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Introducing Your Newest New York Design Week Destination

Here at Sight Unseen HQ, we've been keeping some pretty major news under wraps for a few months now, but it's time to finally let the cat out of the bag. If you've been reading our site, you know that we founded and ran the Noho Design District, a satellite show during ICFF, for four years. This year we made the tough decision to retire the NDD and launch in its place a new event that shares our namesake: Introducing Sight Unseen OFFSITE, a brand new design fair happening in New York from May 16-20, 2014, that will feature a curated selection of furniture and product launches by the best independent designers and forward-thinking brands, all under one gigantic roof.

At New York Design Week 2013, Part III: Jambox at Noho Next

This year's Noho Next show didn't just look amazing — it sounded amazing, too. That's because in the exhibition's flagship space, Sight Unseen created a special installation for Noho Design District sponsor Jawbone, a kind of video listening area decked out not only with the brand's latest wireless speakers, but with an array of furnishings and objects culled from some of our very favorite designers — from Paul Loebach to Tom Dixon. Styled with the help of Seattle's Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, the space invited Noho Next visitors to kick back, relax, and experience the sound of Jawbone's latest BIG JAMBOXES, which are newly available in more than 100 customizable color combinations. Check out the setup after the jump, plus watch the seven designer-made videos that Sight Unseen hand-picked to screen over the weekend.
A Dacron and Kevlar canoe by Colgate Searle and Mathias Pliessnig was the centerpiece of a travel-themed design show curated by Jonah Takagi of Field in collaboration with Various Projects.

At New York Design Week 2013, Part I: The Noho Design District

Each time we start to celebrate the end of yet another successful edition of our Noho Design District project — this one being our fourth, if you can believe it — it's not long before a certain realization hits us like a ton of bricks: We only really get a few short months to recover before we have to start the process allllll over again. We began planning in the fall for the 2013 edition of the show, which ran from May 17-20 and which we'll be recapping on Sight Unseen today and tomorrow, and it's almost impossible to fathom how much work could go into a four-day event that nevertheless flew by so quickly. There were spaces to secure (thanks, SubCulture!), flyers to finagle (thanks, Benjamin Critton!), and press-preview pastries to provide (thanks, The Smile!). And of course we had to find the perfect brand to partner with to help support all the amazing emerging talents we offer a platform to (thanks, Jawbone!). But in the end all that work would have amounted to naught had our exhibitors failed to bust out with some of the most stunning and inspiring designs we've ever shown, from the simplest concrete domino set to painstakingly elaborate chandeliers, light-up neon desks, and textile installations. In case you weren't lucky enough to join us for this year's event, we've put together a roundup of its highlights, the first half of which is featured in the slideshow at right; stay tuned for coverage of Noho Next, ICFF, and other offsite shows to come. And thanks to everyone who joined us this weekend!

Join Us for the 2013 Show!

There's still an obnoxious chill in the air in New York City, but as the trees start to cautiously bloom and we begin the lurch towards spring, you know it's that time again — we're excited to give you a sneak preview of our fourth annual Noho Design District, which we've curated and produced in partnership with Noho-Bowery Stakeholders. Running from Friday, May 17 through Monday, May 20, it's set to once again be New York Design Week’s most exciting incubator for new ideas and talent.
Joe Doucet peers into the hypnotic surface of his VisAge mirror, a walnut cone with an amber-colored surface. It debuted as part of his new On Time project, which greeted visitors to Wanted Design this year.

