Tag Archives: materials

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.”

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.”

  9. 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.

  10. 11.12.13
    Shop
    Four New Items for the Holidays!

    If homemade gifts are supposedly the best kind, we happen to think that beautiful objects hand-crafted in small batches by artists and designers are easily the next best thing, especially if you have less than full confidence in your crafting skills (or lack thereof). Of course, you could also simply go out and buy your girlfriend that Vitamix she’s been obsessing over, but where’s the fun in that if she could just as easily go out and buy it herself? A gift from the Sight Unseen Shop strikes the perfect balance, proving you’re thoughtful and resourceful, and that you understand what makes the person you’re giving it to so unique. Not that we wouldn’t also mind a Vitamix for the holidays — ahem — but you know what we’re getting at here! Check out the latest additions to our shop after the jump, which make for great gifts in any price range.

  11. 11.09.13
    Saturday Selects
    Week of November 4, 2013

    A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, events, and more from the past seven or so days. This week: A more economical marbled side table, a magazine-turned-shop, a polka-dot infinity room, and more.

  12. 11.01.13
    Self Portrait
    Sebastian Herkner’s Pulpo Containers

    You might not recognize it at first glance, but Sebastian Herkner’s new ultra-shiny glass Containers for the German brand Pulpo have a serious high-low thing going on — and not just in one sense, but two. Not only are they inspired by the cheap plastic containers normally used to store things like distilled water and Cheez-Balls, they’re also made using a technique that’s gone from rags to riches in recent history. “Mercury glass was once used as a substitute for real silverware, which was too expensive for poor people to afford,” says Herkner. “Nowadays, though, it’s thought of as unique and rare; there’s one company in Czech Republic which specializes in mercury glass, and Pulpo produces the Containers there.” Like most of our favorite tastemakers, Herkner’s appreciation of both the lowly and the luxurious extends to his personal style, too, which is why we thought it fitting that he should photograph his Containers for us amidst the landscape of his own home, just outside Frankfurt. He told us more about his process and his possessions below.

  13. 10.31.13
    Sight Unseen Presents
    The Sight Unseen x Snarkitecture Pumpkin-Carving Contest

    When we decided a few weeks ago to host a good old-fashioned pumpkin-carving contest with our friends at Snarkitecture — and to invite more than a dozen of our favorite architects and designers to compete — we figured there would be lots of intricate, hand-drawn patterns (there were, courtesy of Daniel Horowitz’s pumpkin in the form of a brain). We knew at least one group would employ meticulous typography (ditto, thanks to Benjamin Critton Art Dept.) What we didn’t guess — perhaps naively, in hindsight — was that the designers would come armed with such an array of power tools, Japanese machetes, kitchen electrics, Arduino-coded LEDs, drywall screws, and the like. As a result, what unfolded last night at Snarkitecture’s Greenpoint studios was nothing short of amazing. Here’s what went down.

  14. 10.24.13
    Up and Coming
    Misha Kahn, furniture designer

    The first time we met Misha Kahn, he was slapping gold metallic wallpaper with long-lashed googly eyes onto the walls of a tiny room we’d afforded four RISD students at our 2011 Noho Design District showcase. We were never sure quite what to make of the wallpaper — was it technically even “furniture design,” or was it more a piece of Surrealist art? — but we knew from first sight that we loved it. Which is pretty much how we’ve felt about all of the work that’s followed from the Brooklyn-based, Duluth, Minnesota–born designer’s studio, whether it’s a pink bench made from layers of resin and trash, a series of tables that resemble Froebel blocks on acid, or sewn cement pieces that look like the work of a woozy Jeff Koons.

  15. 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.

  16. 10.23.13
    Studio Visit
    Stephen Eichhorn, Artist

    As a four-year-old living in Lenoir, South Carolina, Stephen Eichhorn refused to learn how to read. While everyone else in his class was singing their ABCs, he’d stubbornly deemed it unnecessary — he already knew he was destined to be an artist, communicating through images rather than words. “People asked me, how are you going to read your show cards or write press releases?” Eichhorn recalls. “My answer was, I’m going to marry someone who knows how to read! The resistance was so heavy they put me in a special ed class.” His protest didn’t last more than a few months, luckily, but his uncanny commitment to his future career did: At 14, for example, he interned for a group of Star Wars toymakers who taught him freehand drafting and craft techniques, and at 17 he attended a summer art program at SAIC before enrolling there a year later. Since graduating in 2006 he’s been living the dream instead of planning for it, working independently from a studio he shares with his wife in Chicago, which is where SU’s newest contributor Debbie Carlos visited him this past spring for our two-part series on Windy City artists.

  17. 10.22.13
    The Making Of
    Lena Corwin’s Made By Hand

    The sense that anyone can attempt these 26 DIYs — which include tie-dying with Shabd Simon-Alexander, jewelry-making with Jennifer Sarkilahti of Odette, and marbling with Ilana Kohn — comes in part from the incredibly detailed, step-by-step photographs, which were taken during the course of a weeklong shoot last fall at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes, of the photography site 3191 Miles Apart, who also shot the film photographs documenting the day-by-day of the shoot, which we’re sharing here today,

  18. 10.15.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Oscar Wanless for Riess, at Vienna Design Week

    Oscar Wanless is one half of Silo Studio, the London twosome whose unorthodox investigations into industrial materials have graced Sight Unseen more than a few times. But when I met up with him during last month’s London Design Festival, I found that his latest solo project was also more than worth a mention. For this year’s Vienna Design Week, Wanless worked with Riess, a ninth-generation enamelware company based in Ybbsitz, a small town in southern Austria. The factory has been knocking out metal pots and pans since 1550, and enamelling them at its Austrian headquarters for nearly a hundred years as well. Wanless came on board to disrupt the company’s tried, tested, and perfected process.

