Detroit designer Chris Schanck at Friedman Benda

In a New Show, Chris Schanck Debuts Furniture Fit for an Alien King

If you're familiar with Detroit-based designer Chris Schanck's work, you can probably easily conjure an image of it in your mind — primitive yet shiny, lumpen yet somehow slick at the same time. Since 2011, when he was an MFA student at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Schanck has been developing and refining a technique he calls Alufoil, which is responsible for that shiny, otherworldly aesthetic — it often looks as though Schanck is making executive furniture for an alien king.
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These Four Designers Have One (Very Important) Thing in Common

Their disciplines may be wildly diverse — elaborate rope vessels, hand-woven textiles, minimalist furniture made from stone and metal, maximalist furniture made from aluminum foil — but there's one thing Doug Johnston, Begum Cana Ozgur, Nina Cho, and Chris Schanck all have in common, and we asked them all to talk about it.
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Nina Cho, Furniture Designer

“One of the most important ideas in traditional Korean architecture and art is the aesthetic of emptiness — practicing the beauty of the void,” Nina Cho explains to me over the phone from her studio in Detroit, where she recently set up camp after graduating from Cranbrook. “In painting, the unpainted portion is as important as the portion that was painted; it’s about respecting the emptiness as much as the object.” Cho should know; she was born in the States but grew up in Seoul, and as a child she would often visit traditional Korean architecture sites. But little did she know the impact those visits would have on her future career.
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Shinola’s Daniel Caudill in Detroit

It wasn't too long ago that bringing up Detroit made people feel sad. For decades it was America's most downtrodden city; the first and only time I visited, 15 years ago, at age 19, I gasped dramatically upon arrival that it looked like its downtown had literally been bombed out and abandoned. But two or three years ago, Detroit got a brand new narrative, unfortunately by way of an annoyingly over-baked media frenzy that branded it the next hipster haven, complete with coffee shops, urban farms, and its first Whole Foods. The arrival of Shinola — which opened a watch factory and bicycle workshop there last year — quickly became a part of that narrative, even moreso when it opened its second retail location in New York a few months ago and began introducing the East Coast to its $2,000 artisanal bicycles and handmade leather goods. And yet the company is playing an important part in what's really going on in Detroit, beyond all the coffee shops and organic foods, which is that it's in the process of replacing parts of its failed industrial economy with a creative one, and that its residents and legislators are counting on that renewal to get the city back on its feet.
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Jack Craig on L’ArcoBaleno

In some ways, L’ArcoBaleno — the new design buying site from Ambra Medda, former founding director of Design Miami — isn’t so different from our own home here on the web. Both sites mix a curated marketplace with original editorial content; both emphasize process and context, and champion emerging talent. But of course here at Sight Unseen, we limit our shop selections to things that can be shipped USPS in a Priority Flat-Rate box. On L’ArcoBaleno, which launched earlier this week, one can purchase — with insured shipping of course — collectible designs from around the globe, ranging from a $23,000 blown-glass totem by newly christened design darling Bethan Laura Wood to a $75,000 Plexiglas and car lacquer dining table by Maria Pergay. The site is bit like a more avant-garde 1stdibs; in fact, it’s a lot like the Design Miami fair itself, if you could make impulse purchases in the Aranda/Lasch pavilion at three in the morning.
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