Tag Archives: materials

  1. 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.

  2. 03.07.14
    Eye Candy
    Mel Nguyen’s Desktop Deposits Series

    Earlier today we posted a studio visit with the young Minneapolis artist Mel Nguyen, shot by photographer Debbie Carlos. But it only featured a small selection of Nguyen’s work, in which each project is typically disassembled and morphed into three more. “If you look at a single project of mine and only associate me with that project, it will be not a complete representation of my practice,” Nguyen says. We figured it was worth showing you one more example from her portfolio: her recent clay Desktop Deposits series, made for the Kansas City, Missouri, project Objet Boutique curated by Dean Roper.

  3. 03.07.14
    Studio Visit
    Mel Nguyen, Artist

    As an artistically inclined teenager feeling bored and marooned in the suburb of Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, Mel Nguyen did what any millenial in her situation would do: She turned to the internet for creative stimulation. “Even as a high schooler I was looking at all these graphic design blogs, seeing how the field was changing, and thinking, wow,” she says. As soon as she enrolled as an art student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she started her own tumblr, showing off her experiments sliding from 2-D into to 3-D and back again. She managed to build such a following on the site that her work went viral in certain online art and design circles — so much so that it’s hard to believe she’s only 21, and won’t graduate until this spring.

  4. 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.

  5. 02.28.14
    Eye Candy
    Equilibrio Frágil y Simétrico by Cristian Montesinos

    For his ongoing series of miniature totems, Barcelona-based graphic and furniture designer Cristian Montesinos collects and paints scraps of found wood, which he keeps on hand for the assembly and photographing of each piece. “Biking or walking in Barcelona I always find what I need,” he says. “I keep the pieces, classified by size, and use them when I need them. When I work with these woods, I feel I’m returning to them a part of the dignity that was lost when they were thrown away. When I paint them I try not to completely cover the material, as part of the idea is to show and appreciate the tangible past of the object.”

  6. 02.27.14
    Sighted
    Last, a New Swedish Design Trio

    No pun intended, but we had to share one last find from this month’s Stockholm Design Week: Last, a new arena for selling one-of-a-kind products by Swedish design trio Åsa Jungnelius, Gustaf Nordenskiöld, and Fredrik Paulsen. They are, respectively, a glass designer working with glass, a potter with clay and a furniture designer with wood. All share a common desire for not only producing sustainable products, but also to promote a kind of design that is slower, more considered, and intended to stand the test of time (i.e. the last spoon you might ever buy).

  7. 02.21.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Cray Collective at Stockholm Design Week

    You can sometimes guess at the greatness of an exhibition based purely on its location (a little off-the-beaten track, naturally), or when its roster lists nothing short of five talented up-and-coming designers. With that in mind, it seemed only right to plow the bitter, wintry streets of Stockholm earlier this month to find out more about the new, colorful Cray Collective.

  8. 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.

  9. 02.05.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Ornsbergsauktionen 2014

    If you’re a longtime reader of our site, you might remember that February, despite being utterly gross in the weather department, is one of our favorite months if only for the Ornsbergsauktionen, an artist-run auction house that’s taken place during each of the past three Stockholm Design Weeks. Started by Fredrik Paulsen, Simon Klenell, and Kristoffer Sundin, the auction gathers together limited editions and one-offs from designers we already know and love — Katja Pettersson, Uglycute, Silo Studio, Hilda Hillström — and always introduces us to a handful we can’t wait to Google. This year, in addition to furniture and objects, the three also managed to wrangle works on paper from the Memphis Group’s still-prolific Peter Shire and Nathalie du Pasquier. We’ve included a selection of our favorites below, but for the full catalogue, visit the (gorgeously designed) catalog website or see the objects in person if you’re in Stockholm, on view through Friday!

  10. 02.05.14
    Sighted
    Assembly’s 2x Aluminum Mirror

    As journalists, it’s basically our job to be professional busybodies, so there’s almost nothing that gives us a bigger thrill than when designers offer us a sneak peek at what they’re working on next. This week, those designers were the unfailingly prolific Pete Oyler and Nora Mattingly of Brooklyn-based Assembly, whose work we’ve featured extensively on the site. Their brand new piece is the 2x Aluminum Mirror, which is crafted from a solid sheet of 1/4-inch aluminum that’s been finished with two different techniques in order to create both reflective and opaque effects on the same surface. Says Oyler, “It’s part of a broader collection of work, to be released at ICFF in NYC this May, that bridges highly skilled hand and machine processes to explore extremes, subtleties, and possible outcomes within common materials.” Of course we decided to snoop around a little more and asked Oyler to tell us a bit more about it.

