Tag Archives: Studios

  1. 02.08.13
    Up and Coming
    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.

  2. 12.20.12
    Up and Coming
    Fabien Cappello, Furniture Designer

    Whatever Fabien Cappello’s studies at ECAL may have taught him about luxury, his subsequent grad degree at the RCA may have un-taught him: The London-based designer has made stools carved from trashed Christmas trees, Venetian glass vessels melted onto lowly bricks, and benches constructed from shipping pallets or punctuated with cheap street-vendors’ umbrellas. That’s not to say, of course, that Cappello’s work isn’t high end — it’s been shown at the likes of Libby Sellers Gallery and has won him an Elle Decoration New Designers Award — just that the materials and ideas he sees value in wouldn’t exactly be considered the norm. If he’s come a long way since setting up his own studio in 2009, it’s because his focus on local and overlooked resources has captured the curiosity of the design world, not just its eyes or its wallets. That said, with the world headed where it’s headed, his style of economical chic may become the new luxury before long, so we figured he was worth checking in with. He gave Sight Unseen a quick glimpse into his practice below.

  3. 12.04.12
    Up and Coming
    Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, Furniture and Product Designers

    After Jean Lee met Dylan Davis while studying industrial design at the University of Washington, and after a string of successful school collaborations led them to start dating, the two of them did a semester abroad together in Rome. “Those were the good times,” laughs Lee. “We saw all these independent studios there, and designers working more as artists, and it was really inspiring for us. That wasn’t happening at all in Seattle.” And so after they graduated in 2005, Lee went on to work for a messenger bag company based in Philadelphia, while Davis joined the team at Henrybuilt. They did a small trade selling vintage finds on Etsy for awhile, and eventually started repurposing those objects into new designs as a hobby. But what finally led them to join forces as Ladies & Gentlemen in 2009 were the first signs that they might be able to find in Seattle what they experienced in Rome after all: Not only had studios like Iacoli & Mcallister and Grain begun to flourish by making and selling their own work, their new coalition Join was gathering together local designers to collaborate and exhibit together. “Jamie Iacoli asked us to contribute to a show, and were like ‘What the hell? Let’s do it!’”

  4. 11.12.12
    What We Saw
    At the 2012 Dutch Design Week

    It’s been a tough two years for Dutch design. First a newly elected right-wing government slashed the tiny country’s legendary arts funding, causing seemingly irreparable damage to its institutions and grant programs, and then a series of high-profile resignations called into question the inner workings of Eindhoven’s hallowed Design Academy. But even if there are signs that the fairy-tale may not last — that creativity and experimentalism can’t elude the death-grip of capitalism forever, even in a place where designers still benefit from squatters’ rights — we still look forward to Dutch Design Week as a reminder of the happier consequences of those values. While we couldn’t attend this year ourselves, we asked our faithful contributor Marco Tabasso, who’s second-in-command at Rossana Orlandi gallery in Milan, to report back on his experiences at the festival — from his mixed feelings about the Design Academy show to the paella dinner he and Rossana shared with Nacho Carbonell in the designer’s studio, above.

  5. 10.29.12
    Sighted
    Industrial Facility in Herman Miller’s Why Design Series

    For those of you who weren’t aware, your editors — Jill and Monica — are based in New York, where a massive tropical storm is bearing down today with increasing intensity. Jill is safe in the East Village with her family, while Monica fled her Brooklyn apartment for a world of luxurious denial at the Ace Hotel in midtown, where her friend is staying and where the Breslin will be churning out burgers and fries for the duration of the hurricane. Regardless, the serious conditions outside are obviously demanding most of our attention at the moment, so we can only offer a quick dispatch to jump-start the week: a behind-the-scenes video interview with Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of the London design studio Industrial Facility, whose Muji-approved strain of functional minimalism is as beloved as the collection of regional everyday objects featured in their book with Rizzoli last year. While the book served to catalog the couple’s travels around the globe, the video — part of Herman Miller’s ongoing Why Design series — sees them reflecting on the world just outside their front door, and how it influences their work in small but important ways.