At New York Design Week 2012, Part IV: The Rest

At 8:15 AM on Monday, May 21, I heard it in my sleep: thunder, really loud thunder, loud enough to wake me up and send me flying to the window in a panic. The Noho Design District's 22 Bond space had shown signs of roof leakage during setup earlier that week, and with torrential downpours seeming imminent, I threw on shoes and glasses and rushed meet Jill at the space to begin damage control. Thus went the day, as we scrambled to clean up puddles and position buckets underneath the growing indoor deluge, our dreams of making it to the rest of New York Design Week's offsite shows slipping away from us by the hour. We'd seen Wanted Design and Matter the day before, but as fate would have it, there would be no Boffo Show House for us this year, nor would we make it to Model Citizens, despite a valiant effort which saw us sprinting up the stairs of the venue fifteen minutes before the show was scheduled to close, only to find that almost everyone had packed up early. Luckily the American Design Club's Raw + Unfiltered exhibition at Heller Gallery — part two of the Karlsson's Unfiltered project — remained on view later that week, so we paid it a belated visit. (The Boffo house is up through June 4, though as of press time we hadn't been able to get there quite yet; ditto for the Herman Miller pop-up shop, on until July 1.) Next year, if they haven't quite perfected cloning technology just yet, we at least hope to nip this problem in the bud with a more foolproof modern invention: interns.
The sleeper hit of this year's NDD? Modern Craft at The Merchant's House Museum, curated by us. The museum, which dates back to the 19th century, is NYC's only family home that remains intact from that era. We installed the work of five designers — including Andrew Rumpler of Nine Stories, whose bar stools are shown here, and Colgate Searle, who made the masks behind them — amidst the beautiful time-capsule interior.

At New York Design Week 2012, Part III: The Noho Design District

The question we get most often about curating and producing three years' worth of Noho Design Districts isn’t “Can you spare an invite to the VIP party” or even “How can I show my work with you?” but “How on earth do you two do it?” This year was our biggest and best event yet: We had two new hubs (the empty former print lab at 22 Bond Street and The Standard, East Village hotel on Cooper Square); two new international partners (London’s Tom Dixon took over the basement of the Bleecker Street Theater while DMY Berlin hit the American circuit downstairs at 22 Bond); and exhibitions so big that one of them stretched across two different venues (The Future Perfect’s showcase busted the seams of its Great Jones flagship, continuing up the street at 2 Cooper Square).
The undisputed winner of the weekend was Matt Gagnon’s Knit Fort, which was constructed on-site from bars of teak and rubber cording by the designer and his team over the course of a single afternoon. (André Balazs was rumored to have considered keeping the fort for his planned hotel renovation but ultimately declined.) For those who climbed the stairs from the hotel lobby, the fort emerged dramatically into view; for the rest, it beckoned invitingly from its perch on the patio’s raised platform, turning the terrace into something like summer camp.

At New York Design Week 2012, Part II: Hotel California

How could we have possibly known, when we first decided to host an exhibition of California design during our third annual Noho Design District, that we would be blessed with four straight days of glorious, Los Angeles–style sunshine? (Followed, of course, by a day of downpours, but more on that tomorrow.) Springtime in New York is a fickle beast, and when we first began to plan how best to use the gorgeous second-floor terrace space we’d been given at the new Standard, East Village hotel, we said a prayer for mild climes but also engaged in fretful what-ifs with our hotel ambassadors, talking of contingencies like awnings, tarps, and the possibility of moving everything — save for a nearly 50 square foot teak and rubber fort constructed on-site by Matt Gagnon — inside.

Sonos Listening Library at The Standard, East Village

The 2012 Noho Design District starts today! We and all of our amazing exhibitors have been working so hard to ensure it's better than ever (check out the behind-the-scenes setup photos on our Facebook page), we're getting tired just thinking about it. Luckily there's a Hästens circular bed — and all manner of furniture made for lounging — in the Sonos Listening Library at The Standard, East Village, where NDD visitors can sprawl out on furniture by up-and-coming American designers and listen to music emanating from Sonos wireless speakers, including Lindsey Adelman and Kiel Mead's epic Soundalier collaboration pictured above. Mead was also asked by show organizers CoolHunting, Architizer, and Dwell to curate the objects on display in the Listening Library, recruiting an impressive array of little-seen pieces from Taylor Mckenzie-Veal, Evan Dublin, Peter Oyler, Brendan Keim, Brendan Timmins, Tim Richartz, Ashira Isreal, Reed Wilson, Henry Julier, Ian Geoghegan, and Michael Cummings. We asked Mead to tell us more about the project; read his explanation here, then be sure to stop by the show this weekend if you're in New York!

