In SAIC’s Whatnot Studio — As in Life — Utopia is an Impossible, But Ultimately Worthwhile, Pursuit

There’s no such thing as utopia. Coined by Thomas Moore in his 1516 book of the same name, the word "utopia" combines the ancient Greek roots for “not” and “place.” It’s a fiction, a nowhere, or at least a not-here-yet. But its perpetual absence — or deferral — shouldn’t leave us discouraged; its inaccessibility is precisely the point. “Utopia is an impossible ideal,” says designer Pete Oyler, “but one that designers continue to pursue. I think it's a testament to the persistence of the imagination and the ongoing quest for something better.” It was with this in mind that Oyler, along with designer Jonah Takagi, taught this year's Whatnot Studio within the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Designed Objects program.
StudioPOA_chair scene

Studio POA’s Work Combines Natural Materials With Computer-Generated Growth Algorithms

Guatemala-born, New York–based designer Giovanni Valdeavellano blurs the boundaries between digital and analog, industrial and unrepeatable. His sculptural designs estrange familiar materials like glass, wood, ceramic, and steel to create fresh structures and shapes. We caught up with him to talk abstraction, technology, and the hand-made in an era of life taking place increasingly on the small screen.
jackrabbit studio offsite online

Jackrabbit Studio’s New Works Aren’t Chubby — They’re Monumental

Curves both gentle and exaggerated, varying volumes, and a playful sensibility find balance in the disarmingly simple furniture of Jackrabbit Studio, the Hudson Valley, New York, design practice of Brett Miller. Miller's recent work began as experiments with circular and cylindrical geometries; the curves of his Funky Bunch trio of chairs, Plato floor lamp, Primary chair, and Rotunda coffee table are thanks to Miller’s experiments with his lathe, in a process he likens to surfboard shaping — a fitting reference for the San Diego native.

Christopher Norman is Turning the Castoff Urban Trees of Los Angeles Into Art

Los Angeles–based architect and designer Christopher Norman’s new collection of hand-machined minimal forms resists standardization. His untitled “extrusions” in ash and cedar and pine riff on a hardware aesthetic, while maintaining the organic ethos seen in much of his other, more fluidly-shaped work. Forgoing pre-cut lumber, Norman uses wood from freshly cut trees. “If you’re working with commercial wood, you get a very normalized look and set of proportions. It’s basically highly mediated,” he explains.
JUMBO_Scene 1 Landscape

JUMBO’s Founders on the Science of Cuteness — And Why They’re Endlessly Inspired By the Emoji

Trained as architects, Donnelly and Lee design objects that seem seamless, almost immaterial, just arrangements of color and form. Working in this gap between representation and object could be no less prescient — as if we weren’t experiencing much of the world mediated by screens already, social distancing due to the pandemic has only increased our reliance on digital intermediaries.

Meet Three (More) Rising Stars Defining the Greek Design Scene

To work in Athens in 2020 is to work in a city that is both global — and, as such, ripe with opportunities for cross-border collaborations — but also very particular. Whether focusing on local problems with global impact, like the Greek capital’s distinct lack of recycling facilities, or creating collective arts organizations, making of any kind here is always situated within a local context. To get a glimpse into the growing Greek design scene, we recently caught up with three of the country's most exciting young talents.
Material Lust Independent

Frustrated by the Limits of Design, Material Lust Sets Its Sights on the Art World

Not much had recently been heard from Material Lust until this March, when, after a few quiet years, they popped back on our radar, showing neither at a design gallery nor a furniture show, but at the New York art fair Independent, in a Spring Studios skybox overlooking a maze of gallery booths. Frustrated by the literalness of conversations they were having in the world of furniture design — and with their practice taking an increasingly conceptual turn — the pair made the conscious decision to turn Material Lust from a design brand into an artist collective.
Max Enrich_©Iris Humm_29

At 480 Square Feet, This Pastel Apartment in Barcelona is Tiny Yet Unbelievably Chic

Furniture designer Max Enrich’s Barcelona home is a veritable cabinet of curiosities, all exploded out into the living space. A Thonet bistro chair is suspended from the wall like a painting; a desk is filled with scissors of all varieties and ages; a stone bust adorns a bathroom counter; travertine samples are laid out as decoration; miniature chairs are arranged in a built-in, recessed display — the list could go on. And it is, after all, a list — an accumulation without seeming association, but that possesses surprising consonance.
'ciaobeigeciao' chair in lilac_opener

In a New Series, A Sicilian Still-Life Artist Says Goodbye to Beige

The Sicilian-born, London-based designer Oscar Piccolo has a self-professed obsession. He is compelled to take vases and arrange them just so, manipulating how the light shines through, meticulously moving through tableaux until arriving — ecstatically — at just the right one. This fascination, he admits, “is becoming a bit of a problem.” Yet at the core of this compulsion is a relatively simple proposition: “All in all, my work explores the relation between objects and their positioning.”
Giancarlo Valle_opener

The In-Demand Architect–Turned–Furniture Designer to Know Now

Giancarlo Valle didn’t set out to design furniture. A trained architect, his practice moved first indoors to interiors, then even further to the things that fill them. An interest in objects initially manifested in the collecting of furniture from across eras, but soon, collecting wasn’t enough. At Collective Design this spring, he debuted his first collection in a holistic installation that saw his own highly personal pieces alongside historical ones. Last week, for Sight Unseen OFFSITE, Valle debuted new work in collaboration with Viso Project, a new, sustainability-focused textile studio.