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London Accessories Designer Ejing Zhang

Growing up in China, designer Ejing Zhang was fascinated by traditional calligraphy and ink painting — art forms that are both fine and expressive, requiring a fluid interaction with brush and ink. Zhang is now based in London, but at the heart of her work is the same sensitivity to materials that she observed growing up. Four years ago, while studying at the Royal College of Art, she developed a new technique for creating work that involved taking spalted beech wood (partially decayed wood that has a marble-like pattern), wrapping it with colored thread, and casting it in resin, before sanding and polishing it to reveal its beautiful cross-sections.

Portuguese Designer Célia Esteves of GUR Rugs

While Portugal is probably best known, these days, for manufacturing clothing and shoes for big brands like COS, Zara, and Camper — or if you're a product designer, for supplying 50% of the world's cork — Porto-based designer and printmaker Célia Esteves homed in on its longtime flat-weave rug-making tradition when she founded GUR two years ago. After meeting a weaver in her hometown of Viana de Castelo, who for 15 years had been handcrafting the style of rug that she'd seen on "every Portuguese kitchen floor" since she was a child, Esteves decided to hire the weaver to use the same technique to produce colorful limited-edition designs commissioned from illustrators she knew and admired, like Atelier Bingo and Ferreol Babin. We recently interviewed Esteves about the project, which has collabs with Après Ski and Reality Studio on the way; scroll down to read more about how she transformed a local craft into a contemporary design brand.
polyspolia_3_photo darek fortas

The Top 5 Designers at RCA’s 2015 Graduate Show

It’s graduate show season in London, and though we’ll be featuring students from all over town in the coming weeks, we’ve found over the years that no show is quite as spectacular — or up our alley — as the Royal College of Art’s. With its esteemed alumni including the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Thomas Heatherwick, Tracey Emin, and David Hockney — not to mention some of our favorite contemporary designers, such as Max Lamb, Hunting & Narud, Soft Baroque, Fredrik Paulsen, and Hilda Hellström — Show RCA always boasts an impressive arsenal of postgraduate talent across a variety of disciplines.
Mattes makes the slices to order — “you can tell me what toppings you want” — and jokes about creating a webshop “that’s almost like the Domino’s Tracker, where people can see what state their pizza’s in.” She plans to keep making them, but she’s also “interested in creating some other small-scale object weavings that aren’t necessarily pizza.”

Portland Textile Artist Kayla Mattes

Kayla Mattes’ tapestries are an antidote to the disconnection and depersonalization that spending hours online can sometimes leave you feeling. Her work is plugged in to all the technology we take for granted but she recontextualizes it, slows it down, and the effect is immersive, dizzying, a little chaotic, and oddly comforting.
To the left of this painting are gradations Bittman made in Photoshop while working on embroideries in a similar vein. “I’m interested in how something that appears like a smooth gradation becomes broken down into concrete parts. In those examples I’m just using Photoshop as a tool to make that jump. In the embroideries I did, I came up with my own system of doing that by hand.”

Samantha Bittman, Artist

It was a couple of years ago that Chicago-based artist Samantha Bittman first captivated us with her intricate, meticulous paintings on woven textiles. We’ve been transfixed by her work ever since, so when we had the chance recently to visit her studio and delve into her process, we jumped. Bittman creates dazzling surfaces of optically challenging patterns that draw you in to reveal greater depths, dimensionality, and unsteadying shifts in perspective. There’s an objective, mathematical precision to her pieces but there’s also a remarkably human warmth — the result, perhaps, of giving in to the parameters created by the loom while also resisting them.
Blackman Cruz MacArthur Candlesticks 2

Week of April 13, 2015

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: While the international design community (including Jill and Monica) convened in Milan for the Salone del Mobile, we put Ryland on the case to round up a few of his favorite finds, ranging from the dark, moody objects of Blackman Cruz at Wright (pictured above) to a Technicolor Instagram account involving pool noodles and sneakers.

Dusen Dusen Home

The past few years have proven that — every once in a while — a fashion label can make a successful, mostly non-embarrassing crossover into furniture and housewares. Margiela, Hermès, and Rick Owens all come to mind, but who better than a textile designer to make the leap? At last week's Capsule show, Ellen Van Dusen of the Brooklyn-based clothing brand Dusen Dusen launched a brand new line of soft goods for the home that feature her signature geometric patterns — sheets, blankets, rugs, towels, pillows, and a pouf — and the extension feels totally natural, like it was meant to be. Today she's giving Sight Unseen a first peek at the line's lookbook photos, which were shot by SU contributor Brian Ferry and feature cameos by both SNL comedian Aidy Bryant and Van Dusen's official canine mascot, Snips.
Costumes have also been a big part of Cave Collective’s performances — this is an example of many ideas for those costumes layered on top of each other, including a thick shawl made from strips of dyed cotton and Icelandic wool that Lauigan plans to explore further during the hiatus. “I’d like to do collections of one-of-a-kind shawls and install them as art pieces on a wall,” she says.

Cave Collective, Artists

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.

Week of February 9, 2015

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week, the humble accent table takes on many forms: an iridescent I-beam, a rug-wrapped hexagon, and a charred-wood square with a hairy interior void.

New Textiles by Alyson Fox for Ferm Living

When we profiled the designer and artist Alyson Fox last year, on a visit to the home she and her husband built themselves in the wilds of Texas, we spent much of the story marveling at the sheer, unrelenting range and volume of her creative output. Which is to say: We could theoretically be writing about some new project of hers every week if we wanted to — she's just that prolific. We won't go there, of course, yet when of-the-moment Danish housewares brand Ferm Living offered to let us be the first to share the new line it's done in collaboration with Fox, in advance of revealing its full 2015 collection to the world tomorrow, we figured it was as good a time as any to check in with the talent.
Campaign for Oyyo shot in the Manvar Desert of Rajasthan.
Photo: David Magnusson /

Oyyo, Swedish Textile Designers

Lina Zedig and Marcus Åhrén, of the Stockholm-based studio Oyyo, take a best-of-both-worlds approach to their work. If Zedig is the self-described perfectionist who obsesses over color and composition, Åhrén is the “action person, always keen to get new projects going and thinking that everything is possible.” For their first collection, which launched in 2013, they employed age-old techniques to craft flat-weave dhurries, but imbued the familiar form with unexpected geometric and architectural patterns. And while their carpets — in combinations of pastel pinks, yellows, and oranges, deep blues, greens, and black — have a cozy, at-home feel, they also reflect the restless, roving spirit in which Åhrén and Zedig, avid travelers, created them. It’s design for settling in, not settling down.

Mathieu Julien and Jin Angdoo of Amateurs

For all its perks — freedom, travel, never having to take off your pajamas — the freelance life has one perpetual drawback: the panic that starts to creep in whenever you're between jobs. Add that to the sense of creative fulfillment that every designer and artist craves, and it's no wonder so many of them start their own projects on the side. For the Paris-based couple Mathieu Julien and Jin Angdoo, whenever they don't have work as a freelance illustrator (Julien) and a film and animation director (Angdoo), they dream up new projects to release under the extra-wide umbrella of their shared endeavor, Amateurs; launched in June, the website comprises projects that are experimental, hand-crafted, and fall somewhere between art and design, like painted tea towels and flags, embroidered sweaters and blankets, plus actual paintings as well. We checked in with the duo to find out more about the collaboration.