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 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
Our first-ever From the Archives post, which looked back at William Sklaroff's mid-century desk accessory set Radius One, dates back to November 10, 2009 — the very first day of Sight Unseen's existence. But after that, the column pretty much petered out, partly because we didn't have the time to research it properly and partly because, with millions upon millions of wonderful old things to potentially highlight, how could we ever choose just one? We've officially solved that problem today with the launch of our new and improved From the Archives series, in which designers and artists will do all the work for us: Each edition will invite a talent we admire to give a little history lesson on someone from the past who's had a strong impact on their work. Our first subject is Brooklyn glassmaker Andrew O. Hughes, speaking about the California Light and Space sculptor DeWain Valentine (no holiday-themed pun intended).
Sometimes you can take one look at a designer's body of work and deduce that they have a background in architecture before ever meeting or talking with them. Amsterdam-based Michael Schoner — who worked his way through multiple architecture firms across Europe before settling in Amsterdam and founding his own design studio in 2010 — definitely falls into this category. His approach to design is uniquely architectural, building from a visual vocabulary of simple shapes and forms that are often bisected, stacked, or spliced.
A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: Sorting the best of the rest from January's design fairs, getting a crash course in great product photography, and hailing the almighty power of pink (not to mention colored gradients, as seen in Bryce Wilner's puzzle — yes that's a puzzle — above).
Exhibition curators often face a funny dilemma: The more successful they become, the more great people start clamoring be involved in their projects, which ultimately only makes their selection process that much harder. Hence why the minds behind the Swedish design auction Örnsbergsauktionen — which for the past four years has consistently been pretty much the most amazing thing coming out of Stockholm Design Week — decided to tighten the curatorial reins this year, not only requiring that their 30 participants be designers who self-produce their own work in small batches but also leaning heavily towards the ones who work collectively or invent their own materials and processes. Once they managed to narrow their list down to the lucky few, which this year includes folks like Maria Jeglinska and Jenny Nordberg — plus of course founders Simon Klenell, Fredrik Paulsen, and Kristoffer Sundin themselves — they let the magic flow, resulting in the 40 objects that will head to the auction block on February 6. As usual, we've excerpted our favorites after the jump.
Sibling camaraderie is nothing new in the design world. We've been familiar with brother teams like the Campanas, the Bouroullecs, and the Peets for years, as well as sister power duos like the women behind Building Block, Block Shop Textiles, and Twin Within. Now you can add to that list Bonnie and Bliss Adams, the Melbourne, Australia–based sisters behind the new label Marble Basics. The sisters have created a new collection of tabletop accessories, rendering all of your most essential housewares in that eternally chic material (and some not-so-essentials as well, though who doesn't love a decorative obelisk?). Each object somehow conveys the luxuriousness and durability that stone entails while maintaining an approachable price point. The products are so simple in form and function, it's hard to imagine a better name for the company—Marble Basics.
The first work we ever knew from Portland, Oregon–based furniture designer Matthew Philip Williams was a collection he calls The Step-Family. The pieces, which were designed individually but at the same time, include a pinchpot mug in Yves Klein blue, a laminate and maple bench, and a steel and Douglas fir coat rack. The items are so aggressively functional — and make use of such logical and simple material choices — that you would never guess that Williams’s first inclination was to be a fine artist. After graduating from a material studies program in Richmond, Virginia, Williams headed to Portland to get an MFA in applied craft and design. “I had this vision of being in galleries, but I soon realized I was more mentally suited for functional stuff,” he says. “At the same time, I try to keep my hands and my head in both worlds, thinking about art and furniture and doing what seems right for each project.”