As curatorial hunter-gatherers, we’re always on the lookout for new and unseen talents, and there’s no better place to spot them than at school thesis shows. But as workaholics who seldom have time to leave our home offices, much less attend these shows, they all too often remain off-limits to us. It’s a rare yet celebrated occasion any time we’re either sent a clear, comprehensive accounting of projects by graduating students, or become aware of a website that successfully catalogs them. Last week, we received an email from Parsons with just such a treat — the new multi-disciplinary Parsons thesis site, part of the two-year old Parsons Festival which flings open the doors of the school to the public each May for three weeks of exhibitions, workshops, and fashion shows. Grateful to have access to the event’s couch-potato version, we sifted through all the projects on the site and found the six we liked best: humorously cloying photographs of weird dollar-store finds by Antonia Basler, a series of poured-concrete side tables made in fabric molds by Isaac Friedman-Heiman, dresses that pay homage to Muybridge and Noguchi by Kaoru Oshima, photos by Charlie Rubin that blur the line between the real and the artificial, and minimalist versus maximalist origami garments by Yingshi June Lin and Si Lu. Have a look at the slideshow here, which is annotated with selections from the students’ thesis statements, then clear your calendar for next May so you’ll have no excuse not to join us at next year’s festival.
At 8:15 AM on Monday, May 21, I heard it in my sleep: thunder, really loud thunder, loud enough to wake me up and send me flying to the window in a panic. The Noho Design District's 22 Bond space had shown signs of roof leakage during setup earlier that week, and with torrential downpours seeming imminent, I threw on shoes and glasses and rushed meet Jill at the space to begin damage control. Thus went the day, as we scrambled to clean up puddles and position buckets underneath the growing indoor deluge, our dreams of making it to the rest of New York Design Week's offsite shows slipping away from us by the hour. We'd seen Wanted Design and Matter the day before, but as fate would have it, there would be no Boffo Show House for us this year, nor would we make it to Model Citizens, despite a valiant effort which saw us sprinting up the stairs of the venue fifteen minutes before the show was scheduled to close, only to find that almost everyone had packed up early. Luckily the American Design Club's Raw + Unfiltered exhibition at Heller Gallery — part two of the Karlsson's Unfiltered project — remained on view later that week, so we paid it a belated visit. (The Boffo house is up through June 4, though as of press time we hadn't been able to get there quite yet; ditto for the Herman Miller pop-up shop, on until July 1.) Next year, if they haven't quite perfected cloning technology just yet, we at least hope to nip this problem in the bud with a more foolproof modern invention: interns.
Last week, the editors of Sight Unseen toured the former Cooper Square Hotel, which is in the process of blossoming into a gorgeously rendered East Village branch of the Standard. We met with the organizers of Wanted Design to talk about New York Design Week, and a planned alliance between offsite shows including the American Design Club, Model Citizens, and our Noho Design District. We had an ungodly amount of $1 oysters, bought a new pair of Warby Parker glasses, and got into a glaring match with an Apple Genius Bar employee who refused to replace a power adapter that had met an untimely death. What we did not do, however, was attend Stockholm Design Week — we stayed put this year while our friends braved jetlag and below-freezing temperatures to experience the annual unveiling of all things new in Scandinavian design. And yet rather than totally miss out on all the action, we found a willing scout who, while she preferred to remain anonymous for various reasons, was happy to report back on the goings-on in and around the fair — all with a Sight Unseen slant, of course.
We may have spent most of our New York Design Week(end) tending to the most successful Noho Design District ever — wrap-up post coming soon! — but this year we were determined to see as much of everyone else's presentations as possible, including spending more time walking the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits, checking in with old friends while discovering new talents. And since Roll & Hill opted not to reprise the bar they plopped in the middle of the fair last year, plying us with beers and chips as we charged our phones and completely lost track of time, we were able to do a relatively thorough sweep before racing back out into the sunshine again. We started out just snapping products we loved, but then couldn't resist adding a Sight Unseen twist, so we asked some of the more adventurous designers and brand ambassadors to strike a pose with one of their new pieces — which turned out to be a welcome break from the tedium of spending one's days doing business inside a windowless convention center. See our highlights here, then stay tuned for our roundup of this year's offsite shows.