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The Best of the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair, Part I

Greetings from Milano! Between all the Negronis and risottos, the late-night parties and the trips to Bar Basso, the Sight Unseen team has spent the past week treasure-hunting at the annual Salone del Mobile, and we’re excited to share with you our first batch of finds. This post includes our favorite photos from days 1 and 2 of our trip, but there are many, many more in our Facebook album — click here to check it out! And stay tuned for more! (Above: new copper oxidized True Colours vessels by Lex Pott.) Painted plywood furniture by Schemata Architects / Jo Nagasaki, which we spotted at Rossana Orlandi gallery. Nagasaka is the one who made that amazing fluoro epoxy table a few years back.Bertjan Pot lamp for DHPH at Rossana OrlandiArtist Maurizio Cattelan was hanging in his Toiletpaper for Seletti booth at Rossana Orlandi, playing pranks on passersbyMinale-Maeda mirrors at Rossana OrlandiScene from Nomadismi, an exhibition in Brera curated Li Edelkoort, with Stephen Burks Man-Made totem in the centerNomadismiAnton Alvarez wrapped chairs at NomadismiPierre Favresse table and Nathalie du Pasquier rug at La ChanceSebastian Herkner’s Salut tables at La ChanceSurrealist sculpture in BreraIceland Whale Bones project by ECAL students Brass-based lamps by Be Plus HaveAmazing architectural details abound in MilanBrose Fogale coat rack at DesignjunctionUpstairs at Fritz Hansen, visitors could sit in the new Ro Chair by Jaime Hayon and have their picture taken in front of a green screen. Um, yes please! The resulting photos placed us in 7 iconic cityscapes. We thought this one, in the center of Milan, fit the bill quite nicely! Stay tuned for more Milan coverage, coming soon!
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The Best of the 2012 Milan Furniture Fair, Part III

To quote Pilar Viladas in her roundup on The Moment this week, "Another year, another Milan Furniture Fair." Seriously. The Salone always seems so crazy and exciting while you're actually there — if not important, depending on whether any offerings managed to impress — but looking back on it a week later, it inevitably melts into one big blur of chairs and tables that probably already existed, in one form or another, the year before. With today's album of snapshots, some taken by Future Perfect owner and intrepid reporter Dave Alhadeff and some by the Eindhoven-based designer Max Lipsey, we offer you one last chance to relive the experience of the 2012 fair, up close and personal, before it gets written into the great furniture catalog in the sky. Maybe next year we'll go back ourselves, and remember what the fuss is about all over again. Until then...
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Oeuffice’s Ziggurat Tower for Carwan Gallery

The Milan furniture fair starts next Tuesday and, crazy enough, the editors of Sight Unseen are sitting this one out — we've got too much going on at home this year, between our pop-up shop at Creatures of Comfort and the 2012 Noho Design District, which is shaping up to be much bigger and better than ever. We'll still be reporting on Milan via the snapshots of a select group of friends and collaborators, but meanwhile, we figured we'd at least bring you one or two previews of pieces you'll be seeing next week, beginning with the latest offerings from the Beirut-based Carwan Gallery. Founded by architect Pascale Wakim and jetsetter Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, who's also a partner in Montreal's Samare and the newer Milan-based design outfit Oeuffice, Carwan began its second collection — which technically launched last month at Design Days Dubai — by organizing a field trip of sorts for its designers. Karen Chekerdjian, Khalid Shafar, Lindsey Adelman, Studio mischer'traxler, Nada Debs, Oeuffice, Paul Loebach, Philippe Malouin, and Tamer Nakisci all traveled to the Middle East for a grand tour of artisan's studios, each pairing up with a different craftsperson to produce a new twist on an old archetype or technique. Here, the duo behind Oeuffice, whose work revolves around research into architectural forms, reveal the story behind their contribution to the exhibition, a series of boxes inspired by ancient Middle Eastern structures.
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Ico Parisi, Villa Bolgiana, 1953, Lake Como. “This was the house featured in my Wallpaper story, and it’s part of a group of four adjacent villas all designed by Parisi. The owner let us in, but he didn’t speak English, so we were communicating with our hands and legs. The interior is all original because the original owner was his father; it’s all modernist furniture designed especially for the villa. That’s one thing I love about the period: In contemporary architecture you have Vitra or Magis everywhere, and it’s all uniform, but in the ’50s and ’60s, all of the details and furnishings were exlusively made for each house. Here we found a canvas screen by Mario Radice, an abstract painter who collaborated with Parisi.”

