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Let’s All Take a Moment to Appreciate Tokujin Yoshioka

These days we tend to think of Yoshioka as an old-guard stalwart who makes interesting immersive installations for brands, and nice-enough objects for Glas Italia. So we thought it was worth a reminder that he was one of the godfathers of the current craze for transparent furniture, and that he also made upholstered pieces that — had they been released today — would have been among the best things we'd seen all year.
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Japanese Printmaker Kumi Sugai

Japanese Printmaker Kumi Sugai

As anyone familiar with our Pinterest account (or our archive content) is well aware, we kind of have a thing for unearthing vintage gems. So we were pretty psyched when Ryland's internet searching led us to the Japanese painter and printmaker Kumi Sugai, who died in 1996 but whose work remains completely contemporary and relevant today.
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The Prettiest Plants and Pots You’ve Ever Seen

A new book documents the jaw-dropping collaboration between Japanese plant whisperer Kohei Oda and longtime Sight Unseen favorite Adam Silverman, who over the past year have made a series of potted cacti that are amazing in their complete and total eccentricity.
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Andy Rementer & Margherita Urbani in Tokyo

We here at Sight Unseen consider ourselves to be relatively worldly — I say this literally as Monica touches down in Norway — but if there's one place that's proved a holy grail for the both of us, it's Japan. We've never had the opportunity nor the funds to go, despite being relatively obsessed with the idea of both shopping and scouting there. So when two of our most visually attuned friends offered to provide us with a diary of sorts during their recent trip there, we jumped at the chance: Philadelphia-based partners-in-crime Andy Rementer and Margherita Urbani (whom many of you likely know from their collaborations in Apartamento magazine) were recently in Tokyo for two weeks.
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Matthias Kaiser, artist

I had a long conversation over email this week with Matthias Kaiser, whose masterful ceramic work was a personal highlight of the show I curated for Sight Unseen OFFSITE earlier this year. The exchange reaffirmed my sometimes-waning faith in ceramics, or in anything that suddenly becomes so widely hyped that it can feel like we’re too busy being professionals to remember what struck us through about the practice in the first place. Kaiser, who now lives in the Austrian countryside having previously apprenticed with Japanese master potters and spent a combined two years traveling on the Indian subcontinent, speaks with the deep humility that comes with not taking shortcuts — with digging for your own clay, for example, or moving to Isfahan to study Sufi mysticism. He compares himself to “bad clay,” talks about how losses are a part of the game, and makes a joke about beards.
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Kyouei’s Dish of Light and Random Musical Box

When the latest projects from the Japanese design company Kyouei came across the transom this weekend, we felt a bit like grandmothers. Which is odd, because we're not old enough to be anyone's grandmother, much less a Japanese product designer and sound producer who's nine years our elder. But there was still a burst of "my how you've grown" pride bubbling up, considering we discovered Kouichi Okamoto's firm back in our early I.D. magazine days, when he was still doing clever little Droog-ish housewares like light bulb–shaped paper lanterns and bowls that imitated crater lakes — before the vast majority of our fellow Americans even knew Kyouei existed. And look at Okamoto now! Making sophisticated sound machines, musical tables, and these amazing iron lamps that evoke modernist sculpture.
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Okuda's Shaped Bookends are now for sale in the Sight Unseen Shop! Follow this link to buy a pair or two!

Shin Okuda (an excerpt from Paper View)

Today, we introduced a selection of housewares to the Sight Unseen Shop, including Shin Okuda's whimsical plywood and steel Shaped Bookends. We thought this was the perfect opportunity to introduce you to the Los Angeles designer's inspirations and work, which we originally showcased in Paper View, Sight Unseen's first-ever printed edition. Though the book has a limited run, copies are still for sale in our online shop. Get yours here before it's too late, and read on to find out more about one of our favorite up and coming designers.
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From left, on an IKO WAKA big dot paper print: Rattan Takraw ball, nabeshiki trivet, vintage pink streamer, glazed dish from Hagi, IKO IKO hand-cast bronze bangle, nabeshiki trivet. “I had been looking for something everyone in Japan used, the kind of thing you’d see on everyone’s table. All the houses we went to had these woven trivets, which are only made in Okinawa. I saw them at department stores, so I don’t think they’re seen as these highly prized craft objects. It’s more that people use them, and they happen to be a cool design. But everyone does recognize that they always come from Okinawa, which is an idea we’ve lost in America. While our objects may be designed here, we always know they’re from another place, which takes away that regional or local feel.”