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.

Roll & Hill at ICFF and the Noho Design District

Three ICFFs ago, when we launched the Noho Design District, our biggest exhibition was the debut of Jason Miller's highly anticipated new lighting company Roll & Hill, which took over the top floor of our beloved former lumber building (RIP) and cozily lit its dilapidated interior with a string of gorgeously modern chandeliers. It's hard to believe how far both of us have come since then. With the imminent redevelopment of the NDD's former hub at 45 Great Jones, we went hunting for a new home, and instead found two (we'll be camping out next weekend at 22 Bond Street and the new Standard, East Village hotel). And Roll & Hill — in addition to showing its new collection at the Javits Center — will join up with us once again in Noho, this time spreading out over 3,500 square feet on the ground floor of 2 Cooper Square, where a monthlong temporary showroom will showcase the brand's full collection in addition to its new products for 2012. The brand debuted two new lights in Milan last month but we snagged an exclusive first look at the entire new 2012 collection, which includes new work by NDD alums Jonah Takagi (above), Lukas Peet, and Lindsey Adelman, as well as Miller himself. Check out the new products after the jump and join us next weekend to check out the goods for yourselves.

Sneak Peek at the 2012 Noho Design District

If we've been quiet this week, it's because — as usual — we're up to something big, something outside the realm of the digital. In this case, that something is the 2012 Noho Design District, taking place in New York's Noho neighborhood in just two short weeks, from May 18 to 21. We founded the NDD three years ago to ensure that there would always be a place for the kind of design we love during New York Design Week — independent talents, innovative brands, and an emphasis on the creative, not just the commercial — and our efforts have only grown since then. With the help of the local organization Noho-Bowery Stakeholders, this year's show promises more locations than ever, including two new brand new hubs: the former photo studio at 22 Bond, and the Standard, East Village hotel, where Sonos will help us host a series of exhibitions that includes a showcase of California design curated by your faithful editors. Other exciting developments: The new city-wide design-week coalition we're a part of (check out the site for details), and a shuttle that will be looping around town to all the hotspots during ICFF, including Noho. There's still a lot left to be done before then, but we wanted to take a moment to give you a sneak peek of what's in progress; the process images below were submitted by some of the designers whose work you'll see on view at the Noho Design District. We can't wait to show you the final results.
For the Sight Unseen Shape Shop, we gathered the geometry-obsessed work of 30 designers who hail from Los Angeles to London. At the heart of the shop are three tables — a triangle, a circle, and a square — cut from raw OSB and washed in gray paint, designed by the talented Brooklyn firm The Principals.

The Sight Unseen Shape Shop at Creatures of Comfort

By the close of Sight Unseen's four-day pop-up during the Noho Design District last year, we'd come to realize a few things. One: that we quite enjoy being shopkeepers — the merchandising of objects, the banter with the public, the satisfying swipe of each credit card through our handy Square readers. And two: that four days was not nearly enough. As we watched the objects we'd put so much effort into procuring move on to more permanent retail homes, we felt a vague sense of deflation, almost like a break-up, and we immediately began plotting for pop-up number two. Never, though, did we dream what would happen next: We were approached by Jade Lai, owner of the impeccably curated Creatures of Comfort store in New York and Los Angeles, to create a Sight Unseen pop-up in the gallery space of her New York store, which had previously played host to temporary outposts from the likes of Confettisystem, Textfield, and the Japanese housewares shop Playmountain. After months of planning, we finally debuted the Sight Unseen Shape Shop this Tuesday at a blowout party.