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Our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide — Ryland’s Picks

Welcome to Sight Unseen’s annual holiday gift guide! This week, we’re sharing our best, most covetable, seriously-buy-me-now finds from around the web. We’ve narrowed it down to 25 items from each editor — a herculean task when it’s basically your job to source cool things all year round. Next up is Ryland, whose wish list this year runs the gamut from cubist mirrors to cheese boards.
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The Spectrum Issue of Gather Journal

Since its launch in 2012, each issue of the biannual food journal Gather has been organized around a theme, but this summer's is by far our favorite. We're excerpting a story from “Spectrum,” an entire issue devoted to color.
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Top 5: Beach Towels

A periodic nod to object typologies both obscure and ubiquitous, featuring five of our favorite recent examples. Today, the subject is beach towels, whose increasingly complex graphic patterns offer more ways than ever to stand out on the sand.
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We also noticed this amazing steel sculpture in the yard of one of the artisans on the main street; we later learned it was the work of Howard Smith, an American-born artist who moved to Fiskars in 1998 with his wife, the ceramicist Erna Altonen (more on this sweet couple later!)

In Finland

If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you know that we are, above all, sunshine-seeking people who happen to be inextricably linked to New York and its fickle seasons. Normally we leap at the chance to hightail it off the East Coast anytime between November and April, in search of beaches, pools, palm trees, and vitamin D. But somehow, while Monica and the rest of the design world headed to Miami at the beginning of December, I found myself saying yes to a week in Finland, home of 30-degree temperatures and 3PM sunsets. When I arrived, no fewer than three people delighted in telling me that the previous month in Finland had seen only 15 hours of sunshine.
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Adi Goodrich at The Standard, Hollywood

In her day-to-day job as a set designer, Adi Goodrich constructs elaborate environments with her crew on set or in the studio, but the rest of world experiences her work only through photographs. As of last night, however, you can view the Los Angeles designer's work IRL in an installation on view until the end of December at The Standard, Hollywood hotel.
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Romy Northover, Ceramicist

Ten years ago, Romy Northover was a student at Goldsmith College, an incredibly conceptual art school in London that she found to be grueling. “I’m a kinesthetic learner,” says the now Brooklyn-based ceramicist. “I figure things out by doing them, not just by thinking about them. I’m not an intellectual; it’s more experiential for me. But those were important years because they got me to where I am now.”
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And this one, night night, from 2014. These are found, painted metal pipes that Coolquitt wired up and riveted.

Andy Coolquitt, Artist

“It was a weird thing for a kid growing up in a Baptist family to collect,” says Andy Coolquitt of the whiskey bottles that formed his earliest stockpile. “I was interested in the beautiful, sculptural shapes of the bottles and the graphic design of the labels. It was something we didn’t have in our house, so it was a bit exotic. I had them displayed in this little cave-like space off the garage.” The now Austin-based artist was raised in Mesquite, Texas, in what he describes as a “bland, boring suburban existence,” with little “interest in visual culture.” Rebellion came in the form of “having a whole lot of stuff around me and letting that stuff dictate my aesthetic.” Since then, Coolquitt has literally turned obsessive scavenging into an art form. Metal pipes and tubing, plastic lighters, aluminum cans — these are just a few of the found materials he repurposes and transforms, setting them up in conversation with each other and giving them a life-like, almost human quality.
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Jamie Wolfond of Good Thing

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.
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Week of July 14, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: experimental materials made from chalk and coal (above), a new Book/Shop annex in New York, and our first-ever radio show interview, with Design Sponge's Grace Bonney.
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Chad Kouri, artist

Chad Kouri took his first freelance design gig at the tender age of just 15, but like most creatives, Kouri had trouble at first striking a balance between paying the bills and pursuing his passions. “I moved to Chicago after high school to study design, but knew I didn’t have enough money to finish a four-year program. So I took as many classes as I could and then jumped out to work for a marketing firm, which was not at all fulfilling. I was basically designing junk mail for five years. After hours, I’d work on editorial illustrations or custom typography, but I quickly realized I didn’t enjoy being on a computer 16 hours a day. I started doing collage as a way to break away from screen time. I used to reference a lot of old ads and typography from the ’50s and ’60s, and I wanted to work larger but the pieces could only be as big as a magazine page. That’s how I transitioned to using flat shape and color, and that’s pretty much where I’m at in this experiment of an art career that I have.”
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Pouches from Collection One by Otaat/Myers Collective, which will soon expand into larger accessories and housewares. For Chu, the classic example of a subtle intervention is “the box with a twist, where maybe creating one parametric surface may be all you need to generate a series of inventive solutions across the design. This practice is how we both approach our individual projects as well as our collaboration.”

Otaat / Myers Collective

If the best reason to know the rules is to be smarter about breaking them, then consider the year-old collaboration between designers Albert Chu and Jennifer Myers not so much a violent upheaval but an exercise in playfully tweaking the system. Chu and Myers met while studying at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design — an institution they say reinforced their respect for constraints — and each worked in architecture and launched an accessories line before combining their shared pedagogy into a series of leather and brass pouches. “I think working within, and rebelling against, a set of parameters is actually the ultimate in design fun,” Myers says. Chu agrees: “We love working with fundamentals and trying to introduce a slight deviation,” says the designer of Otaat, which stands for “one thing at a time.” “Harvard was about being restrained in the conceptual and design intervention, that sometimes the most effective and thorough result could arise from a minimal, subtle act.”
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