  11. 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.

  12. 01.24.14
    Up and Coming
    Natalie Herrera of High Gloss Ceramics

    If you want to get a sense of exactly how new to the scene Natalie Herrera is — well, she just launched her online shop last night. It’s not that she’s a newly minted graduate — Herrera got a BFA from RISD in 2009, after all — it’s only that it took her this long to figure out she was really, really good at ceramics. A glimpse at her work can immediately tell you why: When you look at her forms, which have more rigorous lines than your usual wheel-thrown vessels, as well as hand-built surface decoration in the form of shapes and squiggles, it comes as no surprise that what she was doing before she stumbled into ceramics was graphic design.

  13. 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.

  14. 01.22.14
    Q+A
    Henny Nistelrooy on I’m Revolting

    Like so many small-town kids before him, Henny van Nistelrooy didn’t move to just any city. He moved to the most tightly layered and epochally dense cities he could find, the sorts of places that have already had a dozen lifetimes. After graduating from London’s Royal College of Art, Van Nistelrooy launched his design studio in London in 2008 and then moved to Beijing, another capital with more than a bit of historical fiber. They’re fitting locales for Van Nistelrooy’s textile process of taking seemingly finished material and slowly unraveling the threads for an entirely new weave.

  15. 01.21.14
    The Making Of
    The Stacks Series by Clemens Kois

    Not everyone would spot the potential magic in a cluster of their children’s medicine bottles, or in utilitarian household items like batteries, lightbulbs, and binder clips. But before he began constructing and shooting teetering towers of such trifles, photographer Clemens Kois had plenty of practice: as a longtime flea market enthusiast and avid collector — of Carl Aübock designs, among many others — he had spent decades perceiving a heightened level of beauty and value in objects others might overlook. Each image in his ongoing Stacks series always begins with a few such things he’s harvested from somewhere in his New York apartment, which he builds into a delicately balanced vertical composition, like arranging the notes in a song.

  16. 01.17.14
    Eye Candy
    Union of Striped Yarns by Dienke Dekker

    People always ask us which design fair is on our can’t-miss list, and though we’ve never been able to make it there ourselves, we’re inclined at this point to say Dutch Design Week. The work on show there is consistently kind of epic, with future design superstars springing almost fully formed each year from the Design Academy Eindhoven (see Formafantasma, Julien Carretero, and Nacho Carbonell, to name a few). Next on that list might be Dienke Dekker, a 2012 graduate whose material explorations we’re featuring today. For her project the Union of Striped Yarns, which debuted at last year’s DDW, Dekker used a variety of yarns — hand-dyed, industrial-printed and even non-traditional “threads” like caution tape — to explore striped patterning in textiles. Different colored and white spaces, combined with a variety of weaving methods, created the gorgeous effects on view here.

  17. 01.16.14
    Q+A
    Dario Buzzini and Barbara Busatta on Machine Series

    For all the excitement around the game-changing rise of rapid prototyping, it’s always felt a little abstract to us — mostly limited to actual prototyping, MakerBot-style tinkering, and a few crazy, high-end projects meant above all to flaunt the capabilities of the technology. Yet with the launch of Machine Series, a new brand of housewares made using fused deposition modeling (FDM), co-founders Dario Buzzini and Barbara Busatta are attempting to make a case for the potential of 3-D printing to create a commercially viable line of attractive and functional everyday objects. “The focus of this exploration has been to elevate 3-D printing, a technology that is very much talked about but is relegated to either cumbersome, amateurish results or over-expensive artistic applications,” write the Italian-born, New York–based pair in the brand’s press release. “We believe that by exploring the full potential of FDM, we are able to create items that are as simple as they are sophisticated and as elegant as they are innovative.” The designs are also fully open-source, so all the files used to produce them are available online. Buzzini and Busatta took some time to tell us more about the project, after the jump.

