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Future Tropes at Volume Gallery

"Timeless" is probably the most overused — and abused — word in design in recent years, typically employed by designers in the context of sustainability in order to imply that a piece has such a classic look or function that its expected longevity can somehow justify its existence in a sea of wastefulness and overproduction. Future Tropes, a new group show that opened this past weekend at Chicago's Volume Gallery, approaches the concept of timelessness from a very different angle, however: "The work should be slightly ahead of the world, slightly un-contemporary, setting the stage for future codes yet operating in a place that precedes our ability to apply language to those codes." (—Jan Verwoert, as adjusted by RO/LU.) In other words, objects that are equally linked to our prehistoric past and our distant, utopian future. Volume curators Sam Vinz and Claire Warner proposed that brief to Leon Ransmeier, ROLU, Jonathan Muecke, Tanya Aguiñiga, Jonathan Olivares, and Anders Ruhwald, who exchanged ideas on the topic before each creating a custom piece responding to it. See the results after the jump.
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Week of August 25, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: shockingly beautiful interiors, sophisticated student work, and a surprising new (Canadian!) design hub.
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Week of July 7, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: ceramics from a graphic designer, paintings from a lighting designer, and the coolest $300 rock you've ever seen.
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Morgan Peck at Jancar Jones Gallery

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.
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Tauba Auerbach, Ghost/Ghost, 2013

At Design Miami/Basel and Art Basel 2014

If you've never been to the Swiss version of Art Basel and Design Miami/Basel, what they say about it is pretty much true: If Miami's overall vibe seems to put partying, relaxation, and hedonism first and serious business second, Basel is decidedly the other way around. People wear more clothes in Basel. Everything is twice as expensive. If there's one obvious advantage — for a journalist or casual observer — to attending Basel over Miami, it's that you're far less likely to be distracted by hangovers, pool parties, boozy brunches, and beach FOMO. You spend the entire day scrutinizing the actual work, and if you're lucky, like we were, you come home with a camera full of satisfying discoveries.
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Creative Women at Work: Kyle DeWoody

If there weren't already plenty of reasons for us to love Kyle DeWoody — her friendliness, her amazing taste, the fact that she's not afraid to rock a baseball cap — she's also a poster child for blurring disciplinary boundaries, something we've long championed as well. She even named her company after the idea: She explains Grey Area, the online gallery she founded with Manish Vora in 2011, as "the undefined space between art and design, where art is made functional and the functional is made art." Even her own background has defied any categorization: Before founding Grey Area, she moved from curating to art consulting to design to film production and journalism. (In fact, DeWoody hooked up with Vora when he was running the arts website Art Log, for whom she used to write.) Her wide-ranging interests are in part what make Grey Area so great — the gallery sells everything from plush, hand-stitched Sharpies to elegant leaning brass bar carts, from plaster iPhone pillows by Snarkitecture to cat-themed beach towels by Andrew Kuo. DeWoody is constantly scouting new talent from unexpected sources, so for our Creative Women at Work series with Shinola, we got in touch to find out exactly how she does it. Here are some of her workplace essentials.
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On the wall, a work by Brooklyn-based artist Carrie Schneider. It’s a portrait of her brother, who appeared in her series of creepy-funny photographs exploring the boundaries of sibling relationships, Derelict Self. Meloche recently posed for a portrait as part of Schneider’s Reading Women project. Her book of choice for the shot: Grace Coddington’s memoir.

Monique Meloche, Chicago Gallerist

When Monique Meloche took a chance on opening a Chicago gallery back in 2000, she launched with a show called Homewrecker, for which she invited 30 artists to exhibit over all three floors of her Ukrainian Village townhouse. The huge turnout prompted her to find a more permanent spot, as did gentle prodding from her husband. “He was like, ‘Sorry, I don’t want people sitting on my bed watching videos on Saturday when I come home from the gym.’” But while her home is no longer on public view, it remains a kind of lived-in display of contemporary paintings, photography, and sculptural works by artists she represents along with those she simply loves. We were lucky enough to visit recently and get to know Meloche a bit better.
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Renate Müller at R & Company

Renate Müller is 68 years old and has been designing children's toys for half a century, some of which she created for her family's toy factory in Sonneberg, Germany, in the '60s and '70s, and the rest of which she still makes by hand in her nearby studio, as part of the personal line she began in 1978. The materials she uses for that line have stayed exactly the same ever since (jute, wood, leather), as has her process and her policy of working alone, save for the occasional hand lent by her daughter. Many of her animal typologies have remained perennial, too. Yet when it came time to create 26 new pieces for her second solo show at New York design gallery R & Company, which opened yesterday, Müller decided to bust out a pretty major — and amusing — twist: Surrealist creatures with two heads, or no heads, that only someone with a very vivid, childlike sense of imagination could possibly dream up.
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Kueng Caputo: Never Too Much at Salon 94

Kueng Caputo’s first moment of fame came a few years ago from a series called “Copy,” where the two design-school friends would purposefully mimic a recently released work from a major talent by creating an exaggerated or distilled fakery of that piece. The process was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to the original artists as well as a way for Sarah Kueng and Lovis Caputo to explore how those pieces had acquired their specific character or value. Whatever lessons they learned from that experiment must have stuck, for in the last two years, the Swiss design duo have released two collections that seem predestined for design greatness.
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What inspires your work in general? “I find a lot of design very formulaic. Take a ‘concept’ (which usually means simple visual inspiration) and then water it down.  For me, it’s always been the opposite.  I try and let anything that’s happening in my life into the work. We have this idea that design shouldn't be too complex, but the objects I love are always very difficult to place. Lately I've been thinking about how there’s no longer separation between any kind of spaces or thoughts. I think that kind of haphazardness needs to show up in design. In the studio I call it the wild card; for instance, the wedge on the neon table is totally the wild card. The surface is very Memphis, but gouged into an ebonized wood chunk. They feel right together, but it’s because we're getting so accustomed to this phenomena.”

24-Year-Old Misha Kahn May End Up Being Our Biggest Discovery Yet

The first time we met Misha Kahn, he was slapping gold metallic wallpaper with long-lashed googly eyes onto the walls of a tiny room we’d afforded four RISD students at our 2011 Noho Design District showcase. We were never sure quite what to make of the wallpaper — was it technically even “furniture design,” or was it more a piece of Surrealist art? — but we knew from first sight that we loved it. Which is pretty much how we’ve felt about all of the work that’s followed from the Brooklyn-based, Duluth, Minnesota–born designer’s studio, whether it’s a pink bench made from layers of resin and trash, a series of tables that resemble Froebel blocks on acid, or sewn cement pieces that look like the work of a woozy Jeff Koons.
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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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The Campana Brothers at Friedman Benda

If you’re a longtime reader of Sight Unseen, you know it’s rare that we write about a big-name designer. In part, it’s a question of access — it’s far easier to get an RCA grad on the phone than, say, Hella Jongerius. But it’s also a question of ubiquity: If you read a bunch of design blogs, you’re going to hear about something like Yves Behar’s new Smart Lock until your face falls off. But the Campana Brothers — despite being one of the biggest names in design — have somehow always eluded that extreme ubiquity.
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