8- The Pond House Expo Carwan Ph. Rami Haj

We Didn’t Think Kilims Could Get Any Cooler… Until Now

Iranian artist Taher Asad Bakhtiari may be a Raf Simons–wearing, Swiss-educated jetsetter, but growing up, he was inundated with local tradition. Now he helps support and modernize the ancient crafts that were among his most formative influences by working with semi-nomadic Iranian weavers to create contemporary, geometric updates on traditional kilim and gabbeh rugs. His latest series, pictured here, is on view in The Pond House, a solo show of his textiles that just opened at Carwan Gallery in Beirut.
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Ricky Swallow1

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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New Work by David Taylor

In case you hadn’t noticed, the big trend in these leaner, post­–economic disaster days, has been to elevate the lowest of low-grade materials into something elegant by design. OSB, polystyrene, plywood, plastic, MDF, resin — the list is endless. But you’d be hard pressed to think of a designer who does the opposite, who purposefully debases the precious commodity he’s been trained to craft to perfection. And yet what other choice did David Taylor have? After graduating from Konstfack in 1999, the Stockholm-based silversmith began to see the price of his raw materials soar: “Silver simply became too expensive for me to work with,” he says. “Without the benefit of a commission, working on spec becomes impossible when silver has quadrupled in price over the last eight years.” But Taylor’s loss was our gain: The designer began dabbling a few years ago in what he calls “a cheaper neighborhood,” making object assemblages by grafting more inexpensive materials like concrete, brass, and steel onto smaller silver pieces.
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The finished chairs. “In the original project, the chairs were all beaten up, so it was nice to fancy them up. But Richard needs to have something consistent if people want to buy a whole set, so these chairs are brand new. I still have a back stock of vintage ones, though, and if I see a cool folding chair, I’ll buy it.”

Tanya Aguiñiga, Textile and Furniture Designer

Los Angeles designer Tanya Aguiñiga already had two studios when she took up a third this summer: the first in the backyard of the Atwater Village bungalow she shares with her husband and two sisters, and the second six blocks away, in a converted industrial-park-turned-artists’-community near the train tracks. But in early July, Aguiñiga picked up and moved her shop 2,000 miles south to the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, for a five-week residency — the first in a project she calls Artists Helping Artisans. “I had gone to Oaxaca and Chiapas in 2007, and there was so much amazing stuff being produced by the women there,” she says. “People aren’t aware of it because the skills aren’t being passed down anymore and because people are scared to travel within Mexico. There’s isn’t enough tourism or income to sustain these crafts.”
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