  19. 10.11.13
    Eye Candy
    New Work by David Taylor

    Hot off the presses! A Sight Unseen fave, David Taylor gave us a ‘first look’ at his newest trio–a mirror, a vase and a plate. Taylor’s work is often a conglomerate of materials, surfaces and actual conglomerates. Today we see a mix of polished brass, concrete and rough edged rock clusters combined to form this elegant and satisfying series. Taylor comments the project is very much “in embryo” so don’t be surprised if the set takes off in a new direction. Even tho to our wide eyes the series looks completely snazzy as is.

  20. 10.09.13
    Sighted
    Jonathan Zawada

    We don’t typically use the phrase “so good I wanna puke” to describe our latest product finds. For one, we fear this is not the sort of syntax that would be looked upon too favorably by former journalism professors. For two, there isn’t much that totally knocks us off our feet these days. But that was exactly my reaction when I saw these flat-pack marble tables by Australian designer Jonathan Zawada, first on I’m Revolting and then on Arkitip. Called Affordances #1 (Y.O.R.I. — “You Only Reincarnate Indefinitely”), the tables are made from pieces of marble, granite, and synthetic stone, require no fixtures to assemble, and are infinitely recombinable. They also capitalize on one of our favorite new trends — terrazzo — without seeming at all trendy, and represent one of the first forays into design for someone known more as an art director and artist. Consider us officially obsessed.

  21. 09.26.13
    What They Bought
    Zoe Alexander Fisher’s Handjob Gallery//Store

    In 2007, San Francisco native Zoe Alexander Fisher was 16 and designing an eponymous line of girly cocktail dresses that sold in local boutiques and landed her in the pages of Nylon and Teen Vogue. A mere six years later, the entrepreneurial 22-year-old has today unveiled her latest project, the so-called Handjob Gallery//Store, and it couldn’t possibly be more disparate: It’s an online shop stocked with the kinds of weird and wacky handmade curios infinitely more likely to baffle the general public than to send it stampeding towards Saks. What happened in between? A coming of age, of sorts. After realizing she loved making clothes but hated everything else involved in the fashion business, Fisher went to school to study sculpture and art history, where she found a calling examining the complicated relationship between fine art and function. “There were all these debates in my art classes saying that if you could use it, it’s not art, and I felt such a strong divide was unnecessary,” she says. One 60-page research paper later, she had the idea for Handjob Gallery//Store — officially launching this evening at Sight Unseen’s Back2Cool pop-up shop — which invites practicing artists who don’t normally work in design to create limited-edition objects that do more than just sit there and look pretty.

  22. 09.25.13
    Eye Candy
    Eleanor Davies, Artist

    Eleanor Davies’s enormous, gigantic, puff ball of a pom pom is mind blowing. Entitled Over 200 Beautiful Colours Davies creation is made from wool, newspaper and rope. Her photographs documenting ‘the wrapping’ process are art in themselves. Cutting through layers and layers of yarn must have have quite a feat. It’s the pom pom to end all pom poms. Davies lives and works in London.

  23. 09.17.13
    Eye Candy
    LDF 2013: Mountain Light by Studio Swine

    Studio Swine introduces a light shining bright with inspiration from mid century modern West Coast architecture. Swine explains, “…the vacation homes of Palm Springs where wild landscapes of desserts and canyons are integrated with playful luxury interiors and glass facades.” Its faux marble finish and jutting dimensional angles exudes a mountainous landscape while tubular brass legs provide height and atmosphere. Catch a glimpse of Mountain Light debuting at London Design Festival happening now.

  24. 09.11.13
    The Making Of
    Nick Ross’s Objects of Ambiquity Series

    In the fictional narrative behind his Objects of Ambiquity series, Nick Ross is a designer from the future who’s been hired by a history museum called The Institution to work as an “object mediator,” delving into the origins and possible uses of any mysterious artifacts the rest of the staff can’t identify. When he presented the project at the Konstfack graduate thesis show earlier this year — including his White Lies table (pictured above), A Mirror Darkly, and Baltic Gold shelves — he staged the presentation as if it were a snapshot from The Institution itself, his pieces being among the targets of his imagined discovery process. “The story of Objects of Ambiquity is a vessel used to highlight the role of fiction within historical records,” says Ross. “While doing this, it simultaneously questions the designer’s possible future role within this context and how this will alter our understanding of what a museum is.” The White Lies table, for example, examines how hard it is for us to accept new discoveries that fundamentally alter what we thought we knew about historical events and cultures (in this case, the fact that many ancient Greek and Roman statues were actually painted in bright, some might say “garish,” colors). A Mirror Darkly reflects on how much conjecture is involved in the analysis of ancient objects. Read on to learn more about both objects and see how they were made.

  25. 09.06.13
    Eye Candy
    Jennie Jieun Lee, Ceramist

    Jennie Jieun Lee forms blobs of clay into attractive vessels full of good humor. Lee allows the clay to crack and warp and the paint to drip and drop. Pieces are named Eddie’s Mug, Salome, Suzanne and—Mr. Vukelich—A jar and lid based on a true man who sat in a classroom behind me. Make sure you check out her instagram, so many more goodies. Lee lives and works in NYC.

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