  6. 09.07.12
    Up and Coming
    The Fundamental Group, Architects and Furniture Designers

    The Fundamental Group’s designs may be inspired by geometric principles, but the burgeoning Berlin studio owes its existence, at least in an abstract sense, to another realm entirely: physics, ie, the field in which opposites attract. As architecture students at Berlin’s University of the Arts back in 2003, Gunnar Rönsch and Stephen Molloy worked as assistants to rival department chairs, which in the world of academia, meant that they were automatically rivals, too. “If you sign up with one, you hate the other,” Rönsch explains. “Mine was building construction and detail design, while Stephen’s was based on a programmatic approach to structure — my chair basically had to solve all the problems created by his.” In time, however, the pair realized the inevitable — that by joining forces, they’d be stronger. First they became roommates, noticing how smoothly their collaboration on the apartment went, and then they began working together professionally, on projects like a friend’s house remodel. Their only other major conflict came when it was time, in 2010, to choose a name for their new company: Rönsch & Molloy, or Molloy & Rönsch? “A mathematician friend of ours was sitting in our kitchen talking about the fundamental group — a term from algebraic topology that describes very complicated 3-D surfaces,” says Molloy. “It was the perfect compromise.”

  7. 08.23.12
    Excerpt: Magazine
    mono.kultur #32: Martino Gamper, All Channels Personal

    It took me 16 issues (Miranda July) to discover the Berlin-based magazine mono.kultur, after seeing its pull-out poster on my friend’s wall a few years back. “Dear life,” it read, “do you want to hang out tonight? I should warn you that I will not be wearing any make-up and my hair is dirty. If you can handle that, call me. Yours, Miranda July.” Five issues later (Tilda Swinton), I was obsessed: Here was a publication that, with each issue dedicated to a single long-form interview, was less about collecting personalities for front-cover bragging rights and more about truly, painstakingly, and intimately getting to know them. Which is all any of us dream about when it comes to our cultural idols, even those of us who, from time to time, have the honor of crossing their paths ourselves. So even though we’ve profiled Martino Gamper on Sight Unseen before — our lovely London contributor Claire Walsh having toured his home garden and secured us his favorite pasta recipe — we still jumped at the chance to excerpt mono.kultur’s new sit-down with the Italian RCA grad, who talked to its editors about his latest public design projects, his feelings about Ikea, and the use of humor in his work. The interview runs to 10,000 words and — in print — comprises three booklets hand-assembled into one exhaustive artifact that stretches far beyond the small sample presented here. After reading it, scroll down to learn how to get your own copy before it — like most of the issues this cult favorite has produced — sells out forever.

  8. 07.30.12
    Up and Coming
    Kent Fonn Skåre, Artist and Graphic Designer

    Being that he’s still a student at Konstfack in Stockholm, you’ve probably never heard of Norwegian artist and graphic designer Kent Fonn Skåre. But his work, even at first glance, is ridiculously easy to love: It’s got a heavy focus on materials, lots of marble, and a whiff of Memphis — yes, the three “M”s, the golden trifecta of the current avant-garde, or at least the little corner of it that we’re obsessed with, which also includes folks like Clemence Seilles and Jens Praet. We discovered Fonn Skåre via a fleeting image on Pinterest, but found surprisingly little information on him and the ideas behind his work, so we did what we do best, harassing the poor man until we were able to tease out a bit of insight into his practice. Check out the interview and accompanying photos here, then bookmark Fonn Skåre’s Flickr feed to browse more of his graphic design work and follow his future projects.

  9. 07.06.12
    Studio Visit
    Prince Ruth for Urban Outfitters

    When we first got wind of the new Scandances by Prince Ruth textile collection for Urban Outfitters, we had two questions: Who is Prince Ruth? And what the heck is a scandance? The latter question, we found, was easy to answer: It’s that jittery, seismograph-through-the-lens-of-an-acid-trip effect you get when you manipulate an image while it’s in the process of being scanned. As for the former, we assumed — this being Urban, who has an additional collaboration out this month with Sight Unseen favorite Caitlin Mociun, and who’s previously worked with friends like Rich Brilliant Willing — that Prince Ruth was some under-the-radar designer we somehow weren’t cool enough to have noticed. And in a way, that’s exactly what it is: Prince Ruth is the name of a Brooklyn-based surface design studio run by Zoe Latta, a 24-year-old textile artist and RISD grad whose work is more famous than her pseudonym would suggest.

