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At the 2014 Milan Furniture Fair, Part II

Though we're back from Milan and already knee-deep in planning for our own design fair next month (eek!), we'll be bringing you highlights from the Italian capital all this week. Today we're focusing on our favorites from the fairgrounds, like Front's beautiful chairs for Moroso (above). The fair this year was visually quite strong, with last year's obsessive booth styling taken to even greater heights. (We actually begged the Arper folks to put some of their styling pieces into production!). The fair is also where the trends we'd been thinking about began to seriously take shape. What was in this year? Though everyone still loves that pastel mint and pink palette, we saw tons of putty — yes, putty — and other assorted non-hues (most of which didn't make it into this round-up, since we're suckers for color). For more of our take, read on, then click through to our Facebook album and come back tomorrow for more from the offsite shows.
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The Tortoise Shell Trend is Back, And We’ve Got the Proof

We've been in Milan at the furniture fair all week, and though we'll be posting more extensive coverage over the next few days, we wanted to begin by featuring a duo that's fast becoming an old favorite of ours, despite hardly being out of school. We've featured the work of ÉCAL alumni Josephine Choquet and Virgile Thévoz twice before, but when we saw them with a booth at this year's Salone Satellite — the Milan fair's showcase of up-and-coming talents — we knew we had to share their new work. The brass and acetate Acapulco lights at the top of this post employ the same materials as their sunglasses to fantastic effect, while their new mirrors play with something that was a major trend at this year's fair — iridescence. Inspired by a bubble’s prismatic surface, the mirrors are available in three colors that change according to your point of view. The London-bound duo are certainly ones to watch.
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Local Made at Space Ninety 8

When The Future Perfect abandoned its original Brooklyn location last summer, we thought we might never feel the need to shop on that particular block of Williamsburg again. The Future Perfect's gorgeous digs got turned into a Gant, and for years we've felt we were a little too old for American Apparel. But come next Thursday, we'll be making that trek on the L train again: Urban Outfitters is opening a concept shop on North Sixth Street called Space Ninety 8, complete with rotating gallery spaces, a restaurant, a rooftop bar, and, of course, clothing. But the draw for us will be located smack in the front window. That's where a showcase called Local Made will take place, curated by Urban's director of brand relations and special projects Marissa Maximo, who scoured the borough, commissioning exclusives from some of our favorite designers.
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Introducing Your Newest New York Design Week Destination

Here at Sight Unseen HQ, we've been keeping some pretty major news under wraps for a few months now, but it's time to finally let the cat out of the bag. If you've been reading our site, you know that we founded and ran the Noho Design District, a satellite show during ICFF, for four years. This year we made the tough decision to retire the NDD and launch in its place a new event that shares our namesake: Introducing Sight Unseen OFFSITE, a brand new design fair happening in New York from May 16-20, 2014, that will feature a curated selection of furniture and product launches by the best independent designers and forward-thinking brands, all under one gigantic roof.
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Ornsbergsauktionen 2014

If you're a longtime reader of our site, you might remember that February, despite being utterly gross in the weather department, is one of our favorite months if only for the Ornsbergsauktionen, an artist-run auction house that's taken place during each of the past three Stockholm Design Weeks. Started by Fredrik Paulsen, Simon Klenell, and Kristoffer Sundin, the auction gathers together limited editions and one-offs from designers we already know and love — Katja Pettersson, Uglycute, Silo Studio, Hilda Hillström — and always introduces us to a handful we can't wait to Google. This year, in addition to furniture and objects, the three also managed to wrangle works on paper from the Memphis Group's still-prolific Peter Shire and Nathalie du Pasquier. We've included a selection of our favorites below, but for the full catalogue, visit the (gorgeously designed) catalog website or see the objects in person if you're in Stockholm, on view through Friday!
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Jesse Moretti at Mondo Cane

