Sight Unseen’s 10 Most-Read Stories of 2019
It was a big year for Sight Unseen. We took a break, for the first time ever, from our beloved New York Design Week show (though look for it to return in 2020!). We celebrated 10 years in business with an epic party and a very nostalgic trip down memory lane. We launched our first ever product for the home (stay tuned for more of this in 2020, too!), and we took our Sight Unseen-designed suitcases to Stockholm, Milan, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Greece, Lake Como, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, and more (always check our Instagram Stories for travelogues!). Through it all, we came here every day to tell you about the designers we’d discovered, the trends we were wondering about, the interiors we wanted to live in, and the products we couldn’t live without. Today we’re counting down the most-read stories from this year, from the vintage lamps we’ve been spying everywhere to the coolest spots in Mexico City.
Scroll down to see if your favorites made the list, and while you’re at it, never miss a Sight Unseen story again by subscribing to our weekly digest, which sends an entire week’s worth of stories straight to your inbox every Thursday afternoon.
1. No, You’re Not Imagining It — These Three Vintage Lamps Are Suddenly Everywhere
“Each lamp is vintage, but perhaps the more crucial thing they have in common is that each represents a trend currently winging its way through the design world. The Mads Caprani lamp — a ’70s-era Danish creation that mixes a curved bentwood spine with a cast-iron base and a creamy fluted shade — plays on the current mania for pleated lampshades. The squat Murano Mushroom lamp satisfies our need for all things colored glass. And Noguchi’s polka-dot Akari light sculpture is a nice bridge between two simultaneous trends — graphic maximalism and all things organic, puffy, and beige.”
2. This Design Museum Turns Real Swedish Homes Into Museums for a Day
“The Home Viewing Exhibitions turn private residences across the country into showcases for contemporary and vintage Swedish design, becoming museums for a day by way of real estate agents’ property viewings that have been cleverly rephrased as exhibitions.”
3. A Japanese Graphic Designer Whose Still Lifes Look Almost Like They’re Moving
“With echoes of kinetic sculpture, Eames toy designs, and the colorful, graphic work of Karel Martens, Tabei’s work plays with color, light, and balance in a way that feels dimensional, fresh, and a touch science fair-adjacent.”
4. This Toronto Designer Makes Furniture You Can’t Keep Your Hands Off Of
“Paolo Ferrari approaches individual designs as components of a unified whole, connected not only by tangible similarities (layered upholstery echoed in both a sofa and a chair, say), but also by the desire to achieve yet another elusive balance — this time between exhibit-worthy sophistication and everyday functionality. “What I love most is when people can’t keep their hands off the furniture,” he says.”
5. Meet Greta Cevenini, The Best Italian Interiors Stylist You’ve Never Heard Of
“Her work is quiet — cool and rich with light-touch visual references well before they become ubiquitous, leaning more on texture and subtle color variations rather than dramatic, scene-stealing statements.”
6. The L.A. Home of a Cult Jewelry Designer — And the Career Move She’s Considering
“Admirers of Kathleen Whitaker’s jewelry — known for its statement-making simplicity — may not be surprised to learn that her Los Angeles house is a minimalist’s dream, with white walls, honey-toned wooden floors, and leaded windows that allow the century-old structure’s hillside views to shine. More likely to raise eyebrows is the fact that Whitaker has lately been exploring a shift into the world of interiors, and that her home, which she shares with her husband, Bradford, has become her lab.”
7. Meet the Florist Behind Instagram’s Dreamiest Still Lifes
“Doan Ly‘s floral still life photographs could, in a way, be read as contemporary vanitas paintings — compositions of hyper-saturated bouquets, exotic fruits, and colored lights whose addictive, saccharine appeal might symbolize the fleetingness of beauty, and of Instagram culture itself. Yet we prefer to look at it like Ly does: The world is a shitty, shitty place right now, so let’s all just take a sec to enjoy some insanely pretty flowers, okay?”
8. A Brand New Design Gallery in Mexico City Just Launched With an All-Star Lineup
“MASA was inevitable, and MASA was what we’d been waiting for — a stake planted for high-end design within the cultural renaissance happening in Mexico City right now. Everyone talks about the city’s epic food scene, and its influential art galleries, and the Zona Maco fair, and the budding starchitects building fancy museums. But before MASA debuted this past week, with an exhibition of furniture and lighting by 15 of the city’s top artists and designers, there wasn’t a definitive platform for contemporary experimental design.”
9. A Tour of Mexico City’s Secret Spots With One of Its Biggest Tastemakers
“Spending the day with Su Wu would be a dream assignment for any design writer, or really anyone who considers themselves a fan of good things and great stories. From Wu’s family home, where she lives with her husband, the artist Alma Allen, and their daughter, to an all-but-lost Noguchi mural tucked away above a bustling downtown market, Wu’s vision of Mexico City stays true to her own compelling vernacular.”
10. Why is This Early 1900s Swedish Minimalist Suddenly All Over Instagram?
“You can consider us full converts to the church of Axel Einar Hjorth, whose work remains disarmingly fresh 60 years after his death, mixing as it does both Art Deco and Modernist influences, a sense of sophistication with something more primitive. But what exactly brought Hjorth — who was lauded in his time as a progenitor of Swedish modernism, but ended up largely forgotten after his death — back into the Zeitgeist?”