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Portuguese Designer Célia Esteves of GUR Rugs

While Portugal is probably best known, these days, for manufacturing clothing and shoes for big brands like COS, Zara, and Camper — or if you're a product designer, for supplying 50% of the world's cork — Porto-based designer and printmaker Célia Esteves homed in on its longtime flat-weave rug-making tradition when she founded GUR two years ago. After meeting a weaver in her hometown of Viana de Castelo, who for 15 years had been handcrafting the style of rug that she'd seen on "every Portuguese kitchen floor" since she was a child, Esteves decided to hire the weaver to use the same technique to produce colorful limited-edition designs commissioned from illustrators she knew and admired, like Atelier Bingo and Ferreol Babin. We recently interviewed Esteves about the project, which has collabs with Après Ski and Reality Studio on the way; scroll down to read more about how she transformed a local craft into a contemporary design brand.

Transparent Jewelry

A periodic nod to object typologies both obscure and ubiquitous, featuring five of our favorite recent examples. Today, the subject is transparent jewelry, which has evolved beyond its '60s pop connotations to encompass designs both subtle and edgy.

Justin Hunt Sloane, Artist

It can be hard to pin down exactly what it is Brooklyn-based artist and designer Justin Hunt Sloane actually does. He graduated with a BFA in printmaking and interactive design from Art Center, but while there, he became interested in the school's famed automotive program and began dabbling in classes like rapid prototyping and fabrication technology. Since moving to New York, he's held day jobs as a website designer for Creative Time, or, currently, senior designer at the branding agency Wolff Olins, but in his freelance work and spare time, he makes everything from drawings to etchings to self-published books to album covers to sculptures.

Slowly by Sam Moyer at Galerie Rodolphe Jansen

While the Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based artist Sam Moyer has played around with fabric painted to look like marble in the past, the geometric panels suspended in gorgeous bronze armatures that she recently installed at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels are, in fact, the real deal. Meant to interact with the space's striking ceilings and the summer light that filters through them, the slabs are cut so thin as to be almost semi-translucent, a subverting of expectations about the way certain materials are supposed to look, feel, and function — a common theme in Moyer's work, and one that will sound familiar to many designers, which is probably why we've found ourselves so drawn to her.

French Sculptor Cécile Mestelan’s Ceramic Objects

As an MFA student at ECAL, French-born artist Cécile Mestelan got into making small-scale sculptures with plaster for practical reasons — cost and ease of transport — but stuck with the material for more poetic ones: "It’s a very powerful and open material to work with; you can do so much with it, from modeling and sculpting to engraving," she says.

Aleksandra Pollner, Furniture Designer

After her family bribed their way out of Poland in the ’80s, says Aleksandra Pollner, they spent years moving from place to place to place. Her perpetually uprooted childhood, she says, had a profound effect on her work as an adult: “I became fascinated with boundaries, tensions, spaces in between, where we find solace, and what makes us feel comfort and discomfort,” concepts that inspired pieces like her new Line and Circle table and Ma floor light, pictured above.
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At the 2015 Milan Furniture Fair, Part I

Another year, another Milan. Every year we attend the behemoth furniture fair known as Salone expecting to come away with something smart to say about the current state of design. But the truth is, you spend the week bombarded with so much stuff that you're often left with just a few fleeting mental images of your favorite things, whether it's a colorful chair sheathed in Flyknit-esque sneaker material or a particularly delicious gnocchi you nearly licked off the plate. Luckily, that's what cameras are for. We shot nearly everything we saw this year, whether it was for an immediate Instagram, a file-away-for-later trend, or to share with you here, in our best of the best round-up from last week.
The living area of Mimi Jung and Brian Hurewitz, who collaborate on a furniture practice called Brook & Lyn. Each room in the Los Angeles home they purchased a year and a half ago is spare and gallery-like, with a single focal point — in this case, the couple’s newly designed pink sofa, its brass-bar base originally imagined as prison bars to keep their smallest dog from crawling in.

