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Tim Colmant, Illustrator

For everyone who's ever bought, coveted, or loved the famous laminates of the Memphis design group — or is semi-ashamedly stalking the new Nathalie Du Pasquier collection at American Apparel — it is nearly impossible not to fall for the work of the young Belgian illustrator Tim Colmant. We succumbed the moment we discovered his cheerful illustrations a little over a year ago, and went on to recommend him to Jonah Takagi, furniture designer and co-founder of the housewares brand Field, when he curated an exhibition for our Noho Design District event last year. A few weeks ago, we found out that our little matchmaking scheme had evolved even further, into a collaboration between Colmant and Takagi's insanely talented girlfriend Mary Timony, whose new band Ex Hex has hired him to wrap its merch in his signature Microsoft Paint–inspired designs. We figured it was time to check in and see what else Colmant has been up to in the year since we first featured him.
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Cray Collective at Stockholm Design Week

You can sometimes guess at the greatness of an exhibition based purely on its location (a little off-the-beaten track, naturally), or when its roster lists nothing short of five talented up-and-coming designers. With that in mind, it seemed only right to plow the bitter, wintry streets of Stockholm earlier this month to find out more about the new, colorful Cray Collective.
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Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Lost Interview with Ettore Sottsass, From Surface Magazine

It's no secret that we're devotees of the work of the late Italian design legend Ettore Sottsass, but to the extent that everyone we know has been caught up lately in the more superficial elements of his influence — the post-modernist colors, patterns, and geometries — we jumped at the chance to share with you this reminder of his intellectual legacy: one of several previously unpublished interviews with Sottsass conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist in 2001. It was given to us as a little holiday present by Surface magazine's new editor Spencer Bailey, who oversaw its inclusion in the Dec/Jan Art Issue, which was co-edited by ForYourArt founder Bettina Korek and is the fourth since Surface was redesigned and reimagined this past July. Says Bailey: "Last fall, I was talking with Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist over dinner in London about his unpublished interviews with artists and designers. He mentioned that he has several with Ettore Sottsass, so I asked him to send them to me. This one in particular blew me away. Hans Ulrich is a master interviewer, and Sottsass is, well, Sottsass. When I was putting together Surface's first annual Art Issue, I just knew I had to publish it." Sight Unseen is the only place on the web you can read the entire edited interview as it ran in the magazine — check it out after the jump, including images added by us, and don't forget to subscribe to Surface when you're done!
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Week of December 16, 2013

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, and events from the past seven or so days. This week: the best patterns of 2013, a new stationery set by one of our favorite fashion designers (pictured above), Design Prom, and more.
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LDF 2013: So Sottsass at Darkroom London

Had we thought of it ourselves, "That's so Sottsass" is a phrase we might have used hundreds of times over the past five years to describe all the designs spawned by the recent mega-Memphis revival. Crazy colors, clashing patterns, geometric shapes on shapes — it all came rushing back in homage to Ettore and his crew, a fact which the intrepid duo behind our fave London store Darkroom chose to acknowledge this week with the debut of their So Sottsass collection. Launching last night — day one of this year's London Design Festival — the installation includes both Memphis-like objects by outside designers and new pillows and wrapping papers conceived by Darkroom owners Rhonda Drakeford and Lulu Roper-Caldbeck as part of their ongoing in-house collection. There's also an amazing window display by up-and-coming Italian stylists StudioPepe. Drakeford took time out of her crazy LDF schedule to not only share photos of So Sottsass with us, but to tell us the inspiration behind the collection: "At Darkroom, we've always had a penchant for maximalist modernism — bold colour palettes, big patterns, and brave combinations," she says. "In a decade of 'greige,' we love exploring how being bold and playful with design can fit into modern life."
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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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What inspired your Pink/Frequency series? “That title came in a dream. After I woke up I looked it up, and it turns out to be a certain frequency of sound. I was looking at the internet a lot at that time, tumblr and image-based sites mostly. I work intuitively and have learned through experience that form follows feeling. My work from this series is how I came to know that experientially. I was feeling things around the object/image relationship, and I was also interested in art/objects that related to the everyday experience of being. I felt the real art was the art of living.”