  18. 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.

  19. 12.20.13
    Excerpt: Book
    Dixonary

    If we had to elect the most Sight Unseen–like book ever published, Tom Dixon’s Dixonary might land at the very top of that list. In the intro he writes, “A book about me? I wasn’t sure I needed one — at least until I am dead, at which point people can write what they like.” But personally we wish this kind of book existed for all of our favorite visual artists. In it, Dixon pairs photographs of his own designs, dating all the way back to his early-’80s punk days, with the images that inspired them, and then tells the micro-stories behind each one. There are obvious pairings (Dixon’s Lustre lights with an oil spill, for example) and those that are more obscure (his 1994 Jack Light with concrete sea defenses from Yakushima Island, Japan). The book fleshes out the more well-known contours of Dixon’s story. For instance, we knew he was a welder, but did we imagine that meant he spent time in the early ’80s making chairs out of things like frying pans and ladles? Those early experiments — so far from the more polished work Dixon creates under his own label these days — are one of the most fascinating aspects of the book, so we’ve excerpted a few of our favorites after the jump.

  20. 12.19.13
    Eye Candy
    Sunglasses by Joséphine Choquet & Virgile Thévoz

    We’re planning a bigger story on up-and-coming designer Joséphine Choquet in the new year, but before then, we wanted to share with you some work the French-born designer recently sent us: these gorgeously styled shots of the Luns sunglasses she created earlier this year in collaboration with fellow ECAL master’s grad Virgile Thévoz. “The sunglasses use classic as well as more witty acetate patterns, as a tribute to this material, which carries on the essence of vintage and kitsch yet remains utterly contemporary,” the designers write. There are 10 different models at the moment, in search of a producer, with a second collection already in the works for 2014.

  21. 12.18.13
    Up and Coming
    Lola Lely, furniture designer

    Lola Lely was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, but, having moved to London when she was only five, the rising design star can claim native east Londoner status — a rare feat in the area’s bustling international design scene. Her interest in making dates back nearly as far; her mother, a seamstress, was always “knitting or crocheting, making clothes or coasters.” Her Foundation tutor, ceramicist Bo Davies, guided Lely down the path to product design, to satisfy her interest in various disciplines and materials. But now that she’s there, she says, “none of my projects seem to have an end point. I like restlessness, when I don’t know where something is going. It’s a little bit serendipitous.”

  22. 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.

  23. 11.20.13
    Studio Visit
    Adi Goodrich, Set Designer

    Instead of making things as a way to survive obsolescence, the physical remainders that will outlast us all, Adi Goodrich’s work lives for only a few days before being broken back down into pieces. “I’m not really into all that ego of trying make stuff that stays forever,” the Los Angeles-based designer admits. “I’m much more interested in the cycle of creativity, in making things happen, and surrounding myself with everyone who wants to come with.” Which means that Goodrich, who was just honored with an Art Directors Club “Young Guns” award, might have willed herself into a perfect job: set design.

  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. 11.14.13
    Up and Coming
    Knauf & Brown, furniture designers

    Formafantasma, Ladies & Gentlemen, Rich Brilliant Willing: The list of design partnerships that began in art school is pretty endless. But rare is the pair who knew and liked each other enough to not only register at the same university at the same time but also to enroll in all of the same classes, “to keep each other on our toes.” That’s Calen Knauf and Conrad Brown of the emerging Vancouver-based design studio Knauf & Brown talking; the two met through skateboarding more than a decade ago. Brown was a photographer and Knauf a graphic designer, and once they graduated from their industrial design program at Emily Carr, the natural thing to do was to go into business together. “It’s a good partnership,” they say, “because we both have different strengths, but fairly similar aesthetics.” What exactly defines that aesthetic is still a bit up in the air, considering that the two graduated only last year. But what’s emerged so far has shown an emphasis on simple and honest natural materials, like ash and marble, as well as a healthy sense of humor that occasionally surfaces in the form of performance art. For “despite how much of our lives we dedicate to design and our studio, we still place a high priority on having as much fun as possible,” they say. “We both still skateboard, and regularly get up to no good.” Read on for a deeper look into their brand-new practice.

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