Week of March 3, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: foam that looks like marble, a digital print that looks like a painting, and the hot new decor trend that borrows from the gym, of all places.
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Mel Nguyen’s Desktop Deposits Series

Earlier today we posted a studio visit with the young Minneapolis artist Mel Nguyen, shot by photographer Debbie Carlos. But it only featured a small selection of Nguyen's work, in which each project is typically disassembled and morphed into three more. "If you look at a single project of mine and only associate me with that project, it will be not a complete representation of my practice," Nguyen says. We figured it was worth showing you one more example from her portfolio: her recent clay Desktop Deposits series, made for the Kansas City, Missouri, project Objet Boutique curated by Dean Roper.
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The Fruit Shop by Hsian Jung

Taiwan-born, London-based Hsian Jung works as a curator and interior stylist, but in his spare time, he recently started a hand-formed ceramics line called The Fruit Shop, through whose website he releases collections inspired by individual fruits and vegetables. "Friends were describing my pottery as reminiscent of sweet melons and pumpkins, an insight that inspired this project," explains Jung. To launch his first series, based around the cantaloupe, he styled a series of photographs using "cheap objects from daily life that have similar color tones as the ceramics but totally different textures," he says.
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The 2014 Whitney Biennial

Perhaps the most telling moment regarding this year's Whitney Biennial came when we posted an image of Dutch artist Peter Schuyff's spiral-carved pencils on Instagram. "Where is this craft show?" joked Mondo Cane's Patrick Parrish. "Bedford Ave?" he asked, referring to Brooklyn's main hipster thoroughfare. Yep, this biennial feels decidedly different than years past. There are still inscrutable videos, and works we simply slid by for lack of interest, but this year had moments that felt smaller, more tactile, more intimate — and for us, more compelling — than in years past.
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Week of February 24, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: furniture worthy of a "French Fries Party," super-minimalist $99 lamps, candy-colored stools by Jeff Martin (above), and incredibly styled images by the likes of Gemma Tickle and the Bouroullec brothers.
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Natalie Herrera High Gloss Ceramics

Natalie Herrera of High Gloss Ceramics

If you want to get a sense of exactly how new to the scene Natalie Herrera is — well, she just launched her online shop last night. It’s not that she’s a newly minted graduate — Herrera got a BFA from RISD in 2009, after all — it’s only that it took her this long to figure out she was really, really good at ceramics. A glimpse at her work can immediately tell you why: When you look at her forms, which have more rigorous lines than your usual wheel-thrown vessels, as well as hand-built surface decoration in the form of shapes and squiggles, it comes as no surprise that what she was doing before she stumbled into ceramics was graphic design.
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Sevak Zargarian, Ceramicist

Sevak Zargarian is a London-based graduate of the Central Saint Martins undergrad course in Ceramics, for which his final project was the series of Grogged Vases pictured in the first half of this post. To make them, Zargarian first creates his own "grog" — broken-up scraps of stained and fired clay normally mixed into pottery to invisibly prevent kiln shrinkage — then makes a plaster bowl mold, which he dips into a bucket of grog-filled slip in a reverse-casting process. His Grogged Jars, below, use smaller grog bits and conventional plaster molds. Zargarian focuses on process- and materials-driven experimentation based around the tactile qualities of clay, yet rather than only celebrating the hand-made element of his work, he's more interested in how he might someday apply his studio discoveries to industrial production.
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Hanna Eshel on 1st Dibs

If you’re not in New York, you might never have heard of Hanna Eshel, the Israeli-born, 87-year-old artist who suddenly appeared in the cultural Zeitgeist this winter. We certainly hadn’t until we overheard our friend Patrick Parrish talking about her at a holiday party last month. Parrish’s Tribeca gallery is one of two spaces in Manhattan (the other being Todd Merrill) that’s simultaneously giving the talented painter–turned–sculptor a solo show, her first ever in New York. Of course, now that she’s on our radar, she’s suddenly everywhere — name-checked in hipster interiors posts and featured on 1st Dibs, in an interview we're excerpting today.
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Kay Wang, The Things We Keep

If you only knew Kay Wang through her Instagram — and chances are you might, considering her 33,000 followers — you wouldn’t necessarily immediately know what she does for a living. She could easily be a baker, a stylist, a ceramicist, or a woodworker; in December alone, she posted pictures from her Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, apartment of the frangipane tart she’d baked, the cherry cutting boards she’d sanded and oiled, the canvas bags she’d dyed with onion skin, and the silk cord necklaces she’d strung with hand-carved brass pendants. (And you’d certainly never guess that she spent nine years before moving to Brooklyn as an online marketer in Los Angeles and Seattle.) What she is, very clearly, is a restless creative spirit; so much so that even though her main focus right now is as a jewelry designer who crafts under the moniker The Things We Keep, she has trouble pinning herself with a specific label.
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Lola Lely, furniture designer

Lola Lely was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, but, having moved to London when she was only five, the rising design star can claim native east Londoner status — a rare feat in the area’s bustling international design scene. Her interest in making dates back nearly as far; her mother, a seamstress, was always “knitting or crocheting, making clothes or coasters.” Her Foundation tutor, ceramicist Bo Davies, guided Lely down the path to product design, to satisfy her interest in various disciplines and materials. But now that she’s there, she says, “none of my projects seem to have an end point. I like restlessness, when I don’t know where something is going. It's a little bit serendipitous.”
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Of-The-Moment Ceramics — And Mushrooms? — At a New Brooklyn Pop-Up

Since it opened in the summer of 2012, Frank Traynor’s Perfect Nothing Catalog — an ice shack–turned-shop that its owner transplanted from upstate New York to Brooklyn — has already relocated twice: from its original home in a Greenpoint garden to the backyard of a gallery in Bushwick, and, very briefly this summer, to a subway platform in Williamsburg. That particular pitstop, set up outside a more permanent subway retail outlet called The Newsstand, was a show called Behind Flamingo Plaza. “It was named after my high-school hangout, an all thrift-store strip mall in Miami — a very formative space for my aesthetic and a vibe I wanted to honor,” explains Traynor.
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Hammer Museum’s Arts ReSTORE

For all of the handwringing about art being inaccessible, there’s no city planning theory that has gained more traction in this century than the idea of creative people driving neighborhood revitalization. Which means that the descriptively titled “Arts ReSTORE: LA” project isn’t just loftily ambitious. The month-long residency program, which began last week, might actually work at creating a less sterile West Los Angeles, not least because it is supported by the powerhouse Hammer Museum, whose three-story compound anchors one end of the street. On a stretch of Westwood Ave., better known for chain sandwich shops and fluorescent interiors, the Hammer offered a half-dozen empty storefronts to local artists and makers, with the idea that even a temporary infusion would upend the retail mood of the area. If the packed opening night was any indication, this time the theory holds. Here’s what we saw.
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