  10. 04.17.12
    The Making Of
    Philippe Malouin’s Intarsia Bowl for Carwan Gallery

    On Friday we introduced you to Oeuffice’s Ziggurat Towers for the Beirut-based Carwan Gallery, and today it’s the gallery’s contribution from London designer Philippe Malouin, who’s also showing with Plus Design and Kvadrat in Milan this week. Malouin was one of nine designers — along with Karen Chekerdjian, Khalid Shafar, Lindsey Adelman, Studio mischer’traxler, Nada Debs, Oeuffice, Paul Loebach, and Tamer Nakisci — who traveled to the Middle East late last year for a grand tour of artisan’s studios, each pairing up with a different craftsperson to produce a new twist on an old archetype or technique. What caught Malouin’s eye was the wood-inlay method called intarsia, in which pieces of various types of wood are cut and assembled into a jigsaw-puzzle like image or pattern that often has the illusion of depth. Rather than using the method in a conventional way, however — as a decorative add-on — he tried something a little bit different; here, he explains how he arrived at the final design for his Intarsia Bowl.

  11. 03.27.12
    Studio Visit
    Red Hook Design Tour, Part II

    Last week, armed with the new Marc Newson–designed Pentax K-01 digital camera, we popped in on five different design studios in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, taking sneak peeks at work destined both for this past weekend’s Architectural Digest Home Design show and the upcoming New York Design Week. The result is a two-part Red Hook Studio Visit series, the second installation of which debuts today with visits to designers Bec Brittain and Uhuru. Brittain’s studio, where she works alone without the aid of interns or assistants, is inside what can only be called a complex belonging to Rhett Butler of E.R. Butler fame. And while we’d been inside Uhuru’s 10,000-sqft. studio before, we couldn’t come back to Red Hook without a fresh look at what they were up to.

  12. 03.26.12
    Studio Visit
    Red Hook Design Tour

    A subway-less industrial bastion perched halfway down the western coast of Brooklyn, Red Hook is a pain in the ass to get to. But when the weather’s nice, you never want to leave. Last week when we showed up, it was 70 degrees and blindingly sunny, and from all around the warehouse that some of New York’s brightest up-and-coming designers share with Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie, the East River sparkled at us suggestively, with the Statue of Liberty looming not too far in the distance. It was the kind of day that seemed made for boat-spotting, beers, and an impromptu Fairway picnic, and yet we were there for one reason and one reason only: To make a few long-overdue house calls. Armed with the new Pentax K-01 digital camera — designed by Marc Newson with a sleek, Braun-like aesthetic that’s even more striking in person — we popped in on five different design studios in the neighborhood, taking sneak peeks at work destined both for this past weekend’s Architectural Digest Home Design show and the upcoming New York Design Week. The result is a two-part Red Hook Studio Visit series — all shot with the Pentax K-01 — which kicks off today with Liberty Warehouse occupants Fort Standard, Piet Houtenbos, and recent Pratt grads Persico + Dublin. We aren’t professional photographers, but we think the results turned out pretty swell.

  13. 03.22.12
    Studio Visit
    Sarah Applebaum, Artist

    It’s not every day that one of our subjects answers the phone by giddily announcing she’s just opened the mail to find the Legend soundtrack she ordered and proclaiming that 1985 Tom Cruise fantasy flick to be her favorite movie. But then San Francisco artist Sarah Applebaum has always tended to march to the beat of her own drum: Paying no mind when her work meanders back and forth between craft and art, she mostly uses dime-store materials like yarn, papier mâché, and felt. Unlike most crafters, she often turns those materials into three-dimensional symbols plucked from her subconscious. And yet unlike most artists, she’s self-taught with a degree in politics, sells her objects at Jonathan Adler and in her own online shop, moonlights as a personal chef, and isn’t at all goal-oriented when it comes to gallery shows. When Applebaum makes things, alone in her home studio in the Lower Haight, it’s above all for making’s sake.

