Our first-ever From the Archives post, which looked back at William Sklaroff’s mid-century desk accessory set Radius One, dates back to November 10, 2009 — the very first day of Sight Unseen’s existence. But after that, the column pretty much petered out, partly because we didn’t have the time to research it properly and partly because, with millions upon millions of wonderful old things to potentially highlight, how could we ever choose just one? We’ve officially solved that problem today with the launch of our new and improved From the Archives series, in which designers and artists do all the work for us: Each edition will invite a talent we admire to give a history lesson on someone from the past who’s had a strong impact on their work. Our first subject is Brooklyn glassmaker Andrew O. Hughes, speaking about the California Light and Space sculptor DeWain Valentine (no holiday-themed pun intended).
After studying glass at RISD, Hughes moved to New York in 2001 and honed his skills by working for others on sculptures, antique restoration projects, and a bizarre art piece that involved him knitting hog intestines for six months. It wasn’t until 2006 that a fateful and lucrative job playing a glassblower in a Michelob commercial allowed him to set up his own studio — through which he’s created pieces for himself, for Calvin Klein Home, and for commissions from the likes of Stephen Burks and Roman + Williams — and eventually end up showing at Sight Unseen OFFSITE last May. That was where we first heard Hughes speak about his love for Valentine, who had partially inspired the Prism Candlesticks he was debuting at our show.
Here, Hughes tells us all the details of his love affair (no pun intended pt. II) with the sculptor’s work, starting with how he first discovered it: “I was visiting a rep and on his coffee table was an invite to a DeWain Valentine show in Paris with a peach-colored Diamond Column on it,” Hughes says. “I had been working on triangular cast-glass candlesticks at the time, and when I saw the sculpture it felt like the realization of my vision. Though I was a big fan of other California Light and Space Artists, like James Turrell and John McCraken, I had never heard of Valentine and was enthralled. As it turns out, his work has had a bit of a recent revival, and oddly enough, after much innovation in polyurethane, he’s moved on to glass as his main medium of expression. Full-circle serendipity.”
In the realm of magazine-making, photographer Eva Michon and creative director Colin Bergh could be considered populist heroes. Whenever they begin an issue of their four-year-old side project Bad Day Magazine, they make a wish list full of dozens of potential subjects they happen to be interested in at the moment — Sofia Coppola, Glenn O'Brien, Ariel Pink — and then, except for one fateful attempt to woo Nicki Minaj, they actually manage to go out and persuade those disparate personalities to appear together among their monochromatic pages. The pair have gotten so good at the curatorial hunt that when Michon, who serves as editor, agreed to let us reprint an article from the recently released Bad Day Issue #11, we were spoiled for choice: There were interviews with Sight Unseen favorites Martino Gamper and Tauba Auerbach, both of whom we're planning to feature on our own in the near future, plus stories on Mike Mills, David Shrigley, Tomi Ungerer, and David Shearer. But ultimately we settled on the curious multidisciplinary dialogue between the actor Jason Schwartzman and the New York artist Andrew Kuo, who meander between topics like music, color-mixing, hangovers, and what it would be like if they looked like Jesus.
If you're anything like us, the idea of receiving a big, overpriced bouquet on Valentine's Day seems not only a little bit schmaltzy, but also a little bit of a waste, with all the amazing design objects out there your significant other could be spending his or her money on. Isn't it more romantic or them to be so thoughtful as to gift you something you might really, actually want? With that in mind — and with a little nudge from our friends at Aether, whose strikingly minimalist Cone speaker we had on our own wish lists long before they reached out to us — we present the first ever Sight Unseen Valentine's Day gift guide, featuring 11 items guaranteed to melt the heart of any design-lover in your life.
For Heather Chontos, painting is like dreaming — a chance to work out all the things that trouble her during the day. Except that what troubles this free-spirited prop stylist and set designer is mostly just one thing: the domestic object. She once spent three years feverishly painting nothing but chairs; she made a series of drawings called "Domestic Goods Are Punishing." It's a kind of love/hate relationship. "It's endemic to stylists everywhere — you see things, you want them, you horde them all," says the 31-year-old. "It's that weighing down I really struggle with. When I first started painting, you would have never seen anything figurative, but it's all I obsess over now."