Tag Archives: retail

  1. 11.07.13
    Where They've Been
    Shinola’s Daniel Caudill in Detroit

    It wasn’t too long ago that bringing up Detroit made people feel sad. For decades it was America’s most downtrodden city; the first and only time I visited, 15 years ago, at age 19, I gasped dramatically upon arrival that it looked like its downtown had literally been bombed out and abandoned. But two or three years ago, Detroit got a brand new narrative, unfortunately by way of an annoyingly over-baked media frenzy that branded it the next hipster haven, complete with coffee shops, urban farms, and its first Whole Foods. The arrival of Shinola — which opened a watch factory and bicycle workshop there last year — quickly became a part of that narrative, even moreso when it opened its second retail location in New York a few months ago and began introducing the East Coast to its $2,000 artisanal bicycles and handmade leather goods. And yet the company is playing an important part in what’s really going on in Detroit, beyond all the coffee shops and organic foods, which is that it’s in the process of replacing parts of its failed industrial economy with a creative one, and that its residents and legislators are counting on that renewal to get the city back on its feet.

  2. 11.06.13
    Eye Candy
    AOO Shop in Barcelona

    AOO is a new store and brand in Barcelona started by Marc Morro and Oriol Villar, whose first collection is a mix of chunky wood pieces they’ve designed and built in their workshop and pieces they’ve commissioned from other designers and had produced by local craftsmen. The store’s shelves are supplemented with outside objects from brands like Santa & Cole, and its graphics are the work of Eindhoven faves Raw Color. “We’re a place where you can easily find things that are hard to find,” say the founders. “For example, things to give to someone you really care about, like yourself if you consider it appropriate.”

  3. 11.04.13
    Factory Tour
    Mykita’s Berlin Headquarters

    Just a few blocks from the three-story factory where Mykita eyeglasses are designed, prototyped, and assembled by hand by a team of skilled workers, there’s a world-renowned contemporary art museum currently showing works inspired by Joseph Beuys’s vision of the future. There’s a new bar where fancy hipsters go to sip $15 Moscow mules, and more than a few new “luxury” condo buildings, which have begun sprouting like weeds in the area in the past five years. That’s about when Mykita moved its headquarters to their current location in the middle of Berlin’s Mitte neighborhood, which is basically the New York equivalent of setting up shop in Soho. It doesn’t actually manufacture from scratch there the metal and acrylic frames that are its signature — the parts are sent up in flat batches from South Germany — but it does just about everything else that’s required to construct and ship out between 600 and 1,000 pairs of glasses per day to the likes of Colette and Opening Ceremony. “It’s a business philosophy for Mykita that everything is under one roof,” says Lisa Thamm, head of Mykita PR, who gave us a tour of the factory this past June. “It’s actually easier that way, especially when your graphics team, your designers, everybody is really into detail.”

  4. 11.02.13
    Saturday Selects
    Week of October 28, 2013

    In a perfect world, we’d all be spending our Saturdays sleeping in, making brunch, then reading the paper in our pajamas all afternoon. Our smartphones would be switched off, and we wouldn’t open our computers until we were forced to get back to work on Monday morning. But who are we kidding? Days like those come around once in a blue moon, and we’re not exactly Luddites over here anyway — we like spending time online, when it’s for our own enjoyment, anyway. Assuming there are those of you out there who agree — or are just helplessly addicted to your RSS — we’ve decided to start a weekly recap each Saturday in order to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, and events from the past seven or so days. If you’re lucky enough to be reading this on Monday, we salute you. But for everyone else, we hope we can make it worth your while to consider spending a little bit of your downtime with us each weekend, pajamas or no.

  5. 10.28.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    AmDC x Outpost Journal: Hometown Homage

    Last week, we introduced you to Outpost Journal, a magazine founded by Pete Oyler and Manya Rubinstein that investigates American creative scenes outside the likes of L.A. and New York, focusing on a different secondary city each year. This week, we’re showing you the results of the magazine’s recent collaboration with the American Design Club, which invited young designers to reflect on their own hometowns across the country, no matter how large or small. Exhibited earlier this month at the ever-changing New York boutique Story, as part of its Made in America showcase, the project — Hometown Homage — included a dozen or so objects intended to celebrate “the origins of our creative identities,” as AmDC co-founder Kiel Mead put it in the call for entries. “As creative professionals, the environments from which we come – whether a farm, small town, or large metropolis – help to shape our worldview. The AmDC challenged designers to look retrospectively at their hometown experiences to design an object that reflects their heritage, paying homage to their past with skill sets honed in the present.” The show itself closed on Friday, but Sight Unseen picked our favorite pieces to share with anyone who didn’t have the pleasure of seeing them in person.

