fitting words to have chosen, though, coming from him: The Shanghai-born, Wyoming-raised designer had two chemists for parents, and yet it seems like his entire practice has revolved around losing control during the design process rather than maintaining it. Since he joined forces earlier this year with Williams — a fellow Pratt grad who also runs the design fabrication business Three Phase Studio — the pair have spent most of their time together choosing offbeat materials like expanding foam and studio scraps and experimenting for weeks to see what kinds of unexpected effects they can elicit from them.

  21. 10.20.11
    Inventory
    Jo Meesters, Designer

    Old or discarded objects may leave their mark on many a designer’s practice these days, but few so literally as Jo Meesters’s: Peer inside any one of the Pulp vessels or lamps he sculpts from a self-engineered slurry of newspaper and glue, and odds are you’ll see the imprint of whatever busted-up thrift store find he used as its mold. In fact, whatever time Meesters doesn’t spend designing, he tends to spend combing through second-hand shops, searching for abandoned items with intriguing materialities or archetypal forms. “When I’m developing new products, they’re always the forms I come back to, because they’re recognizable for most people,” says the Philippines-born, Eindhoven-based talent. Once he co-opts those historical influences into one of his own objects, “it becomes this weird sensation; you’ve never seen it before, and yet you can also relate it.”

  22. 09.26.11
    Q+A
    Faye Toogood on Assemblage 3, for Phillips de Pury

    When we — and the rest of the design world — were first introduced to her at the 2009 London Design Festival, Faye Toogood already seemed like Superwoman: Having just left her post as a stylist at the UK shelter magazine World of Interiors and cast out on her own, she’d engineered a coming-out party for herself that included a collaborative installation with Gallery Fumi featuring designs made from corn, a Memphis-inspired playroom with an Arabeschi di Latte egg bar, and a temporary shop for Tom Dixon that showcased how she’d begun to transform his brand image. Just seeing her do it was enough to make us feel stressed, and that was before we knew that she was about to reinvent herself again, this time as a furniture designer. Her first collection, Assemblage 1, was inspired by modernist sculpture, British craftsmanship, and her childhood growing up in the English countryside; it gave way to Assemblage 2 in Milan earlier this year, which took a darker, edgier turn. Finally, with Phillips de Pury last week, Toogood unveiled the third chapter in the series, and the most ambitious to date — it’s based around her fascination with iridescence, and it took a motorcycle fabricator, a gun maker, and a studio full of assistants in gas masks to complete. I was asked by Phillips to conduct an in-depth interview with Toogood to appear in the show’s catalog, and so Sight Unseen received special permission to reprint that interview here. It’s lengthy, but it offers a good deal of insight into the mind of one of the most intriguing and ambitious personalities working in design right now.

  23. 08.25.11
    8 Things
    Jade Lai, Owner, Creatures of Comfort

    If you ever have the privilege of chatting up Jade Lai, who owns the bicoastal cult fashion emporium Creatures of Comfort, don’t be surprised if she tells you that, after returning from a trip to Morocco last year with no less than 15 carpets in tow, she was struck by the notion that she could totally see herself in the rug business. And when this is followed by the revelation that she’s looking to expand the Creatures of Comfort brand to encompass food, or that she’s been taking pottery classes, or that she hopes to run a bed and breakfast sometime soon, resist the urge to raise an eyebrow — these may sound like the ramblings of a dilettante, but make no mistake, Lai is both hyper-creative and legitimately driven. Consider, for example, the year she spent working as a product developer for Esprit in her native Hong Kong: She took the job after having graduated with an architecture degree, freelanced as a graphic designer, and started her own stationery line in L.A., but proceeded to become so good at it that she could eventually identify a fabric’s contents by touch alone — a useful skill for someone who now designs Creatures of Comfort’s in-house fashion line, and one that would certainly come in handy for any aspiring carpet slinger.

  24. 07.27.11
    Sighted
    Kings County Distillery on The Makers Project

    On occasion, the editors of Sight Unseen spot a story about creativity told from a viewpoint that’s not unlike our own. In the past year, we’ve noticed that documenting the studio interiors of people who spend their workdays making things has become a bit of a cottage industry on the web. We’ve found photographers who capture the creative life in Portland, those who seek out the printmakers, illustrators, and painters of Minneapolis, and our most recent obsession, Brooklyn-based photographer Jennifer Causey, whose online photo project The Makers chronicles the interior spaces of local fashion designers, florists, perfumers, jewelers, and food producers. Causey’s project caught our eye because it features so many of the practitioners we’ve talked about covering on Sight Unseen, and it does so with such a similar eye for small details that it seemed a shame not to highlight her work. We’re excerpting here Causey’s feature on Kings County Distillery, a homegrown moonshine producer that’s been run out of an East Williamsburg studio since early last year.

  25. 07.21.11
    What They Bought
    Nina Garduno of Free City

    To a certain kind of customer, it makes sense to drop half a grand on a Proenza Schouler necklace made from climbing rope or a hundred bucks on a T-shirt by Comme des Garçons: You’re paying for the craftsmanship of a couture brand and you’re buying the cachet of a label that normally retails for several times those amounts. But what of a sweatshirt — created by someone with no design training, no seasonal runway presentation, and no global retail empire — that sells for $198? That’s the conundrum that faced former Ron Herman buyer Nina Garduno when she started Free City more than a decade ago. By this point, of course, the brand has achieved cult status in Los Angeles, fueled by years of tabloid photographs showing celebrities in Free City sweatpants filling up at the pump, but price remains a sticking point even as Garduno has traded her store in a Malibu strip mall for a 3,000-square-foot Hollywood emporium she calls the Supershop Supermät. “A lot of people complain,” she says. “And yeah, it’s expensive. It costs a lot and takes a lot longer to make things the way we do, with 20 artists in our workshop and everything made here. People say they don’t want to buy things in China, and yet they love the China prices. For me, it’s worth going the distance and trying to make things that are more meaningful.”

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