Tag Archives: textiles

  1. 03.08.13
    Eye Candy
    The Design Center, Philadelphia

    Swatch out! The Design Center at Philadelphia University houses over 200,000 textiles and fashion objects. A sliver of this massive archive is now available for all to see via The Design Center tumblr. It’s striking how contemporary many of these prints look, the designs from the late 1880s are often the most eccentric/in vogue. Take a look at these selections, featuring prints of many styles and eras, along with Dorothy Liebes and Jack Lerner Larson wovens.

  2. 01.29.13
    Self Portrait
    Meg Callahan’s Caddo Quilt

    Earlier this month, Jamie Gray of New York’s Matter was named a “game-changer” for his patronage role in the American design scene, and we’ve got to give the man his credit. Though we pride ourselves on unearthing emerging talents in design, it was Gray who introduced us to Meg Callahan, the recent RISD grad whose coolly geometric, midcentury-meets-Ma Walton quilts were released through Mattermade, his in-house furniture line, last spring. Callahan quickly became one of our favorites, for the way she mixes the traditional with the new, alternating hand-stitching with machine-quilting, color-blocking with digital printing. “I started making quilts because I really like the aesthetic nature of things, but I also like figuring out how things are made,” Callahan says. “A quilt is a functional, 3-D object but it’s also 2-D, a composition of color blocks; you have to figure out the math of how to construct it. The combination of the two intrigued me.” When she approached us with a series of images she shot back home in Oklahoma of her new Caddo quilt — well, we’d have been crazy if we didn’t publish them and get the story behind their making.

  3. 01.22.13
    What They Bought
    Mociun, Brooklyn

    Caitlin Mociun may have been the author of a cult-hit fashion line for only a few years, but the lessons she learned from that stint — about the way she wants a customer to feel, or about the way a body moves in space — inform nearly everything she does today. That first becomes clear when she talks about her massively successful fine jewelry line, which she launched almost as a palliative to her days as a clothing designer. “I never really liked doing my clothing line, and when I switched to jewelry it was such a different response,” Mociun told me earlier this fall when I visited her year-old Williamsburg boutique. “It seemed to make people feel good about themselves as opposed to clothing, which often makes people feel bad.” But it’s when she talks about her boutique that you realize that nothing in the shop could be the way it is if Mociun weren’t first a designer.

  4. 11.16.12
    Peer Review
    Caroline Achaintre on Arcademi

    The biggest reason why we love our new Peer Review column: because it lets us heap mountains of credit onto blogs like Arcademi — the source of more of our “holy shit” moments than almost any other site — while giving us good reason to borrow their content. Namely, the opportunity to hear their subjects wax poetic about things like hairy tufting and multiple personalities, like today’s subject, Caroline Achaintre. We were lucky enough to convince Arcademi editor Moritz Firchow to interview the London-based artist, who trained as a blacksmith before finding her way to a multidisciplinary practice inspired by the way German expressionism, post-war British sculpture, and Primitivism merge influences from both ancient and modern culture.

  5. 10.25.12
    What They Bought
    We’re Revolting at Creatures of Comfort LA

    Is it every blogger’s secret wish to go into retail? This year alone, we’ve seen Sight Unseen’s own Shape Shop, Rhiannon Gilmore’s Dream Shop at the Walker, and as of this Saturday, Su Wu of I’m Revolting’s pop-up at Creatures of Comfort LA, entitled We’re Revolting. Perhaps it’s inevitable that we would all want to touch and feel and hold the objects we covet from afar, and to make tangible the narrative we create every day. But maybe it’s just as simple as this: “It’s kind of lonely being a blogger,” Wu says. “And this was a reason to get to know people. It’s kind of a scary thing: You think, ok, I admire their work, but will I actually get along with them? But in fact, I’m still kind of basking in it.”

  6. 10.15.12
    Sighted
    Reineke Otten’s World Skin Color scarves

    The New York International Gift Fair happens twice a year. And while Sight Unseen is hardly your typical product blog — and the fair notoriously focused on sales, not press — we often find ourselves roaming the aisles anyway, if only because it’s easy to catch up with so many people we know in one place. This year, we bumped into an old friend — but even if we hadn’t known her, we would have stalked her until she agreed to meet us for coffee on the basis of the incredibly gorgeous product she was hawking. The designer was Reineke Otten (who we first met in Rotterdam three years ago and who’s responsible for turning us on to amazing talents like Raw Color and Danielle Van Ark) and the product was Otten’s World Skin Color scarves, which translate an Excel spreadsheet worth of data about global complexion tones into beautiful square silk scarves, one for each country around the world. (That’s Bosnia, above.)

