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London Artist and Textile Designer Lucy Hardcastle

Plenty of designers who work primarily in two dimensions translate their patterns and images to textiles, but Lucy Hardcastle‘s oeuvre is particularly diverse — a former textile design student, she creates three-dimensional objects, sets, and artworks made of everything from paint to cement to Jell-O, plus videos and digital renderings that appear to be 3-D, and draws on those creations to make prints for clients like Nike and Alexander Wang.
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Charcolor Furniture, by Louie Rigano and Avantika Agarwal

Our first introduction to Louie Rigano, a New Jersey-born, RISD-educated designer who's now studying in the Design Products program at RCA, was a piece he'd made for the American Design Club's Trophy Show, back in 2013. Called Glittering Urn, it was a neo-classical form made slightly punk-rock by virtue of its material: a resin that had been almost entirely suffused with glitter. So it came as no surprise when we received an email last week from the designer — who describes his process as a "search for moments of unexpected accord between the spectacular and the practical" — of a new furniture collection he'd created in collaboration with fellow student Avantika Agarwal, which paired relatively simple wooden forms with an audacious coloring process. To create Charcolor Furniture's seared rainbow effect, CMYK pigments are literally burned onto the wood.
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Marine Duroselle, graphic designer

For the young, French graphic designer and Royal College of Arts grad Marine Duroselle, a relationship to pattern and shape is both instinctive and intuitive, owing in large part to the vast array of objects she was exposed to as a child. Growing up in Peru, her mother an anthropologist specializing in pre-Colombian textiles, Duroselle was continually surrounded by rich fabrics, threads and other types of South American crafts; a period of post-adolescence spent living in New York, on an exchange program at the School of Visual Arts, only further emphasized her interest in textiles and color.
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James Shaw, Furniture Designer

I recently wrote an article for a forthcoming issue of Architectural Digest on the London talent Anton Alvarez, whose Thread-Wrapping Machine has captivated the design world as of late, and in it, his gallerist Libby Sellers makes the point that what's so of the moment about his work is that he isn't just making objects, he's making the object that makes the objects. And it's so true: Many of the more interesting young designers we've come across in the past few years have been the ones shifting their focus towards developing their own weird and wonderful production processes, like Silo Studio for instance. There's just something about this unexpected inventiveness that captures people's curiosity, which explains why the latest project by newcomer James Shaw — a series of homemade "guns" that spray or extrude materials into or onto furnishings — went viral on the design blogs shortly after he presented it at his RCA graduation show. In work like his, it's about the journey, not just the destination. So Sight Unseen, right?
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Ya Wen Chou, Textile and Product Designer

Ahh, design school — where navel-gazing and the pretentions of identity art are not only tolerated, but encouraged (on days when the lesson plan doesn't focus on sustainability or people with disabilities, of course). It's easy for lesser talents to get sucked too far into these themes and end up with over-baked work that either borders on kitsch or is completely irrelevant to the wider world, but when done right, the results can be both beautiful and culturally illuminating — as in the case of Ya Wen Chou, who used her time in the RCA's textile department to dig into the traditions of her grandmother and her home country of Taiwan. "My grandmother’s house was always full of handicrafts made by Taiwanese artisans," she told the Arts Thread blog last year, explaining a main source of her inspiration. And her Precious Objects project — which first caught our eye on Pinterest — explores her culture's traditional reverence for nature's role in everyday life, which does feel rather universal, having a lot in common with everything from Icelandic elf mythology to Native American spirituality. Read more about Chou's point of view in our interview after the jump.
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...some of which literally look like shapeless blobs. Beautiful shapeless blobs, anyway.