  6. 10.16.13
    Sight Unseen Presents
    The Etienne Aigner Flagship Opening

    In many ways, the story of Etienne Aigner is a personal one for us. As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I remember coveting my mother’s gold horseshoe–embossed heels, and then, as a teen, scouring the shoe racks at Marshall’s for a pair of my own. And Monica? I’m pretty sure when we first met she had a dozen pairs of the brand’s vintage loafers and Priscilla heels, and she happily passed that obsession — complete with eBay alerts and frantic Etsy searches — on to me. So we were more than thrilled earlier this year when Sight Unseen was approached by the 63-year-old heritage brand, now led by creative director Daniela Anastasio Bardazzi, to help conceive and curate the opening of their first-ever flagship in New York’s Soho.

  7. 10.07.13
    Shop
    Seven New Items for Fall!

    When we launched the Sight Unseen shop just under two years ago, we decided to focus exclusively on jewelry and wearables, which are relatively easy for designers to fabricate — and experiment on — and easier still for us to ship. If we’ve strayed from that formula, introducing our first handful of small housewares last summer and going full-tilt this week with our heaviest item yet, a pair of marble and steel bookends that should have the USPS grinning, well, can you blame us? We couldn’t pass up the chance to offer our readers a first exclusive on the bookends, handcrafted by Philly designer Brendan Timmins and not yet sold anywhere else, or Eric Trine’s steel pyramid shown above, however impractical. They’re joined by a brand new series of painted Baggu pouches, climbing rope necklaces by two Icelandic sisters, a brass bottle opener masquerading as an objet d’art, new geometric wind chimes by Ladies & Gentlemen studio, and last but not least, the return of the official Sight Unseen t-shirt. Check them all out after the jump.

  8. 10.03.13
    Self Portrait
    Keehnan Konyha’s Safe House USA

    How do you know when someone’s a child of the ’80s? Posting photos of Lisa Frank’s headquarters on their blog is a pretty obvious clue. Brooklyn interior designer Keehnan Konyha has been tracking his eccentric tastes on his freestyling eponymous site for the past three years, and dipping into his formative decades liberally, so it didn’t surprise us a bit when he totally went there for his Sight Unseen Self Portrait. His newest project is a bedding textile company called Safe House USA that’s inspired by streetwear and the visual influences he tracks on the web, and he couldn’t imagine a better way to showcase his first collection than to pin it up to a white metal grid in a way that should be familiar to anyone who grew up in the era of cheesy department store displays and layaways at TJMaxx. Published here are the exclusive photos Konyha shot of the series — which is printed with internet-approved motifs like faux marble, punctuation marks, and the black and white mottle unique to composition notebooks — along with the backstory behind both the collection and his vision for this project.

  9. 09.27.13
    Up and Coming
    Helen Levi, ceramicist

    If, like us, you began hearing the name Helen Levi only a few months ago — well, there’s a pretty good reason for it. At this time last year, Levi was balancing four part-time jobs, working as a photo assistant, a pottery teacher, a bartender and a waitress. “I’d been doing pottery since I was a little kid, but mostly gifts or for myself,” she told me when I visited her Greenpoint studio last month. “It’s the dream to be able to make stuff you want to make and have that support you, but I never really thought that was possible.” Then, at a random cocktail event last fall at one of the Steven Alan shops in Manhattan, Levi met the man himself: “I met Steven Alan by chance and was telling him about my work, and he was like, ‘Send it to me.’ I didn’t even have one photograph!” Levi laughs. “But once I met him, it was the spark. I quit all my other jobs and I just tried to do this. Maybe it doesn’t work out and I go back to balancing four things, but it didn’t take a huge investment of money. And so far it’s working.”

  10. 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.

  11. 09.23.13
    shop
    We’re Popping Up in New York!