  7. 09.27.12
    Sighted
    Isabel Wilson on Freunde Von Freunden

    There must have been something in the air back in 2009, because Freunde Von Freunden, the Berlin-based website whose voyeuristic, photography-based interviews are of a piece with our own obsessions (i.e. barging in on people’s home and workplaces and showing ourselves around) — started just a few weeks before Sight Unseen’s launch at the end of that year. “We never look for apartments but for people,” they say, and that’s always been our mission as well — to get at the personality behind the product, and the narrative behind each new release. To that end, since we introduced you last week to Isabel Wilson’s textile and jewelry line with Chen Chen — and considering we’ve more than covered her partner in crime — we figured it was high time to get to know the RISD grad’s incredible,intricate work. Luckily FvF beat us to it, with a gorgeously photographed editorial by photographer Brian Ferry, which appeared on the site just last month, and which we’re excerpting on Sight Unseen today.

  8. 09.20.12
    Sighted
    Reed / Chen: New work by Isabel Wilson & Chen Chen

    Isabel Wilson and Chen Chen have only been friends since May, but creatively you could easily see how they might have been separated at birth. Wilson, a RISD-trained textile designer who has done work for brands like Tucker and West Elm, creates digital prints by photographing objects and patterns — like close-ups of butterfly wings or details of her own paintings — and manipulating them in Photoshop, rescaling and warping each one into something abstract. Chen, a Pratt graduate who cut his teeth working for Moss, has built a brand based around a series of objects that reconstitute studio crap as beautiful objects, like resin-based coasters or cement bookends with stone scraps bulging from their triangular forms. In other words, says Chen, “We both work in layers to create abstract patterns from very common everyday source material.” It was only a matter of time, then, before they found an outlet for their collaborative efforts.

  9. 07.20.12
    Sighted
    Wing Yau of WWAKE on Muse & Maker

    At the beautiful new online journal Muse & Maker, UK-based graphic designer Emily Forgot indulges in some of our favorite pastimes: digging up gems on Etsy, surveying the world’s coolest shops, interviewing makers about their crafts, asking creatives to tell stories about their keepsakes, and spotlighting all manner of amazing handcrafted objects. We RSSed the site the minute we heard about it through our friend Bec Brittain, who was profiled there last month; considering how complementary our tastes are, we knew it was only a matter of time before Forgot turned her attentions to another designer who was near and dear to us. Enter Wing Yau of the jewelry line WWAKE, a RISD grad who approached us for a collaboration this past winter and ended up with two dip-dyed necklaces for sale exclusively in our online shop. Forgot interviewed Yau — whose work we love because of the way it manages to make something as rough and primitive as hand-knotted rope look so modern — about her working habits, her favorite spot in Vancouver, and her childhood immersion in South American crafts. Check out our excerpt of the Muse & Maker interview here, then pick up your own WWAKE necklace in the Sight Unseen shop!

  10. 07.16.12
    Excerpt: Magazine
    Clemence Seilles in PIN-UP #12

    Berlin’s many charms are hardly lost on your editors. After a sunny, weeklong trip five summers ago, we both fell in love with the German capital — the wide open spaces, the well-situated swimming pools, the way clubbing unfolds as an actually enjoyable activity. But while my partner in crime has returned to the German capital each consecutive summer, I’ve never been able to find the time to go back. This summer, then, I was lucky enough to visit by proxy through the eyes of Felix Burrichter and his staff of Berlinophiles over at PIN-UP Magazine, which devoted its entire Spring/Summer issue to the changing metropolis. “For very long, Berlin was this one thing: You went when you had no money,” says Burrichter, who serves as both editor and creative director of the architecture biannual. “But there’s a cultural elite — a moneyed elite — that has developed there over the past 10 years. Mostly people from out of town or in the art world. So there’s an interesting friction right now. When that moneyed elite takes over, the city will lose a lot of its charm. But right now it still feels very raw and budding.” The issue was in some ways a homecoming — Burrichter grew up in Düsseldorf — but in the end, the Berlin depicted in the magazine’s pages bears more of a resemblance to Burrichter’s adopted home in New York. “What fascinates me about Berlin right now is that it’s very international,” he says; hence the features run to a British architect who recently remade the city’s Neues Museum (David Chipperfield), a West African transplant (Francis Kéré), and Clémence Seilles, a Frenchwoman who arrived in Berlin with a singular goal — to assist in the studio of designer Jerszy Seymour — and who never left. We’ve been fans of Seilles’ work for some time now, and her conversation in the magazine with fellow Sight Unseen friend Matylda Krzykowski was too good to confine to print. Burrichter has graciously allowed us to excerpt it today on Sight Unseen.

