The photographs in Rachel Hulin’s Flying Series, in which her baby Henry appears to float in the landscape, have a dreamy, almost magical quality to them, but they started in the most pedestrian of ways: Hulin was kind of bored. A new mom who’d recently relocated from Brooklyn to Providence, Rhode Island, she says, “I was looking for a project to sink my teeth into while I was home with Henry when he was so little. I was trying figure out motherhood and the whole thing seemed so weird to me.” A former blogger and photo editor who’d spent the better part of nine years constantly looking at pictures, she was aware of a genre of photos called “floaters” and was interested in the figure in landscape as well — “finding a beautiful scene and somehow making it more personal by putting someone you love in it,” she says. She never expected to do a floating series of her own, but once she did one photo, she was kind of hooked. “Partly it was being in a new city, trying to find special places with a baby,” she says. “It was a nice thing to do together. It became what we did in the afternoons.”
Hulin first stuck close to home; she lives with her husband and Henry in a 100-year-old former seltzer bottle factory, which offered plenty of fodder. But eventually they ventured out into the world: the RISD library, a barn in Vermont, her in-laws’ house in Long Island. Though she was typically reluctant to post pictures of Henry on Facebook, she began uploading them to gauge crowd reaction. Her friends went nuts over them; one of those friends just happened to be a photo editor at Time. After they went up on Time’s photography blog, the photos went completely viral. (A conversation by phone with Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb on The Today Show was one of the more surreal moments.)
“The pictures went up on Time at a point when the project was still very new to me and very partially formed,” says Hulin. “I didn’t want Henry to become an internet meme. It felt sad to me that it would become a hit on Buzzfeed and nothing more. So I started to think about how I could use the Internet attention for good and not evil. I pitched it around a little bit, and PowerHouse Books was into the idea of making it into a children’s book. I may have stopped making them or made a few more at that point but instead the project took on this whole new life.”
Flying Henry came out earlier this year, and in this slideshow, Hulin shows us how she took it from a personal project to a children’s book that’s already sold out its first run. Of the response she’s had, she says, “Kids liked it; they were super into the narrative and totally accepted that a baby would fly. One kid asked Henry how he made his daddy disappear, which I thought was very high concept.” As for her own son, she says: “Henry totally doesn’t ask for the book. I think he’s more into schoolbuses.”
Kwangho Lee fancies himself a simple man. The 29-year-old grew up on a farm in South Korea watching his mother knit clothes and his grandfather make tools with his bare hands, which ultimately became the inspirations behind his work. He values nostalgia and rejects greed, and more like a craftsman than a designer, he prefers sculpting and manipulating ordinary materials to engineering the precise outcome of an object. “I dream of producing my works like a farmer patiently waiting to harvest the rice in autumn after planting the seed in spring,” he muses on his website. It all starts to sound a bit trite, but then you see the outcome: hot-pink shelves knitted from slick PVC tubing, lights suspended inside a mess of electrical wire, towering Impressionist thrones carved from blocks of black sponge. Lee may have old-fashioned ideals, but he designs for the modern world, and that’s the kind of transformative alchemy that draws people to an artist.
When it comes to the issues explored in the Victoria & Albert museum’s video series “Couples Counseling," which probes the relationships behind five London design duos, Raw Edges’s Yael Maer sums things up handily: “Working and living together — it’s a very problematic issue,” she says with a loaded smile. Adds partner Shay Alkalay: “We have to find a way to separate personal life and professional life,” before making it clear over the course of the subsequent seven-minute interview that the couple have managed to do no such thing. But although all five of the partnerships profiled — including FredriksonStallard and Pinch Design — admit that mixing love and professional collaboration brings its fair share of challenges, in the end the viewer understands that what gives their work its strength is the depth of character that results when a person’s greatest admirer is also his or her toughest critic.
It was hard not to feel a burst of pride when, after introducing Matter's Jamie Gray to Max Lipsey in advance of his appearance in our 2011 Noho Next showcase, we heard the pair had a major collab in the works. Unveiled at the Qubique fair in Berlin in October, Lipsey's Acciaio: Stage 2 collection for MatterMade picks up where the Eindhoven-based designer's first bicycle-inspired series left off, ratcheting up the proportions of the welded-steel objects and forming them into more complicated, experimental shapes, like the turquoise table/cabinet hybrid pictured above. There is, however, one significant difference: While the new pieces are limited-edition only, Lipsey himself manufactures the originals, slaving away in his workshop to produce each and every order by hand. Earlier this week, he sent Sight Unseen a short video documenting how he does it — which you can watch here — and obliged to answer a few questions for us about how the process has since evolved.