    We’ve been going gangbusters in our online shop this year — and we have a ton of new things in the pipeline for fall! — but sometimes we miss, you know, actually meeting our customers. So from September 26–28, the Sight Unseen Shop will be hosting BACK 2 COOL, a three-day pop-up event in the heart of downtown New York with some of our favorite up-and-coming designers. At the Lindsey Adelman showroom in Noho, we’ll be showcasing and selling our own signature jewelry and housewares alongside the work of four other creative entrepreneurs. On sale will be editioned objects by contemporary artists from Zoe Fisher’s new Handjob Gallery//Store, ceramics and necklaces from Brooklyn designer Helen Levi, prototypes and planters from Chen Chen & Kai Williams, and fine jewelry from Lindsey Adelman Studio. The Sight Unseen Shop will also be debuting its brand new wares for fall and holiday including coasters by Kiel Mead, wind chimes by Ladies & Gentlemen studio, ceramic lamps by B. Zippy, cosmic pyramids by Eric Trine, brass bottle openers by Light & Ladder, jewelry by Shikama and Twin Within, men’s accessories by Ilana Kohn, and marbled bookends by Brendan Timmins. Also available at the sale will be past season samples, current stock, and exclusive Sight Unseen T-shirts! Please stop by and say hello!

  12. 09.20.13
    The View From Here
    LDF13: Modus Furniture in Somerset, UK

    Despite being closely associated with the UK, and with top Brit designers like Simon Pengelly and PearsonLloyd, there’s nothing particularly British about Modus’s actual furniture: Sleek, modern, and mostly solid in color and material, its sofas, lights, and chairs have a kind of pan-European or even slightly Scandinavian feel. So we were surprised to see the brand celebrating its new London Design Festival launches (pictured after the jump) with a companion exhibition of striking photographs by Angela Moore, which document the otherworldly landscapes of rural Somerset, England — the home of Modus HQ. “Shooting the local landscape is a little random for us,” says Modus co-founder and Somerset native Jon Powell, who credits London creative agency Studio Small with the idea. “But it actually made sense to us to say look, we’re British, and we’re committed to sustainable design.” In addition to all eight of Moore’s images, which are on view this week and next in the show “Out of Sight” at Modus’s London showroom, we asked Powell to tell us a little bit more about the brand’s home base, and what it’s like making very urban furniture from a place that’s anything but.

  13. 09.18.13
    What We Saw
    At Capsule New York

    Don’t worry, we’ve got eyes on the ground at the mega–big deal trade fair happening this week — i.e. the London Design Festival — but since your editors are sadly missing out on those festivities, we thought we’d first offer a glimpse inside a trade show we ourselves had never attended until this week: Capsule, the six-year-old, 12-times-a-year fashion and lifestyle event for independent designers. This month was the SS14 women’s edition, and having mostly attended design fairs we weren’t really sure what to expect. Capsule is held at a massive venue on the East River that doubles as basketball court and event space (it’s where the New York edition of the NADA art fair was this spring), and the soundtrack was appropriately bumpin’. We were there mostly to get face time with some of our favorite designers — like Ilana Kohn, Wing Yau, Ellen van Dusen, and SU regulars like Chen Chen and Iacoli & McAllister — but we also spent lots of time browsing in the hopes we’d discover someone new to write about (or something new to take home from the cash-and-carry shop portion, which of course we did in spades.) Here are some of our favorite finds from the afternoon.

  14. 09.17.13
    What They Bought
    LDF 2013: So Sottsass at Darkroom London

    Had we thought of it ourselves, “That’s so Sottsass” is a phrase we might have used hundreds of times over the past five years to describe all the designs spawned by the recent mega-Memphis revival. Crazy colors, clashing patterns, geometric shapes on shapes — it all came rushing back in homage to Ettore and his crew, a fact which the intrepid duo behind our fave London store Darkroom chose to acknowledge this week with the debut of their So Sottsass collection. Launching last night — day one of this year’s London Design Festival — the installation includes both Memphis-like objects by outside designers and new pillows and wrapping papers conceived by Darkroom owners Rhonda Drakeford and Lulu Roper-Caldbeck as part of their ongoing in-house collection. There’s also an amazing window display by up-and-coming Italian stylists StudioPepe. Drakeford took time out of her crazy LDF schedule to not only share photos of So Sottsass with us, but to tell us the inspiration behind the collection: “At Darkroom, we’ve always had a penchant for maximalist modernism — bold colour palettes, big patterns, and brave combinations,” she says. “In a decade of ‘greige,’ we love exploring how being bold and playful with design can fit into modern life.”

