Sight Unseen’s 10 Most-Read Stories of 2020

Poor, sweet, prescient us. Remember back in early February when we said, “Hey isn’t it weird how everything suddenly looks like a cave you’d like to escape into and shut out the world?” Little did we know that we’d all be spending the rest of the year in the equivalent of an isolation tank. So yeah — no surprise that our most-read story of 2020 was the equivalent of us shutting the bunker doors and saying “See you next year!” Luckily you guys liked other things as well, including our look at how designers were handling their businesses during the pandemic, a bevy of beautiful interiors, and — a personal favorite — a vintage guide to the art of ikebana. We’ll be offline from Christmas to New Year’s — and hope you will too, honestly everyone could use a little mental break! — but scroll down for a look back at the most-read stories from this year. 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 in newsletter format straight to your inbox every Thursday afternoon.

On another note, a massive thank you to everyone who supported Sight Unseen during this epically weird year — whether you bought a membership to our SU Friends program (which you should absolutely do, we have some excellent exclusive content coming your way next year), purchased a piece from one of our online shops, wrote a story about something we did, or simply read and responded to our newsletters, Instagram posts, stories, and all the other ways we daily send a signal out into the world, hoping to get something in return. Happy new year!
2020 interior design trends1. 2020’s Biggest Design Trends Are All About Our Desire to Escape
“Everything we’ve been noticing lately, particularly in interiors, has been focused around the idea of escape. Last week, in our story about goblets, Monica referred to it as a kind of “castle-fantasy maximalism,” and that’s definitely part of what’s happening in interiors — the brocade fabrics, the ceiling murals, the chunky wooden chalet furniture. But there’s also other ideas of where we might escape to at work here, including the aforementioned inside of a cave — textured walls, hand-sculpted fireplaces, recessed shelves — or some sort of idealized seaside aerie, whether it looks like Le Corbusier’s plywood-paneled Cabanon or like a cabana-striped 1950s resort. And no wonder these trends suddenly abound — no matter your political stance, the world is, shall we say, freaking terrifying right now.”Juliette Wanty home tour2. Juliette Wanty’s Auckland Cottage is a Masterclass In Doing The Most With A Rental
“Stylist and designer Juliette Wanty’s Auckland home is a lesson in resourcefulness. As the art director for New Zealand shelter mag Homestyle, she’s accustomed to whipping up a centerfold in an afternoon for one of her dreamy, impeccably styled interiors shoots. So when it came time to makeover the home she rents with her partner, Robin Schmid, an architectural facade designer, that inventive, DIY approach served the couple well.”_74A28903. This Modern Spanish Los Angeles Home is All About the Bathrooms (And the Archways, And the Pool…)
“The result, which references Irving Gill and other examples of early Spanish-influenced California Modernism, is a simple form of two long, horizontal-stacked rectangles. A single archway creates a series of openings, spaces, and connections within the two volumes, and tidily references the exterior as well. Also, can we please take a moment to appreciate the pool?”
Sohyun Yun colored acrylic furniture4. This South Korean Designer Finds Process and Potential In Colored Acrylic
“Seoul-based Sohyun Yun is first and foremost an advocate for what she calls “intuitive” design — work that looks and feels like it wants to be looked at and felt. Her pieces are by turns ecstatic and empathic, tethered to tradition but not beholden to it. We caught up with the designer over email to chat about color matching, Korean aesthetics, and dream collaborations.”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 5. James Evans’s Photorealistic Paintings Are a Meditation on Impermanence
“The suffocated images of artist James Evans’s “Constraint Equation” series are a photorealistic depiction of what appears to be florals and foliage wrapped up in sheets of humid plastic that obscure and abstract them. Created during a period in quarantine, they are a fitting expression of the limitations and discomfort most of us have experienced this year.”
Pandemic_Alhadeff6. 19 Designers Share How the Pandemic Is Affecting Their Business — And How They’re Staying Positive
“The creative community is facing canceled fairs and projects, lost clients, production delays, and countless other difficulties, and the future feels incredibly uncertain. But the one upside to the crisis is that we’re all scared, and we’re all in it together — from China to Europe to, now, the U.S. We decided to reach out to designers, art directors, gallerists, and other practitioners to find out what they’re experiencing, professionally and personally, and what positive thoughts and advice they’d offer other creatives to ensure that everyone can continue to thrive once this crisis ends.”
Arranging Flowers67. This 1960s Guide to Ikebana is the Resource We Need Right Now
“I found The Art of Arranging Flowers, a comprehensive 1960s guide to the Japanese art of ikebana, in Stockholm at the beginning of last year. Too heavy to carry home, I tracked it down from a seller in Indiana and promptly bought it, thinking it would be a nice visual touchstone and a cool thing to display on my coffee table. Little did I know that a year later, I’d be wondering if the book could serve as an actual resource for those currently stuck in their homes, flailing about for ways to express their creativity.”
1V9A26588. This Los Angeles Home is a Master Class in Neutral-Soaked California Minimalism
“Built in 1947, the Echo Park residence was gut renovated by its owner, Jonathan Criss, with interiors by up-and-coming designer Maria Matis Kennedy of Matis Creative. ‘The first brief Jon gave me was open-ended, and I thought we would do something mid-century because we both geek out over clean design. After lugging some huge Moroccan rugs into the living room, though, we pretty quickly realized that style just wouldn’t work in this home. We needed it to feel calm, and not have too many jolting colors.'”
Jade Paton 09. Cape Town Ceramicist Jade Paton’s Quirky Hand-Formed Vessels
“Ceramic artist Jade Paton’s parents own a well-known florist in Cape Town where she’s spent many hours working, twisting bouquets, and building installations. It’s fitting then that she now uses her hands to make vessels that look particularly wonderful when filled with flowers. But don’t be mistaken — her ceramic pieces are equally inspired by her background in sculpture during her studies in fine art and would hold their own in a white cube.”
201901211Bofred_0475_RT10. An Earthy New Furniture Collection, Inspired By the South African Coastline
“Christa Botha and Carla Erasmus are the design duo behind Bofred, whose concept of home is an eclectic mix of the two coastal cities where they feel most relaxed and inspired, Muscat and Durban. “It’s grainy deserts, soft oceans, foamy waves, wind-licked beaches and lime-washed buildings,” they write. “Home is busy, dusty street corners, vast swaths of muted earth, thunderstorms, cloudless skies, oases of saturated green, and horizons cut by jagged peaks.” All rich material for conceptualizing the textures, forms and colors of a new collection.”