Kristin Dickson of L.A.’s Iko Iko

Inside Kristin Dickson’s store Iko Iko in L.A.’s Echo Park neighborhood, there are polka dot shirts and wooden knitting needles, zig-zag coathooks and Mexican moccasins, ceramic urns and jars of jam. There are selections from Dickson’s crystal and vintage-book collections — the latter with titles like “On Weaving” or “On Fiberworks” — plus pieces from her boyfriend Shin Okuda’s furniture line Waka Waka. And as of this month, these items were joined by a haul of objects from a three-week trip the couple took to Okuda’s native Japan, where the fare spanned vintage textiles to traditional trivets to novelties like toothpaste and black Q-tips. It’s a credit to the pair’s curating talents that the shop nevertheless feels like the product of a coherent vision. “I focus on work that balances high design with craft and traditional processes,” says Dickson. “I want it to be a fun exploration of textures, cultural artifacts, utilitarian objects, and beautiful curiosities.”
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Ceramics: "For centuries, British porcelain makers were fascinated with Asian-style ceramics, so it's interesting to see people applying this old idea in new ways," says O'Neal. The artist Brendan Lee Tang, for example, sculpts playful, Manga– and pop-art-inspired armatures around what appear to be traditional Chinese Ming Dynasty vases.

AvroKo’s Anglo-Asian Influences

For the designers behind AvroKo, the New York firm known for its high-concept restaurant interiors, the most personal projects often start out as group obsessions. Lately, apropos of nothing, they’ve been compiling a collection of silent video clips featuring modern furniture or architecture, snipped from movies or pulled from obscure design archives. So far it’s just a game — “a meme floating around the office,” as partner Kristina O’Neal puts it — but the first time the team was so possessed, they began with a bank of photographs and ended up opening a restaurant. After securing several projects in Asia a few years back, they began carefully documenting the bizarre cultural mash-ups they found while on trips out East, from mangled English translations to neon-lit religious altars; in 2008 they opened Double Crown in New York's East Village as an homage to their Anglo-Asian fascination, with food evoking the 19th-century British occupation of India, China, and Singapore. With a new AvroKo office in Hong Kong fielding projects like the recently opened New York–style eatery Lily in Bloom, their anthropological depository keeps growing.
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BCXSY presented the three finished screens, made from hinoki cypress wood, in the basement of Rossana Orlandi gallery during this spring’s Milan furniture fair — a rectangle, triangle, and circle. “Traditional tategu screens are typically very complex, with lots of geometric or floral patterns,” says Cohen. “We thought that by making the frame itself the shape we were adding only a small twist on what already exists. Turns out it introduced an enormous challenge to Mr. Tanaka, but he was quite happy with the results.” Photo (c) BCXSY

BCXSY’s Join Room Divider

On a sunny afternoon during this spring’s Milan furniture fair, blissfully unaware of the encroaching cloud of ash, I made my way through the maze of exhibitions at Spazio Rossani Orlandi, the former factory turned gallery and shop off Corso Magenta. As usual, there was plenty to see: During the fair, the gallery practically splits its seams with new work, giving over corners of the courtyard and even parts of the stairwell as exhibition space for young talent. In the basement, I encountered a bottleneck. Nearly everyone passing through the room occupied by the Eindhoven-based duo BCXSY was stopping to gape at the young couple’s latest offering: a trio of Japanese screens in hinoki cypress wood, each designed as two geometric shapes intersecting in beautifully woven grids.
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