  15. 09.10.13
    The Essentials
    Our Favorite Sites, on Coast

    The first thing most people will notice when they start using Coast — the groundbreaking new designed-for-iPad browser by the Norwegian software company Opera — is that the experience doesn’t actually feel all that new. Sure, it’s completely different from any browser that’s come before: There are no scrollbars, no bookmarks, no tabs, no status bars. Gone, in fact, are nearly all buttons; everything on Coast is done via a swipe of the finger. But if using Coast feels familiar, that’s because Coast’s developers took their cues from the experience of using apps on the iPad, and the gestures used within apps themselves. The first thing we noticed of course, though, were the looks of the thing. Coast resembles an iPad screen; its main feature is a scrollable series of tiles, which you use to highlight your favorite sites rather than using bookmarks or tabs. Since users are encouraged to curate their home screen with most-read sites, just as you would an RSS reader (or a bookshelf IRL), we figured this would be the perfect excuse to create our own list of some of our favorite sites. Read on for our picks as well as a look at Coast’s other great new features.

  16. 08.01.13
    What They Bought
    Keren Richter and Gabriel Kuo’s RATS Pop-Up Shop in Berlin

    Talk about the right place at the wrong time: I left Berlin to come back to New York two weeks ago, and thus managed to miss what may end up being the coolest event of the summer, tonight’s opening of Keren Richter and Gabriel Kuo’s RATS pop-up shop in Mitte. Kuo, who’s an art director and graphic designer, and Richter, an illustrator and artist, are both longtime New Yorkers who (like me) consider Berlin as something of a second home; for RATS, they joined forces to bring the German capital a strange sampling of some of their favorite objects and oddities from New York and beyond, everything from Fort Standard bottle openers to Knicks hats to strange souvenirs they’ve acquired on their travels. If you’re in Berlin or headed there, don’t miss the chance to visit the shop at Torstrasse 68 before it closes at the end of August. Otherwise, get a virtual sneak peek at it here, alongside an interview with Richter and Kuo about how and why they put the RATS project together.

  17. 06.17.13
    What We Saw
    At DMY 2013

    One half of Sight Unseen may currently be stationed in Berlin, but when it came to covering DMY last week — the 10-year-old fair for young designers that takes place here annually at the decommissioned Tempelhof airport — we passed the torch to our longtime friend and sometime SU contributor, Thorsten van Elten of the online shop Theo, while we jetted off to Basel. In Berlin from London for a few days on a whim, partly to check out the fair’s offerings and partly as a tax-deductible excuse to revisit one of his favorite cities, van Elten documented for us his personal DMY selections, but also key moments from his romp through town — all couched in his crazy sense of humor. Scroll through his DMY travel diary below, then head over to Theo to check out what he does for a living.

  18. 06.10.13
    Shop
    Summer Sale in the Sight Unseen Shop!

    When the weather gets hot and sweaty in the city, we definitely have a go-to uniform: a super-simple tank top or airy sundress, the less fussy the better, paired with a favorite piece of statement jewelry. So summer chic. We figured we’d celebrate the season with a special sale designed to help you stay cool no matter what the forecast — for the next two weeks, seven popular items in our online shop are priced at 25% off, from $38 for a splatter-paint bangle to $210 for an ombre leather cuff that’s made entirely by hand in London. Check out the sale items below, then head over to the shop to take advantage of the discount by June 24!

  19. 05.23.13
    What We Saw
    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!

  20. 05.02.13
    Shop
    New For Spring in the Sight Unseen Shop!

    Geometry, shapes, ceramics, iridescence — these are a few of our favorite things, so it’s no wonder they’re all over our spring shop update! We’ve been stockpiling the amazingness for weeks, including our first men’s ring (and first piece by Jonathan Nesci) and our lowest-priced item ever: mix-and-match ceramic stud earrings by Jujumade that are a steal at only $18 each. The rest of the names you’ll recognize, like Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, WWAKE, Object & Totem, Katy Krantz, Gemma Holt, and Iacoli & McAllister, the latter of whom have reprised their Sight Unseen–exclusive Necklace No. Ultra for a third time in hammertone, a crackled enamel finish that will play a starring role in their new furniture launch this month. Check out all the new jewelry offerings after the jump, then stay tuned for a second round of exciting spring additions next week — housewares!

