Alyson Fox’s Treasury Project

If we had to sum up our favorite kind of designer in a just a few brief sentences, it might read something like Alyson Fox’s biography: “I like making things from paper, found objects, thread, furniture, and plaster. I like designing things for commercial ends and designing things for no end at all. I have a degree in photography and an MFA where I focused on many mediums. I am inspired by hardware stores, building sites, empty rooms, people’s messes, stories, fabric, and quiet days.” But while we had some inkling of the Austin designer’s multidisciplinary chops — from girly-tough jewelry to patterned editions for the likes of West Elm — we weren’t aware of her artier inclinations until only recently. Those include a fantastic photo series documenting the textiles people use to cover up outdoor plant life when the weather gets cold, as well as our most recent discovery: a series of 1.5x1.5-inch plaster cubes, each one embedded with bits Fox and her husband found on the 5-acre plot where they last year built a house from scratch.
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Matthew Ronay on You Have Been Here Sometime

Long Island City, New York, is a vibrant up-and-coming neighborhood, home to MoMA PS1 and more than a few buzzy new restaurants. But it's also quite industrial, and prone to long, lonely stretches of aesthetic drabness that can alienate the casual visitor. The last time I toured an artist's studio there, nearly a decade ago, it was a woman who painted eye-poppingly bright, striated color fields almost compulsively, as if to insulate herself from the world outside her door. I don't purport to know Matthew Ronay's relationship with his adopted surroundings — he was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1976 — but his paintings and sculptures certainly add up to one big escapist fantasy: His last big show in New York, at Andrea Rosen Gallery in 2011, was a three-dimensional enchanted forest populated with unidentifiable creatures and eyeball trees, while his latest work revolves around a wall that he imagines to be a portal to another world, perhaps one that looks less like a dreary factory yard and more like a sunny idyll. Maybe that's why Los Angeles designer and Sight Unseen pal David John is so drawn to it? John interviewed Ronay last week on his cult blog, You Have Been Here Sometime, and invited imminent Sight Unseen contributor Brian Ferry to shoot the artist's studio.
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Peter Nencini’s “Beginnings”

We’ve been known to practically beg designers to put their sketchbooks on view for the world to see. But with one of our favorite London-based graphic designers, Peter Nencini, it was much easier than that. Nencini’s sketchbook is basically an open browser window: For nearly five years, the designer has been running one of our favorite inspiration blogs, where among the uncovered gems, he periodically posts direct source material, drawings, schematics, and studies for new work. Nencini trained as an illustrator and says drawing is what comes most naturally to him, even though his work has ranged from designing sets for television to creating amazing found object heirlooms for Partners & Spade to collaborating with wife Sally, a fashion designer, on embroidered and appliquéd upholstery.
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New Jewelry by Nhat-Vu Dang

Sometimes we furiously scour the internet or go gallery-hopping for inspiration. But sometimes, new good things just fall into our laps (something for which we’re particularly grateful on these tough days back after a holiday!) Case in point: These amazing new necklaces and brooches by recent Rietveld Academy grad Nhat-Vu Dang, which arrived in our inbox yesterday. It’s no secret we love ourselves a large, mixed-media necklace, and these fit the bill nicely, made from glass, wood, paint, high-density foam, and epoxy (the brooches are foam and steel). The new pieces, on view at the Amsterdam jewelry gallery Rob Koudijs through the end of February, are an extension of Dang’s graduation project: sculptural pieces of jewelry made from gray cardboard, which revealed hidden flashes of color when worn. The new pieces, says curator Ward Schrijver, are even more conceptual but no less covetable.
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The Fancy World by Matt Paweski

If there was ever a time when artists and designers could remain shrouded, Wizard of Oz-like, behind a curtain of mystery and intrigue, that time — partly thanks to sites like ours — is almost certainly past. Granted most artists still don't have their own websites, and most of their galleries are pitiful at conveying background info, but this being the information age, some blogger or curator never fails to come along and connect the dots. In the case of Matt Paweski, it may very well end up being Sight Unseen that gets to do the honors. While the Los Angeles–based artist is showing an exciting new body of work called "The Fancy World" at South Willard at the moment, so far there's very little to be gleaned about him anywhere online. We fell so in love with the new pieces, which are furniture-like in form if not entirely in function, that we set the wheels in motion for a more in-depth studio visit with Paweski in the spring. You'll get to know him better at that point, but for now, the Michigan-born talent was kind enough to tell us more about "The Fancy World," whose pieces are pictured in this post: "The fine line between something working or not is a place my work constantly returns to," he says.
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Benetton: The Art of Knit

Tourists emerging from the Broadway/Lafayette subway station in New York’s Soho were in for a shock this fall: Perched atop an old garage behind the BP gas station were two life-sized mannequins, clad in knitted wool and engaged in a rather un-family friendly act. (New Yorkers, used to such things, weren’t particularly fazed.) The artwork was part of the Lana Sutra series by Fabrica artist-in-residence Erik Ravelo, and it was commissioned for a Benetton pop-up shop that opened in the space this past September and closes at the end of this month. But once you stepped inside the 2,200-square-foot garage, you realized that though the knit sculptures were the attention-grabbers, the space was actually full to the brim with ingenious objects that offered clever takes on color and wool, created by the young talents at Fabrica — Benetton’s Treviso, Italy–based designer-in-residence program — under the creative direction of Fabrica’s design head Sam Baron and Benetton’s brand-new creative director You Nguyen. “The concept was to adapt Benetton’s DNA to a more modern vision,” says Baron.
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Lost Time by Glithero for Perrier-Jouet

