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2014, Part III

This week we announced the 2014 American Design Hot List, Sight Unseen's unapologetically subjective annual editorial award for the 25 names to know now in American design. We're devoting an entire week to interviews with this year's honorees — get to know the next five Hot List designers here.
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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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"I've been making these desert tumblers since last winter, and the color palatte is inspired by the 
Southwest, which is a place I've romanticized and wanted to visit since I was in high school. I drove around New Mexico for a week on my trip and pulled over whenever I saw that red earth 
I had in mind when I made this cup. I took this one in Abiquiu."

Helen Levi in the American Southwest

Sometime in the past year, Brooklyn potter Helen Levi began making her popular Desert Tumblers, which evoke a kind of faded, windswept, Southwestern landscape by marbling white porcelain with sandy red clay. But the funny thing is, until this summer, New York–born Levi had never even been to the desert. "I’d been wanting to go to New Mexico since high school," she says. "That landscape has always been kind of a dreamy thought, but my tumblers were based on my imagination of a place I'd never seen." This summer, Levi decided to bite the bullet, taking a month off from work to road trip 7,000 miles — all the way to Albuquerque and back — making sure to stop along the way at places like the Pittsburgh factory where her clay is made and leaving enough time to simply wander off the road in search of this country's vast natural beauty.
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Creative Women at Work: Bec Brittain

It's amazing what a difference five years makes. When we first profiled New York lighting Bec Brittain in 2009, she was an artist and creative director at Lindsey Adelman's studio, but her own design portfolio was so slim we featured only one of her creations: a chandelier she'd made for her own home out of off-the-shelf parts from McMaster-Carr. Fast forward five years and Brittain, who left Adelman's studio to form a solo practice in 2011, is now one of the most exciting, in-demand lighting designers on the American design scene.
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Seattle Still Lifes, By Photographer Charlie Schuck

Every creative scene has an unseen hand, the type of person who seems to know everyone, touch everything, and generally act as the glue holding it all together, all while falling just below the radar of the average outside observer. In the Seattle design world, Charlie Schuck fits that profile to a tee. A photographer and the proprietor of the former brick and mortar storefront Object — which he filled with commissions by designers from around the Pacific Northwest — he not only produces stunning product shots for locals like Totokaelo, Iacoli & McAllister, Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, and Filson, he also curates exhibitions, like the recent pop-up Future This Now and an upcoming museum survey of regional talents. He's so committed to his role, in fact, that when we approached him about doing a story on his own work, he came back with the idea to do a photo essay on everyone else's: "A still life series of personal items that speak to the influences of Seattle creatives," he says. "Objects from those who produce objects."
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Dixonary

If we had to elect the most Sight Unseen–like book ever published, Tom Dixon's Dixonary might land at the very top of that list. In the intro he writes, "A book about me? I wasn't sure I needed one — at least until I am dead, at which point people can write what they like." But personally we wish this kind of book existed for all of our favorite visual artists. In it, Dixon pairs photographs of his own designs, dating all the way back to his early-'80s punk days, with the images that inspired them, and then tells the micro-stories behind each one.
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Katy Horan, Artist

Sighted on the illustration blog Pikaland, an interview with artist Katy Horan, whose intricate paintings channel Victorian mourning rituals, ghost stories, children's books, and traditional feminine crafts. Of her folk-art influences, she says: "All these art forms that at one point may have been considered outside or less-than by the contemporary art world can make our work so much more interesting and dynamic. There has been a noticeable acceptance of (for lack of a better term) 'low brow' art forms such as illustration and folk art lately, and I think it’s a very exciting development for the art world."
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