When we discovered the design duo Marlo & Isaure — founded by former ECAL classmates Marlo Kara (Swiss-Greek, born in Geneva) and Isaure Bouyssonie (French, born in Tunisia) — we assumed they were simply a furniture studio, creating products like the Fabrique lights, pictured above, for galleries and manufacturers. But it turns out that assumption was only half correct.
Over four days spent in Milan last week at the annual furniture fair, we saw dozens of exhibitions, spent 9 hours at the fairgrounds, and shot more than 800 photos. Pretty overwhelming. While we take a moment to regroup and put together our official coverage, which starts tomorrow, we figured we'd share with you one of the few projects that we didn't photograph in Milan, but didn't need to — SU alums Josephine Choquet and Virgil Thévoz launched an extensive new collection of marble tables and housewares with the Italian marble producer Bloc Studios, and thanks to the duo's superior art directing skills, it came complete with the perfectly styled set of images you'll see after the jump.
We discovered Cave Collective by way of their jewelry, which we spotted at the boutique No. 6 in New York, this past October. In late November, we shot founders Cat Lauigan and Alex Wolkowicz in their Greenpoint workspace. Then, by the end of January, we found out that they'd dismantled most of the studio and jewelry line, that Lauigan had relocated to California, and that both artists were focusing on their individual practices until they figured out what to do next. And yet by that point, we knew enough about Cave Collective to take the news in stride — ever since Lauigan and Wolkowicz began their collaboration in 2010, it's been an endlessly shape-shifting and exploratory project, one that's seen them living thousands of miles apart for nearly as long as they've lived in the same city.
Turns out we're not the only ones who have noticed Scandinavia's re-emergence as a design powerhouse. In 2012, at the behest of the Taiwanese government, the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute invited five Swedish designers — Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom of TAF, Matti Klenell, Stina Löfgren, and Carina Seth Andersson — to visit their country in order to work with craftsmen to explore the world of lacquer techniques. From Taiwan's point of view, the project was meant to boost interest in their native lacquer craft and to investigate the effects of combining lacquer work with Scandinavian design. But it was also a very savvy business decision: "Many producers in Taiwan are curious about the performance of IKEA, Muuto, and Hay ━ the entire Scandinavian success story," says Klenell. "A lot of questions have been asked about that kind of thing: 'How can we learn about design, how can we start up businesses?'" The impact of the collaboration on Taiwanese design culture is still to be seen, but the physical results will be on view starting next Tuesday and until February 8 at Stockholm's Östasiatiska Museet, or the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities.
The folks who rank as internet celebrities in Sight Unseen’s world — usually those with a killer eye and a massive following on Tumblr or Instagram — would no doubt seem obscure to most. But even our regular readers might be surprised by today's unconventional yet equally influential story subject. A few years ago, after stumbling across some articles about mathematician Father Magnus Wenninger on the web, we added him to our “Minnesota” file, whose sole other occupant at the time was RO/LU; earlier this summer, we finally had an occasion to open said file when SU contributor Debbie Carlos asked if she could shoot anything for us there. Carlos was game enough to track down the nonagenarian priest — who became a cult figure in the mathematics world (and later in the online world) for his elaborate paper-polyhedron models — in his home at St. John’s Abbey outside Minneapolis. Not only did she photograph Wenninger and his works, she got him to open up about his history and his methodology as well.
When we're asked by other journalists to talk about the evolution of American design, we pretty much always point to the same thing: the rise of independent designers and studios producing and selling their own work. Young American designers have increasingly become entrepreneurs in the past ten years, leveraging local manufacturing resources and online shopping platforms in order to bypass the need to wait around for big brands to do it for them. The latest such endeavor is Good Thing, a new company founded by designer Jamie Wolfond and based in New York that launches next week at NY NOW. Good Thing's first collection consists of nine products by six different designers, from a sand-cast aluminum trivet to a coiled-plastic vase to a handmade clay mug. We spoke to Wolfond about the new venture and how he's making it work.
Every summer, the Stockholm-based, Scottish-born designer David Taylor retreats to his family's cottage in the Swedish countryside for a spell and spends his days foraging in the woods. It isn't greens and mushrooms he's after, though, but slag — the decidedly un-edible clumps of waste compounds left behind in the production of metal. Taylor's cottage happens to be in a town called Hälleförsnäs, also home to an iron foundry that was built in the 1600s and shut down for good in 2006. "Slag can still be found just about everywhere around here," Taylor says. "It’s a worthless by-product that was produced in huge quantities and mostly just dumped out of sight in the forest for centuries." For a recent project that debuted during the Saatchi Gallery's Collect fair in May, Taylor gathered up chunks of the stuff and upcycled them into a series of colorful candlesticks.
When we first took notice of Los Angeles ceramicist Morgan Peck in 2012, it was because she had suddenly become ubiquitous in the concept-shop scene, with her vessels and abstract mini-sculptures popping up at all of our favorite places (Mociun, Totokaelo, Iko Iko). Now that she's moved into an entirely new territory — the art world — with the opening of her solo show at LA's Jancar Jones Gallery last week, we figured it was the perfect time to revisit her work. We asked Peck for her thoughts on her change of scenery, and how her sculptures have made the transition from shelf to plinth. "When Ava and Eric offered me the opportunity to have a show at Jancar Jones last February the first thing I thought was: Are you sure?" she says.
Barcelona-based Rosa Rubio founded Los Objetos Decorativos with a focus on creating editions of handcrafted objects designed to forge a subconscious emotional bond with their owners. Her first collection consisted of Surrealist, unconventionally tactile brushes and mirrors outfitted with ostrich feathers and synthetic hair, while her newest series — Obj. No. 5, 6, 7, and 8 — is meant to evoke the emblems of an imaginary tribe or clan. "Their patterns provide a feeling of belonging," says Rubio, which in turn conveys a sense of "protection" and "gratification, which every culture stores through these kind of elements." The one-of-a-kind pieces are made from recycled textiles which Rubio has embellished with dried plants and small clay beads.
With a debut solo show at Matter in April and a major presentation last week at Sight Unseen OFFSITE, up-and-coming furniture designer Ian Stell has had the opportunity to introduce his kinetic, transformable furniture to quite a few people this spring. Yet most of them, apparently, have read it completely wrong. "I've gotten comments recently from people who ... assumed I have an engineering background or was trained as an architect, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth," he recently told photographer Rob Howard, on whose portfolio site we recently discovered dozens of shots of Stell at home in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and at his nearby studio.
Partners in both life and work, Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza share a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where they run an art practice together as well as a design company called Chiaozza. Yet the first two things they ever collaborated on belonged to neither of those disciplines: One was a stew they made for dinner soon after they began dating — which took so long to cook that joking about it inspired their eventual website name, eternitystew.com — and the other was the pancakes they made the next morning. “We were fascinated by their topography, so we took some printmaking ink, inked up a pancake, and started making monoprints with them,” Frezza recalls. “That was when it began, this idea of turning our everyday life and domestic play into some kind of product or work.” Two and a half years later, it’s still the motivation underlying many of their colorful projects, which they characterize as existing at the "intersection of imagination and the natural world."