  11. 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.

  12. 06.27.12
    Studio Visit
    Jennifer Parry Dodge of Ermie

    Jennifer Parry Dodge is a Los Angeles–based designer, whose beautifully printed textiles are often the result of photographs or scans of vintage textiles that have been manipulated in Photoshop. Her online store Ermie, named after a great-aunt Ermengarde who encouraged her creativity, encompasses a collection of works ranging from braided embroidered belts to watery cool crepe de chine garments made from her own textile creations. In addition to creating textiles, she maintains a blog that documents her transforming fascinations with color, textures, food, the desert, and her trips abroad. The first time I met Jennifer over coffee in downtown Los Angeles, I was immediately struck by the intensity of the colors in her work — colors that vibrated in the California sun, and intensified as the sun grew stronger. “Each pattern or print that I design has a history, however brief, of how it came to be. I’m sure the meaning for me differs from that of the viewer/ wearer/ user, but I hope some of the story comes through,” she says.

  13. 06.22.12
    Peer Review
    Ace&Jig on Intelligent Clashing

    You might be a devoted fan of Rhiannon Gilmore’s work without even knowing it; you might even look at it every day. And yet on the off chance that you actually know who she is — the force behind the four-year-old inspiration blog Intelligent Clashing — did you also know that she’s both an artist and a writer? Intelligent Clashing belongs to that universe of curated image blogs that provide a steady stream of visual inspiration for creatives, but whose editors rarely express themselves in words. Rarer still are the moments when we see them exploring their fascination with a certain image by engaging with its maker. In that missing link, we here at Sight Unseen saw an opportunity: Why not give these bloggers a platform for mounting small investigations into subjects that had recently caught their fancy? Every Friday (or so) for our new column Peer Review, we’ll ask the curator of an inspiration blog to pick a recent post from their site and ask the featured artist, or else an expert on the topic at hand, three questions of their choosing. Our first participant is Gilmore herself, who relished the opportunity to interview the New York fashion duo ace&jig, who left behind their role as founders of LaROK to start a label based on hand-woven textiles and vintage influences.

  14. 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.

  15. 11.10.11
    Shop
    Sight Unseen Goes Retail

    When we started this website two years ago today, we had no idea we’d end up here — debuting a webshop stocked with jewelry and other wearable objects, often designed exclusively for us and frequently one of a kind, all created by some of the most exciting designers and artists we’ve had the pleasure of working with. And yet we couldn’t be more proud of this development. Today we launch the Sight Unseen Shop, an online retail space that’s been months in the making as we worked tirelessly behind the scenes, hashing out the contributors, figuring what amazing wares they’d sell with us, and how it might best be presented online (thanks Studio Lin!). Inspired by the success of our pop-up during this year’s Noho Design District, we set about assembling a group of designers who were using — or interested in using — jewelry as a way to experiment with techniques and materials, and who didn’t necessarily have a platform by which to sell those experiments. While we may be biased, the results, we think, are stunning.

  16. 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.

  17. 10.05.11
    Q+A
    Misaki Kawai, Artist

    Misaki Kawai’s work is insane. In a good way. When Sweden’s LOYAL gallery sent us these images from her new solo show, “Wet Shiny Surprise,” we were taken with their use of geometry and pattern — not to mention their resemblance to Memphis design — but we had no idea the Japanese-born, New York–based artist also made paintings of weightlifting robots, surfing octopuses, and people pooping in the woods. What unites all of Kawai’s art, from the beautiful to the bizarre, is her talent for blending childlike imagery with absurdist humor, a quality she suspects might have something to do with spending her childhood in Osaka, the center of Japan’s comedy scene. But to the extent that her pieces seem like windows onto a strange and addictive parallel world, she gets most of her inspiration from navigating this one: After a post-graduate trip to Turkey, Nepal, and Thailand left her “greatly influenced by handmade dolls, textiles, and low-quality manufactured objects,” Kawai began traveling regularly, collecting both physical and experiential scraps and incorporating them into her paintings and sculptures. When we interviewed her for this story, she had just finished opening the show at LOYAL and had moved on to Beijing and Mongolia, where she was riding camels and investigating the local dress. What she’ll do with that fodder, we can only imagine.