In the tent at Design/Miami last week, nearly everything came with a price tag. RO/LU walnut and Formica bookcases: $3,800. Michael’s Genuine Ultimate Caprese Sandwich: $14. Even one of Snarkitecture’s upholstered foam benches, which welcomed tired fairgoers in the courtyard outside, could be snagged for a mere $5,000 from Chicago’s Volume Gallery. But there was one thing that wasn’t, that couldn’t be, for sale: The London-based studio Glithero’s Lost Time installation, which unfolded in a dark hallway near the café, the result of a commission from first-time Design/Miami sponsor Perrier-Jouët (who was kind enough to sponsor this editor’s plane ticket down as well.) There, the duo installed a series of looping weighted silver chains, which hung in perfect parabolas from the ceiling and, lit from below, cast reflections in a still clear pond beneath.
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Merijn Hos at Beginnings Gallery

Could New York’s best new gallery be in Greenpoint, Brooklyn? We’re beginning — no pun intended — to think it just might be so. Beginnings, a small storefront gallery on a side street off Greenpoint’s main drag, opened earlier this fall, the brainchild of seven like-minded friends and artists (two of whom are erstwhile members of Philadelphia’s artists-for-artists gallery Space 1026). At the outset, the goal was to create a warm, welcoming space that would be a home for emerging artists but also a place where even first-time art buyers might be encouraged to actually make a purchase. In their inaugural exhibition, the curators asked questions like: “What’s art for anymore? How can contemporary art be bought and sold in a healthy, progressive way? How can new artists support/be supported in their community? In the 21st century, what are the most satisfying and effective roles of the gallery? The gallerist? The gallery-goers?” The refreshingly honest answer? “We got no idea, but we’re happy to present this art and these artists.”
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Gabriel Orozco’s Asterisms at the Guggenheim

It may look like a staging area for the production of Stuart Haygarth chandeliers or Massimiliano Adami cabinets, or possibly an excerpt from the website Things Organized Neatly. But the comely technicolor garbage pile pictured above is actually a piece by the Mexican art-star Gabriel Orozco, who's known for his use of humble materials and found objects, and it's moving into New York's Guggenheim museum as of this Friday. Asterisms is a process-oriented installation — our favorite kind! — featuring thousands of objects Orozco collected from two separate sites: a sports field near his New York home and a wildlife reserve on the coast of Baja California Sur, the latter of which happens to enjoy a constant flow of industrial backwash from across the Pacific that every so often yields bits of aesthetically pleasing detritus.
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Moss: Dialogues Between Art & Design Auction

Yesterday at Phillips de Pury in New York, the auction "Moss: Dialogues Between Art & Design" raked in more $5 million and smashed records for work by the likes of Maarten Baas, Hella Jongerius, and Patricia Urquiola. But while we're always pleased to see design taken a bit more seriously, it wasn't this auction's star power but rather its conceptual conceit that intrigued us so. Curated by Murray Moss — with many of the selections coming from Moss's own personal collection — the auction paired art and design pieces that seemed to share a common DNA, whether by virtue of material, technique, or appearance. The pairings were surprising and lovely, with the curves of Mattia Bonneti's plump purple velvet sofa echoing Luciano Castelli's reclining red nude, or the colored striations of Julien Carretero's To Be Continued bench causing the same sense of vertigo as Doug Argue's obsessive lines in (Untitled): Strata, 2011. (You can view the full catalog for yourself online here.) Perhaps best of all, the catalog was prefaced by an unusually personal story from Moss himself, who can seem a bit of a cipher to those not in his inner circle. We found the whole thing so interesting we've reprinted it in full here. Read on below, then follow our slideshow to see some of the highlights from last night.
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Kiosk’s Obama 2012 Souvenirs

In 1960, there was a noisemaker that said “Click with Dick,” endorsing Richard Nixon for President. In 1964, a canned novelty beverage promoted Barry Goldwater's candidacy (“Gold Water: The Right Drink for the Conservative Taste”). But these days, with Shepard Fairey’s once-inescapable "Hope" poster on the wane, you’d be hard-pressed to find an election souvenir of note beyond the usual bumper stickers, commemorative mugs, and buttons. Enter Kiosk, New York’s go-to retailer for quirky housewares and objects from around the world. This week, Kiosk owners Alisa Grifo and Marco ter haar Romeny released a collection of five pro-Obama souvenirs, which sport cheekily retrograde slogans and riff on American-made objects the shop already had in stock.
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Isabel Wilson on Freunde Von Freunden

There must have been something in the air back in 2009, because Freunde Von Freunden, the Berlin-based website whose voyeuristic, photography-based interviews are of a piece with our own obsessions (i.e. barging in on people's home and workplaces and showing ourselves around) — started just a few weeks before Sight Unseen's launch at the end of that year. "We never look for apartments but for people," they say, and that's always been our mission as well — to get at the personality behind the product, and the narrative behind each new release. To that end, since we introduced you last week to Isabel Wilson's textile and jewelry line with Chen Chen — and considering we've more than covered her partner in crime — we figured it was high time to get to know the RISD grad's incredible,intricate work. Luckily FvF beat us to it, with a gorgeously photographed editorial by photographer Brian Ferry, which appeared on the site just last month, and which we're excerpting on Sight Unseen today.
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