  21. 04.22.13
    Sight Unseen Presents
    The BYCO Design Contest

    When we first started writing about design nearly a decade ago, almost all young furniture talents had the same starry eyed aim: to get a piece produced by a big European company like Cappellini, then sit back and watch the 3% royalties trickle in. My how things have changed. These days emerging designers are just as likely to produce their own work and sell it online, cutting out the middle man and relying on press, exhibitions, and social media to get the word out. And for those who would rather operate somewhere in the middle, now there’s also BYCO, a new micro-financing site for fashion and housewares designers who are motivated enough to promote their own ideas but wouldn’t mind having someone else deal with the logistics of production. Founded by Jesse Finkelstein of JF & Son and his sister Meredith, the site lets you submit a design, then promote it to potential funders to cover the costs of making a prototype. If you’re successful, your design is sold on the site for a month, with BYCO handling production and fulfillment and your funders getting a nice little discount to the shop. As a designer, you receive 20% of sales and one of your pieces for free (or 30% if you cover the sampling cost). Starting today, Sight Unseen has teamed up with BYCO to sweeten the pot even further — submit your own design to the site by Monday, June 3, and we’ll pick the best three submissions to bypass the funding stage and go straight into production on the site. Just follow the directions below to get started! Just follow the directions after the jump to get started!

  22. 04.08.13
    Q+A
    Melissa Bartley, Field Visual Manager of Terrain at Styers

    When we first began hearing rumblings a few years back about Terrain, the garden center/home store/plant nirvana/farm-to-table café/dreamy wedding venue located 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia, we had no idea that the place was founded and operated by Urban Outfitters. Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, to do a profile one day on the sweet couple who must own the place? But don’t laugh at our cluelessness just yet. Though its flagship campus is huge — nearly a dozen buildings spread out over five acres — Terrain has the intimate vibe and the quirkily curated stock of a much smaller operation. Credit for projecting that cozy vibe, despite being part of one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the country, goes in large part to Terrain’s visual team — the buyers, merchandisers, and creatives who stock the place with mason jars, ticking stripe aprons, vintage planters, sea salt soaps, bocce ball sets, and terrariums.

  23. 04.02.13
    The Essentials
    Joel Evey, Graphic Designer

    Joel Evey owes his career to Pixar, believe it or not. He made a name for himself as part of the team that was bringing edgy, high-brow graphics to Urban Outfitters back in 2010 — with a style some like to call the “new ugly” — but at age 15, it was Toy Story that changed his life. “I saw it for the first time and was like, wow, that’s crazy! You can do that with a computer?” recalls Evey, who at the time was already about to head off to college early to study computer science. Instead of hard coding, he decided to pursue animation and 3-D graphics instead. “But animations took so long to render that I started to think, ‘Well, what happens when I take this image and just render one of them?’ Then, ‘What if I put type on it? What would that look like?’” The rest, as they say, is history.

  24. 02.12.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Alley-Oop by Will Bryant and Eric Trine at Poketo

    Before the show Alley-Oop opens at L.A.’s Poketo store this coming Saturday, you should take a moment to thoroughly examine the portfolios of its two Portland-based collaborators, illustrator Will Bryant and furniture designer Eric Trine. Because think about it: How easy is it to picture the results of a collaboration spanning the two disciplines? Especially when Bryant’s work is so crazy vibrant — full of squiggles and anthropomorphized hot dogs wearing neon sunglasses — and Trine’s is so very understated, albeit with a lot of cool geometries in the mix. Alley-Oop is like one of those software programs that lets you crudely merge the faces of two people to find out what their child might look like at age 5, though perhaps a better metaphor would be that it’s like what would happen if you pumped two designers full of methamphetamine and locked them in a room together for 48 hours with nothing but some spray paint and a welding gun. Actually, that’s not too far off from how Bryant and Trine describe it themselves. See our interview with the pair after the jump, along with the first preview images of their collaborative work — which hopefully won’t be the last.

  25. 01.23.13
    Invitation
    Kelly Rakowski’s “Life With Max Lamb Prism”

    Here at Sight Unseen, we’re a bit like a college application — fixated on versatility, and in awe of anyone who’s proven themselves equally gifted across a spectrum of interests and activities. So it’s no wonder we became fast friends with someone like Kelly Rakowski, who studied graphics, worked as a book designer for Todd Oldham for five years, started a blog revolving around her obsession with archival textiles, and now makes weavings, housewares, and jewelry as one half of the label New Friends. She’s an artist, a designer, and a stylist, and when we asked her to art-direct a special editorial featuring Max Lamb’s Prism Bangle — commissioned by us for the Sight Unseen Shop — it was no surprise that she understood our vision immediately. Max’s bangle, after all, is way more than just a bangle; it began life as a sculptural object and was adapted for us to wearable proportions, but it still feels just as at home on a desk as it does around your wrist or hanging from your neck. For this slideshow, Rakowski imagined several creative uses for the Prism’s four discrete parts, from spaghetti dosing to cookie-cutting, then photographed her ideas in action.

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