Silo Studio, Furniture Designers

Oscar Wanless and Attua Aparicio certainly aren’t the first design students to have clashed with an industrial manufacturer, showing up the so-called experts by proving a seemingly impossible process quite possible after all. But the RCA grads—who now collaborate as Silo Studio—are certainly the first we’ve heard of whose triumph so impressed said manufacturer that they were asked to move into the factory. At an industrial park 45 minutes outside the center of London, Silo operates out of a small warehouse room on the premises of Jablite, the U.K.'s largest maker of styrofoam insulation panels. “They’ve got steam, which is how we produce what we produce,” explains Wanless, that being lumpy polystyrene furnishings once compared to “stage scenery for a production of Hansel and Gretel on acid.”
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Hilda Hellström, Swedish Sculptor and Designer

In any designer’s career, there are hundreds of split-second decisions that conspire to create the precise conditions under which good work can emerge. For the Swedish-born, London-based designer Hilda Hellström, it came down to this one: When she was asked to create a project for this year’s Royal College of Art exhibition at the Milan Furniture Fair, she says with a laugh, “the wood workshop was quite busy, but the resin workshop was nice and quiet.” Of course, there’s more to the recent grad's breakout Sedimentation vases than that; Hellström is obsessed with the idea of imbuing her objects with a myth and narrative of their own. But in many ways the vessels — which are made from layers of pigmented Jesmonite, a non-toxic acrylic-based plaster often used in ceilings and restoration work — are a reaction against something else. “My father was a carpenter, so I was used to working with wood, and I was bored of how you have to consider that it’s a living material,” she says. “Wood tells you what to make, but working with a moldable material like Jesmonite is almost like playing God.”
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The RCA’s Platform 14 Graduate Projects

There’s a funny ritual that goes on at the start of each year in the Design Products program at London’s Royal College of Art. The masters program is split into five separate units, or “platforms,” and the professors helming each — which at last count included Sebastian Wrong, Doshi Levien, and curator Daniel Charny — are charged with convincing new students to turn away from the others to join their course. Mostly they rely on written manifestos describing the aims and ideals of their particular curriculum, like enacting social change or loosening the boundaries of the discipline, but there are also more nuanced incentives, like we will hire Jasper Morrison’s photographer to take extremely clever shots of your final projects, a move recently employed by Platform 14 leaders André Klauser and Ben Wilson. Granted, when they called in camerasmith Nicola Tree to shoot the images you see here — which are a Sight Unseen exclusive — it was meant more to teach their six graduating students that documenting work is a key part of the design process, especially in a course aimed at fostering entrepreneurship.
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Study O Portable’s Level Scarves, whose overlapping herringbone patterns were inspired by an aerial view of city buildings but motivated by the pair’s desire to achieve a print with “a certain indeterminate aspect,” they explain. “It can produce almost infinite variations of patterns—as long as it’s printed twice in a different angle, it always results in something new.”

Study O Portable, Product and Jewelry Designers

You can learn a lot about Dutch designer Bernadette Deddens by just looking at her. First there are the shoes, which — depending on the day and the whims of London’s weather — she very well may have made herself. One pair of sandals constructed from $25 worth of pale leather and black cording could be mistaken for Margielas, yet are no less awe-inspiring for the fact that Deddens actually nicked the look from Tommy Hilfiger. After all, who makes their own shoes, anyway? Then there’s her jewelry, which is almost always her design, unless it’s a collaboration with her husband Tetsuo Mukai, with whom she formed Study O Portable two years ago. The jewelry is their way of giving people a form of creative expression that can be carried outside the house and into the wider world, as Deddens so poignantly demonstrates — hence their otherwise peculiar studio name.
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“With my carafes, I was also referencing normal plastic containers, but finding a way to elevate them into a piece of art.”

Victoria Wilmotte, Furniture Designer

As the youngest child of a Parisian architect — with three older brothers working in the same field — Victoria Wilmotte had one thing going for her when she started studying furniture design at London's RCA four years ago. But she also had a few handicaps: she was only 20 years old, she had just been rejected from Paris's ENSCI school, and her professor at RCA, Jurgen Bey, couldn't comprehend her strange working methods. Obsessed with materials and surfaces, she wanted to spend all her time in the workshop, skipping the thinking and brainstorming part and going directly to prototyping. "Jurgen Bey was really into concepts," says Wilmotte, now 24. "He was more about a table telling stories, but I only wanted to talk technically. He basically said, 'I don’t understand you. But continue.'"
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