  14. 03.05.12
    Studio Visit
    Todosomething, Furniture Designers

    Todosomething is a Los Angeles–based design and fabrication studio that specializes in custom furniture and cabinetry with precise, exquisite finishes and subdued color palettes. But in the last few years, as their studio has grown, partners Chad Petersen and Dakota Witzenburg have begun producing their own products as well, which are extensions of their minimal design aesthetic—the ’60s-inflected, powder-coated metal (S)tool, the paint-tipped plywood A(+) Chair, a scorched-pine slab table with spindly steel legs. Between the two practices, which overlap in more than just appearance, they’ve cultivated a reputation as representatives of a certain Modern American style, one influenced by everything from Sol Lewitt to Shaker furniture.

  15. 02.27.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book

    The launch of the first-ever Sight Unseen book — debuting in April as part of the Karlsson’s Vodka Unfiltered project — is just around the corner. Now through Friday, when we’ll go back to business as usual with a story by a brand new Sight Unseen guest contributor, we’re posting sneak peek images and asking our readers to guess who the subject of each photograph might be. Here’s a quote from today’s featured designers, a duo whose colorful Berlin-based fashion line seamlessly incorporates objects like teacups, pillows, and rugs: “I almost always start our prints from photos. I collect structures — for example for the last winter season, we were walking down the street photographing different surfaces from the ground, which gave us ideas for the graphics. Those images were taken out and put together again to create a digital print.”

  16. 02.22.12
    Excerpt: Book
    The Sight Unseen Book

    The launch of the first-ever Sight Unseen book — debuting in early April with a bash co-hosted by Creatures of Comfort and the Karlsson’s Vodka Unfiltered project — is just around the corner. Over the next two weeks, we’re posting sneak peek images and asking our readers to guess who the subject of each photograph might be. Here’s a quote from today’s featured designer: “We both nerd out a lot when it comes to materials. We like finding something new and researching it. For a month we were playing around with shellac. Basically it’s beetle excrement, and when you order it really raw, it comes with beetle parts and bark dust still in it.”

  17. 02.09.12
    Studio Visit
    Correll Correll, Fashion Designers

    You can learn a lot about Daphne and Vera Correll’s clothing line, Correll Correll, just by looking at who they employ: No unpaid interns, for one. When their sunny Chinatown studio is at full production capacity — as it has been in the weeks leading up to their Ecco Domani Award–sponsored Fall/Winter 2012 presentation this Friday — it’s staffed almost entirely by proper assistants. It’s not really fair, Vera reasons, to get by on free labor when the labor itself is what sells the clothes. “They look precious because you can tell we spend a lot of time on them,” she says, pointing to a recent jacket made using one of their signature techniques, where more than 40 different kinds of yarns and vintage fabric strips are woven together into a textile befitting what Vera refers to as a “shepherd from the future.” Each of the jackets takes a day’s work to create, and the sisters can make 30 or 40 such garments in a season. “Our clothes go through so many levels of work, all this sewing and knitting, and people can see that,” she says.

  18. 02.03.12
    Studio Visit
    Emily Counts, Artist

    Portland is a place where, so the saying goes, the ’90s are alive and well. And it may very well be the only place that could have spawned an artist like Emily Counts, who deals with the self-reflective nostalgia of outdated technological innovations once found in her childhood home: dial-up telephones sculpted in porcelain and stoneware, a life-size fax machine, an interactive Mac SE computer made from walnut, casting epoxy, glass, porcelain, copper, and electrical wiring that acts as a two-way mirror after a button is pressed on the keyboard, lighting up the sculpture’s interior. “I’m interested in the mystery of these inventions that we seem to take for granted in our everyday life,” says the 35-year-old Seattle native, who we first spotted on photographer Carlie Armstrong’s blog Work.Place. “For me, there’s a thin line between technology and magic.”