  18. 09.21.11
    The Back Room
    Antwerp’s Mode Museum

    If Antwerp’s Mode Museum (MoMu) is desperately seeking a second storage space for its growing permanent collection, at least part of the blame falls on Bernard Willhelm. He may donate his designs each season alongside the likes of Dries van Noten, Martin Margiela, and his onetime mentor Walter van Beirendonck, but inside the museum’s existing archive rooms — which Sight Unseen had the exclusive privilege of touring earlier this year — it’s Willhelm who clearly holds the record for overflowing racks. In fact, MoMu’s curation team rarely turns down a donation from a legitimate source, whether for the historical collection it originally inherited from an old provincial textile museum or for its cache of contemporary fashions by talents born or educated in Antwerp, but Willhelm’s contributions are so generous that the day we visited, there were clothes waiting to be graciously returned to his showroom. It’s not difficult to understand the designer’s enthusiasm, though, or that of his peers: The MoMu’s prestige in Europe far exceeds its diminutive size, and since it opened a decade ago, it’s become the largest repository in the world for contemporary Belgian fashion.

  19. 08.31.11
    Material
    Climbing Rope

    Because they spend their lives under car hoods, or between walls, or tucked inside backpacks, most industrial or utilitarian materials are purpose-built without any consideration for aesthetics. The people who engineer these materials get paid to make them perform well, not look pretty; when one of them gains crossover appeal, it’s usually either by happy accident or a general shift in perception — the pendulum of culture swinging back, as it has recently, to a fervor for all things mundane and overlooked. Yet if climbing rope suddenly feels just as relevant in galleries and high-end fashion boutiques as it does strapped to a harness, enforcing the border between life and death, the reasons are obvious: it’s cheap, it’s durable, it has built-in visual interest, and the same vibrant color combinations that assure its visibility on a mountainside render it irresistible to designers and artists. When we first noticed how many of them were making climbing rope a core part of their practice — from Proenza Schouler to Stephen Burks to the artist Orly Genger, who often use it to play with notions of high art vs. low — we decided to launch a new column called “Material” that quite simply tracks an unconventional material’s appearances throughout multiple disciplines in the visual arts.

  20. 08.25.11
    8 Things
    Jade Lai, Owner, Creatures of Comfort

    If you ever have the privilege of chatting up Jade Lai, who owns the bicoastal cult fashion emporium Creatures of Comfort, don’t be surprised if she tells you that, after returning from a trip to Morocco last year with no less than 15 carpets in tow, she was struck by the notion that she could totally see herself in the rug business. And when this is followed by the revelation that she’s looking to expand the Creatures of Comfort brand to encompass food, or that she’s been taking pottery classes, or that she hopes to run a bed and breakfast sometime soon, resist the urge to raise an eyebrow — these may sound like the ramblings of a dilettante, but make no mistake, Lai is both hyper-creative and legitimately driven. Consider, for example, the year she spent working as a product developer for Esprit in her native Hong Kong: She took the job after having graduated with an architecture degree, freelanced as a graphic designer, and started her own stationery line in L.A., but proceeded to become so good at it that she could eventually identify a fabric’s contents by touch alone — a useful skill for someone who now designs Creatures of Comfort’s in-house fashion line, and one that would certainly come in handy for any aspiring carpet slinger.

  21. 08.03.11
    Studio Visit
    Shanan Campanaro of Eskayel, Wallpaper and Textile Designer

    Had you visited eskayel.com back in 2004, when Shanan Campanaro was still an art student at Central Saint Martins in London, you would have seen a very different site from the one posted at that address today. That’s because the whimsical high-end wallpaper and fabric company Campanaro now runs out of her studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was once a homespun t-shirt label she started with a college friend, featuring the booze- and boyfriend-related escapades of a comic-book character she’d invented. “My tutors at Saint Martins encouraged me to get really honest,” she explains of the project. “It was right when all the YBAs were coming out and Tracey Emin won a Turner Prize making personal quilts — that’s what everyone was into.” For her, the original Eskayel was like one entry in a diary that’s seen the San Diego native reinvent herself several times over the years, from her childhood as the science-obsessed daughter of the bodybuilder who founded Total Gym, to her switch from physics to fine art while studying abroad in Italy, to her time as a graphic designer for the shopping-mall staple Express. In Campanaro’s case, it’s turned out to be more about the destination than the journey.