A few weeks ago, someone on our Facebook page coined the term "zigzag expressionism" to describe the current prevailing aesthetic in art and graphic design. At the time, we laughed, gave the comment a thumbs up, and moved on. But in the weeks since, the phrase has stuck with us — and never more so than when we caught a glimpse on Instagram of the work of recent Cranbrook MFA grad Jesse Moretti, on view now at Mondo Cane gallery in New York. What we like about this phrase in general is its laughable obviousness, but in the context of Moretti's work it actually does describe not only a visual language but a thematic one as well.
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Furniture 2013 at Johnson Trading Gallery

We suppose a lot could be made of the fact that Paul Johnson’s usually private Johnson Trading Gallery is finally opening its doors for an exhibition at the same time that both the Collective Design Fair and the Frieze Art Fair descend on New York City — and of the fact that Johnson’s former cinema­–turned–gallery space is located in Nowheresville, Queens, pretty much smack in the middle between Collective’s Chelsea pier and Frieze’s takeover of Roosevelt Island. After all, the gallery has always been on the fringes of both design and art, what with its carefully groomed roster of young talent making things that sometimes count as furniture in name only (Aranda/Lasch’s industrial rubber–sprayed Modern Primitives chair comes to mind). But to tell the truth, we’re pretty tired of the whole design vs. art debate at this point. It’s been nearly two years since Johnson hosted an exhibition in New York, and considering this one’s meant to celebrate four young designers who’ve barely yet made a blip on the scene, we were more interested to see what exactly Johnson’s been up to in his far-out lair and who he’s been scouting in the interim.
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Poetic Lab & Studio Shikai, Designers

As anyone who’s spent even a passing amount of time with us knows, one of our favorite games is playing “spot the next design star.” There are lots of places to look, of course — our most recent obsession being the treasure trove that is Instagram — but the granddaddy of them all is Salone Satellite, the young designers showcase that sets up shop on the edge of Milan’s fairgrounds each year. Before blogs, before ICFF Studio, before the London Design Festival even existed, there was Satellite, which in the past has been a launching pad for designers like Front, Nendo, Paul Loebach, Jonah Takagi, and Matali Crasset, to name a few.
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Last project you worked on: “I’ve been collaborating more with Kristoffer recently as together we can take on much larger commissions. We recently designed an office and a shop interior here in Stockholm. I also just made a side table for a plant for in my house.”

Fredrik Paulsen, furniture designer

Fredrik Paulsen’s work, both as a designer and as a co-founder of Stockholm’s brilliant Örnsbergsauktionen is shaking the foundations of what you think Scandinavian design ought to be. “Here you are taught to produce work for the everyman,” Paulsen says. “It’s the legacy of IKEA: Good design for everyone. But if your work doesn’t really fit into mass production and it is not intended for it, then there is no platform or venue to show it.” It was this void that led Paulsen and his friends and fellow designers Simon Klenell and Kristoffer Sundin to stage their first auction during last year’s Stockholm’s Design Week. They invited contemporaries — some they knew, others they only knew of — to submit diverse, self-made works that went beyond the cookie-cutter forms they’d grown tired of, and put them up for bidding. It paid off.
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New Jewelry by Nhat-Vu Dang

Sometimes we furiously scour the internet or go gallery-hopping for inspiration. But sometimes, new good things just fall into our laps (something for which we’re particularly grateful on these tough days back after a holiday!) Case in point: These amazing new necklaces and brooches by recent Rietveld Academy grad Nhat-Vu Dang, which arrived in our inbox yesterday. It’s no secret we love ourselves a large, mixed-media necklace, and these fit the bill nicely, made from glass, wood, paint, high-density foam, and epoxy (the brooches are foam and steel). The new pieces, on view at the Amsterdam jewelry gallery Rob Koudijs through the end of February, are an extension of Dang’s graduation project: sculptural pieces of jewelry made from gray cardboard, which revealed hidden flashes of color when worn. The new pieces, says curator Ward Schrijver, are even more conceptual but no less covetable.
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