Brook & Lyn, Los Angeles Furniture Designers

The precision-machined brass bars lining the base of Mimi Jung and Brian Hurewitz’s Pepto-pink sofa? They’re a doggie jail. At least they were, conceptually speaking, intended to be; the couple lives with three dogs in Los Angeles’s Mt. Washington neighborhood, and Truffle, the most diminutive of the bunch, necessitated the arrangement. “If you give her six inches of space underneath anything, she’ll steal things from around the house and drag them in there,” says Jung. “I wanted to make a couch that had prison bars for her, so she couldn’t get in.” Granted Jung started out sketching metal poles and wound up creating a system of stunning, diagonally canted fins that subtly shift in appearance depending on one’s vantage point, but the sofa overall was — like much of Brook & Lyn’s work — designed to serve very specific, very personal needs. Since they moved from Brooklyn to L.A. a year and a half ago, Jung and Hurewitz have been populating the studio's portfolio with pieces they’ve created for themselves, and their new home.

Incense Burners

We love design thinking. We love interior design, landscape design, fashion design, and architectural design. We love design for social change, and design for public spaces. But it's hardly a shocker to admit that we've got a particularly soft spot for the design of objects, and as such we're constantly looking for new ways to highlight them — mostly with in-depth backstories and maker profiles, but sometimes, as in our Eye Candy and Saturday Selects posts, with a simple tip of our hats as well. Our newest column, Top 5, is just that: a straightforward, periodic nod to object typologies both obscure and ubiquitous, with five of our favorite recent examples of that typology highlighted in each post. Today, the subject is incense burners, whose proliferation among makers and ceramicists we've been noting for some time now. From geometric compositions to simple brass balls, in no particular order, see our picks after the jump.

B-FIT Assemblage by Fact Non Fact

B-FIT, a project by the Seoul-based design collective Fact Non Fact, is the very definition of eye candy — the geometric shapes it comprises are meant not to function in specific ways, but merely to look pretty and highlight the materials they're made from, which include iron, brass, plaster, terra cotta, marble, wood, glass and concrete. If "A-FIT," according to Fact Non Fact, refers to all the objects in our lives that are optimized for specific functions, like chairs or door handles, "B-FIT" refers to the kinds of objects that aren't. After making the pieces, designers Jinsik Kim, Yuhun Kim, and Eunjae Lee brought them to life in three ways: as a physical installation, as a conceptual deskscape, and as the Assemblage images you see here.
Costumes have also been a big part of Cave Collective’s performances — this is an example of many ideas for those costumes layered on top of each other, including a thick shawl made from strips of dyed cotton and Icelandic wool that Lauigan plans to explore further during the hiatus. “I’d like to do collections of one-of-a-kind shawls and install them as art pieces on a wall,” she says.

Cave Collective, Artists

We discovered Cave Collective by way of their jewelry, which we spotted at the boutique No. 6 in New York, this past October. In late November, we shot founders Cat Lauigan and Alex Wolkowicz in their Greenpoint workspace. Then, by the end of January, we found out that they'd dismantled most of the studio and jewelry line, that Lauigan had relocated to California, and that both artists were focusing on their individual practices until they figured out what to do next. And yet by that point, we knew enough about Cave Collective to take the news in stride — ever since Lauigan and Wolkowicz began their collaboration in 2010, it's been an endlessly shape-shifting and exploratory project, one that's seen them living thousands of miles apart for nearly as long as they've lived in the same city.

Valentin Dommanget, Artist

Like most visually inclined folks his age, 25-year-old French artist Valentin Dommanget — who studied fashion as an undergrad before receiving his MFA at Central Saint Martins last spring — grew up with a steady diet of internet art. Having internalized a certain digital aesthetic that embraces all things geological and hypercolor, natural yet unnatural, he created a series of paintings that take those virtual influences and represent them through actual real-world handicraft, pairing paint-marbled canvases with torqued stretchers that mimic some kind of Photoshop rotation effect. Pictured above and below are selections from that series, plus other pieces that apply the same techniques to concrete tables, paper books, framed canvases, and crooked canvases that appear balanced atop geometric plywood cutouts.