Jason Rens, Furniture Designer

Jason Rens’s future as a designer pretty much began — though unbeknownst to him at the time — the day his grandpa bought him a Taliesin West t-shirt. Rens was still a kid growing up in Arizona, and his grandpa, Al Farnsworth, was an architect who liked to make pilgrimages to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed winter home each time he came to visit. When Rens grew up and graduated high school, he worked at a clothing company slash record label for awhile, but then a random job at a design/build company activated some long-dormant impulse buried inside him: I want to be an architect, too. He made it halfway through architecture school in Boulder before shifting gears and finishing his degree in crafts in Portland, where he’s now known for both his interiors and, increasingly, his Rason Jens line of sculptural objects.
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Figures & Routines by Eva Berendes at Jacky Strenz Gallery

Plenty of great artists and art historians have pondered the idea of painting leaving behind or transcending the canvas, but when I visited the Berlin studio of Eva Berendes last winter and heard her talk about her own work's gradual journey beyond frames and stretchers, the first person who came to mind was Bruno Munari. In his amazing little book Design As Art, the Italian icon describes the idea behind his hanging mobiles — aka "Useless Machines" — as an attempt to liberate painting from its fundamentally static nature and give it movement and dimension; Berendes describes her own pieces in much the same way. Despite focusing almost entirely on painting during her graduate studies, she decided to create a free-flowing curtain for her thesis project because she found it somehow liberating, and she's kept dipping her toes into the world of design and objects ever since, blurring the line between two dimensions and three. For her latest project, on view at Berlin's Jacky Strenz Gallery through April 8, she's ventured even further into that world, mounting a jumble of vintage objects, packing materials, and hand-painted silk swatches onto hand-welded black metal grids, thus "abolishing any distinction between the inimitable and the mass-produced."
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Clay Hickson, Illustrator and Printmaker

Clay Hickson's drawings are a psychedelic mind meld of shapes and patterns. Hickson's work is influenced by "1980s post-modern furniture design" and a dash of "Northern-California-New-Age-Hippy." Pictured here are his 2011–2013 pencil drawings of imagined interiors featuring Hickson's favorite furniture, mostly Memphis-era designs. Hickson hails from the Bay Area of California and currently resides in Chicago. Most recently he's acquired a Risograph printer and is carving out a groove for himself in the home publishing scene.
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The Fancy World by Matt Paweski

If there was ever a time when artists and designers could remain shrouded, Wizard of Oz-like, behind a curtain of mystery and intrigue, that time — partly thanks to sites like ours — is almost certainly past. Granted most artists still don't have their own websites, and most of their galleries are pitiful at conveying background info, but this being the information age, some blogger or curator never fails to come along and connect the dots. In the case of Matt Paweski, it may very well end up being Sight Unseen that gets to do the honors. While the Los Angeles–based artist is showing an exciting new body of work called "The Fancy World" at South Willard at the moment, so far there's very little to be gleaned about him anywhere online. We fell so in love with the new pieces, which are furniture-like in form if not entirely in function, that we set the wheels in motion for a more in-depth studio visit with Paweski in the spring. You'll get to know him better at that point, but for now, the Michigan-born talent was kind enough to tell us more about "The Fancy World," whose pieces are pictured in this post: "The fine line between something working or not is a place my work constantly returns to," he says.
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A 20th Century Palate in The Gourmand Issue 00

In the summer before starting Sight Unseen, one of us had a very brief flirtation with the idea of attending culinary school. Along with design, food is our great love, so we were pleased this week — and maybe even a little bit jealous — to stumble upon a new magazine out of London that unites the two disciplines in the most fantastic of ways. Called The Gourmand, the first issue tackles subjects ranging from David Shrigley's new cookery-themed opera to Jeff Koons's recipe for apple dumplings. But our favorite feature — plucked from the site's website, which has a sprinkling of teasers for the print edition as well as practical food recommendations from artists, contributors and London's culinary cognescenti — has to be this collaboration between art director Jamie Brown and photographer Luke Kirwan, which depicts 20th century art and design movements in foodstuffs like American cheese and pink wafer cookies.
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