  19. 02.01.12
    The View From Here
    Another Country, Semley, England

    When Paul de Zwart founded Another Country a little over a year ago, the name wasn’t meant to be quite so literal: A small furniture company that focuses on affordably priced, well designed, but not overly trendy wood pieces, Another Country initially wore its Made in the UK status like a badge of honor, crafting small runs by hand using FSC-certified timber from a tiny workshop in the Dorset village of Semley, two hours east of London. De Zwart, who co-founded Wallpaper with Tyler Brûlé in the mid-‘90s, had originally devised the idea for Another Country after searching in vain for an affordable three-legged stool that might fit as well in the country home he was refurbishing as it would in his London flat. The proportions and rounded peg details of the stool De Zwart ended up designing in collaboration with Dominic Parish — a furniture-maker in Semley and now De Zwart’s business partner — eventually informed a 10-piece collection that debuted to fanfare and high praise during 2010’s London Design Festival. Fast-forward to now, and the brand is thriving, having just released a second, more angular furniture series and recently expanded into small goods like pottery, candlesticks, clocks, and desktop accessories. But ask De Zwart where the hub of Another Country’s production now sits, and the answer might surprise you.

  20. 12.21.11
    Sighted
    Okolo Visits Tobias Rehberger’s Studio

    For the team behind the Czech curatorial studio and blog Okolo — Adam Štěch, Jakub Štěch, and Matěj Činčera — their work is informed as much by the fact that they’re based in Prague, with a front-seat view of all things fascinating in Eastern European design, as it is by the fact that they love to travel. Adam Štěch has toured the region documenting amazing modernist homes, one of which he covered for Wallpaper this fall and more of which you’ll see on Sight Unseen in 2012, and the trio recently produced a print magazine devoted entirely to the city of Vienna. They also traveled to Frankfurt in November, visiting a succession of designers’ studios and photographing them for the Okolo website, slotting them in between posts about new work by Tomáš Král and the deconstruction of a Phillips auction catalog. One of our favorites was the studio of artist Tobias Rehberger, known for his striking graphical sensibility and his affinity for design and architecture, recently witnessed in the award-winning series of spaces he created in partnership with Artek; we’ve reposted it here with additional images and text that Adam prepared exclusively for Sight Unseen. Meanwhile, look out for a more extensive collaboration we’re preparing with Okolo for later this winter.

  21. 11.15.11
    Excerpt: Book
    Where They Create, by Paul Barbera

    Because he’s been doing it since he was 16 — when he used his very first camera to shoot the art studio of a friend’s father — documenting the workspaces of creatives is second nature to Australian photographer Paul Barbera. So much so that he can now identify his own memes: piles of rubbish on a table, trash cans, air conditioners, outdated technology. “How many fax machines have I found that are covered in dust but powered up, just in case I get a fax?” laughs Barbera, whose new book Where They Create and three-year-old website of the same name are full of such telling references. Then there are the potted plants, which are perhaps his greatest weakness: “Whether they’re dead, alive, half-alive, someone’s put ashes into them, or the pot’s cracked, I love it — there’s such variation in that stupid little element.” It’s an inexplicable yet undeniable urge that we’re quite familiar with around here, searching for flashes of personality in unexpected details, which is why we felt drawn to Barbera’s work in the first place (he’s a Sight Unseen contributor). It’s also why we decided to excerpt a chapter of his book, the one devoted to the New York–based designers Cmmnwlth, in this post.

  22. 10.28.11
    At Home With
    David Saunders of David David, Fashion Designer and Artist

    If you were somehow unfamiliar enough with the London fashion scene that you’d never encountered the work of David David, née David Saunders, a primer in his background certainly wouldn’t help much. Saunders is best known for a whirlwind rise to prominence that began with a job as head sculptor in YBA Tracey Emin’s studio, stumbled into a fashion line that won him a coveted spot in London’s Fashion East runway show, and now entails an obligatory mention of fans like Kanye West, Agyness Deyn, and M.I.A. each time it comes up in conversation. It’s not that it’s much ado about nothing — we were huge admirers of Saunders’s line by the time we ended up in his flat last February, a block away from our favorite London boutique Darkroom — but all that star power conveys very little about a charmingly blithe collection consisting of a handful of wearable silhouettes festooned with hand-drawn kaleidoscopic graphics, except maybe how he ended up with it in the first place.