  22. 07.07.11
    Studio Visit
    Doshi Levien, Product and Furniture Designers

    If you’d expect anyone to spend their days working amidst a snowdrift’s worth of process and ephemera, it’s London designers Doshi Levien. What you see piled atop the shelves and pinned to the walls of the couple’s Shoreditch studio, after all, is the product of two very different yet equally prolific minds working through their own approaches to the same tasks — Nipa Doshi being the Bombay-born lover of handicraft who collages, paints, and draws her way towards ideas from the ground up, and her Scottish husband Jonathan Levien, who spent his childhood in his parents’ toy factory and developed the more exacting methods of an industrial designer, prototyping proclivities and all. While both enjoy surrounding themselves with collected objects like Italian ice cream cups and Chinese pencil boxes, it’s impossible to understate the importance of the couple’s divergent interests to their work’s unique point of view; the designs that made them famous, after all, were daybeds and sofas for Moroso that combined industrially produced furnishings with hand-embroidery and textiles sourced from Indian artisans. It would be a cliché way of characterizing the pair if it weren’t so overwhelmingly true, even by their own admission: “After ten years of working together, I see it as an essential ingredient in what we do, almost a layer in the approach without which it would feel naked,” says Levien.

  23. 06.30.11
    Studio Visit
    Kneeland Co

    If you’ve ever spent an afternoon gazing out the window, futilely hoping that design inspiration might strike, you’ve probably wished you knew someone like Joanna Williams. As the proprietor of Kneeland Co., a Los Angeles–based, appointment-only studio that sources vintage prints, textiles, garments, and jewelry for the fashion and interiors industries, it’s Williams’s job to scour the globe, bringing back creative inspiration for sale. In Williams’s world, a book of early 20th-century decorative medallions, snagged from Pasadena’s legendary Rose Bowl Flea Market, might serve as inspiration for a new tile pattern, and the striped detail from a Moroccan wedding blanket might one day mutate into a maxidress for Anthropologie. As glamorous a life as that might sound, Williams concedes that it’s still a lot of hard work: “You’re definitely always searching and looking, trying to meet the right people, and making sure you don’t get ripped off,” she told me when I visited her new Atwater Village studio earlier this month.

  24. 06.23.11
    Q+A
    Irene Alvarez, Artist

    Antwerp’s Irene Alvarez was a sculptor and recent Royal Academy art grad when she got the call from the cult concept shop Ra — the city’s version of Opening Ceremony — asking her to design a custom installation. But it was the far less glamorous moment that came next that has since marked a pivotal moment in her nascent career: She discovered the Netherlands’ Textile Museum Tilburg, which is not only a museum but also an experimental production lab where creatives can apply for technical assistance on machines capable of knitting, embroidering, lasering, printing, tufting, dyeing, and weaving almost anything the mind can conceive. Despite having no previous experience with textiles, she collaborated with the museum on the half-woven Inti Altar sculpture that’s held court on Ra’s second floor for the last two years, and she’s been addicted to the furry medium ever since. Today marks the opening of her first solo show, at Belgium’s other hallowed retail emporium, Hunting and Collecting, and it demonstrates just how far Alvarez has come in her obsession with knits — it contains no traditional sculpture at all, only a textile teepee (above), a line of t-shirts, and a series of three tapestries woven with a psychedelic clash of pop-culture icons and op-art patterning. Sight Unseen recently spoke with the artist about her work with the museum and the ethnic influences behind her imagery.

  25. 06.17.11
    Q+A
    With Matylda Krzykowski, Designer and Curator of The Clash Project

    By now we’re used to furniture designers making art, artists making furniture, and every possible variation along that spectrum. But in 2009, when three of her friends started the Fashion Clash festival in her hometown of Maastricht, the Netherlands, designer and blogger Matylda Krzykowski was convinced her colleagues outside the fashion industry might have something to contribute. She rounded up 10 furniture, textile, and graphic designers and asked them to modify their work for the catwalk — in most cases having no idea what they would come up with until the final “outfit” was delivered to her door. The first year, artist Tanja Ritterbex donned a glittery pink Barbie dress and asked to be rolled down the catwalk while she waved at the audience like Queen Elizabeth. The second year, a designer-artist couple from London created a massive, wearable Tyvek tote bag and requested it be modeled by an old man. And for the 2011 show, presented last weekend, one of the designers encased her model in a mountainous wooden cake, with only her head poking out at the summit — in other words, nothing you wouldn’t expect to see at an actual fashion show. We asked Krzykowski to tell us a little bit more about the project and about five selections from this year’s collection which are shown here, alongside the participant’s usual work.

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