  23. 10.25.11
    Up and Coming
    A Drawn Interview with Mieke Meijer

    If you read Sight Unseen often enough, you know that we’re supporters of all things creative, collaborative, and multidisciplinary. Matylda Krzykowski may be known for her curating talents (which we’ve featured here once or twice before), but she’s also a designer and a blogger — in other words, she’s someone who gets as few hours of sleep each week as we do. Being such a like-minded individual, we invited Krzykowski to contribute a guest post for Sight Unseen in a format similar to the one she employs on her own site, Mat and Me: Interviews that invite personalities from the design world to respond to questions with small, charming pencil drawings rather than mere spoken words. She in turn posed the challenge to Mieke Meijer, an Eindhoven-based product designer who recently contributed to the first in a series of projects at the new Depot Basel space, an open-ended design workshop in an old Swiss grain silo for which Krzykowski sits on the curation board. We’d been following Meijer’s work ourselves ever since we spotted her Gravel Plant project in Milan last year, which channels the geometries of industrial buildings into a system of storage modules whose functions are as myriad as their randomized profiles. Posted here is a selection of the drawings she submitted, plus photos that Krzykowski shot while visiting her studio last month.

  24. 09.02.11
    Studio Visit
    Uglycute, Furniture and Interior Designers

    For Uglycute, it all began with a Bruno Matthson knockoff. It was 1999 and Swedish design was having a moment, but not, it seemed to the group’s four fledgling members, for the kinds of edgy experimental crafts and artistic hybrids being made by the emerging scene at the time — Wallpaper magazine and its ilk were still peering into the long shadows of Sweden’s old modernist icons. And so architecture grad Fredrik Stenberg and artists Jonas Nobel, Andreas Nobel, and Markus Degerman vented their frustration in the only way they knew how: by mounting a show around a sarcastic simulacrum of Matthson’s Eva chair made from a clunky particle-board box and cheap nylon straps. Complemented by a set of primitive clay pinch pots and a crude plywood table, the installation served as a launch pad for the group, and its subject matter — elevating cheap materials in order to question traditional norms of beauty and value — lent their firm its distinctive name. “It was meant as a new take on formalistic values,” says Nobel, who with the other three partners has since built a thriving practice known for its work with museums and clients like Cheap Monday.

  25. 07.15.11
    Excerpt: Magazine
    David Lynch’s workshop in The Chronicle #2

    It wouldn’t be totally wrongheaded to view The Chronicle — a new biannual publication produced by the cultish Copenhagen ready-to-wear brand Rützou — as a fashion designer’s mood board, come to life. For each issue, the creative team — which consists of Rützou’s designer, founder, and namesake Suzanne; her husband, creative director Peter Bundegaard; and editor-in-chief Frederik Bjerregaard — selects a thematic framework and then collates together visual inspiration to support it. Called “Poetic Realism,” the first issue was abstract and moody, with photographic essays on pattern or urban decay and collages of the magazines’ own diverse inspirations, including Luigi Colani, Matthew Barney, Ernst Haeckel, melancholy, and a Mott Street acupuncturist in New York’s Chinatown. The latest issue, called Sense and Sensibility, more literally serves as a scrapbook for creative inspiration: “Sketches, abstractions in watercolor, visual logbooks, black-and-white imagery, personal portraits, simple doodles, this vast collection is a glimpse into a range of international artists’ creative processes and their final work,” the team writes. By international artists, they mean the likes of Marc Newson, Julie Verhoeven, and David Lynch, who offers a glimpse into his Parisian printmaking lair in the excerpt we’ve reprinted today on Sight Unseen.

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