Adam Štěch of Okolo’s Italian Architecture Tour

When Adam Štěch goes on location for Okolo, the Prague-based design blog and magazine he founded with his brother Jakub and graphic designer Matěj Činčera three years ago, he likes to picture himself as a National Geographic reporter. Okolo’s recent Vienna Only issue, for example, became a kind of urban hunting expedition through the wilds of the Austrian capital, while legitimate business trips — like attending the Milan Furniture Fair as an editor for the Prague interiors magazine Dolce Vita — are rife with opportunities for fieldwork. After “cruising around crowded Zona Tortona in the center of design hell,” as the 25-year-old puts it, he’ll often spend a day or two searching out amazing examples of indigenous architecture to document. One such recent excursion to Lake Como entailed a curious encounter with the locals: “We were looking for an Ico Parisi house, for which I knew the district but not the exact address, and there was a single old man walking nearby,” recalls Štěch. “I approached him on a whim, explaining who Parisi was and asking if he knew the house. He picked us up with his car and dropped us off directly in front of it. I love those kinds of stories.” We love them too, which is why we asked Štěch to put together this slideshow sharing some of his favorite moments from his travels in the past few years.
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Sam Baron’s Personal Collections

As a child growing up in the Jura mountains on a small farm on the border between France and Switzerland, the first thing designer Sam Baron remembers collecting were the stickers you scrape from the skins of fruits, heralding their arrival from someplace exotic — tomatoes from Mexico, say, or bananas from Guadeloupe. “For me, it was like a small souvenir from a trip I had never taken, an invitation to think about someplace else and another way of life,” Baron told me from his studio in Lisbon earlier this fall. Of course these days, the designer needn’t only imagine what life is like in faraway places: As head of the design department at Fabrica and a designer for outfits like Ligne Roset, Secondome Gallery, and Bosa Ceramics, Baron’s work has him constantly jetting from Paris to Milan to Treviso, where Fabrica is based; to Venice, where his glassworks are blown; and back to Lisbon, where he recently opened an office with Fabrica alums Gonçalo Campos and Catarina Carreiras, and where he lives with his wife.
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Foraging for Lunch in the Garden With Martino Gamper

Martino Gamper and I are neighbors. His studio sits just across the road from my flat in east London, and he and his wife garden in the communal plots out the back of my block. Their autumn planting — beets, kohlrabi, winter salads, and the last of some impressive tomatoes — was turning me green with envy, so when Sight Unseen suggested I ask Martino for a tour of the plot to talk about both his working and gardening methods, I was secretly hoping to gain a little insight myself, so as to turn my dirt patch into an edible wonderland.
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What inspired your Totems? “For our premiere collection we decided to propose ‘totems for living’ — they’re intended as monolithic objects that dominate the habitat, yet remain entirely functional.”

Oeuffice, Furniture Designers

Had Jakub Zak and Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte met and not formed a partnership, it might have seemed almost sacrilegious, a kind of fuck-you to the gods of fate. After simultaneously studying design in their native Canada, and then again at the very same university in Berlin together, the pair only became aware of one another's existence once they'd both moved to Milan to start their professional lives — Lecompte as a roving member of the Montreal-based Samare studio and Zak as a designer for Patricia Urquiola. As if the shared condition of being the only two Canadians they knew who were actively working in the Milanese design scene weren't enough, they happened to meet at the precise moment in each of their careers where they were yearning to try something independent, experimental, and new. Samare was three years old and growing quite successful, but its physical manifestation was way across the Atlantic, and it maintained a relatively narrow focus on Canadian crafts and heritage; Zak was — and still is — working full time for Urquiola, "which is pretty demanding," he says. "You reach a stage where you want to start doing projects of your own. Oeuffice is a research-minded collaboration where Nicolas and I can play with new techniques and materials in ways we might not have the opportunity to otherwise."
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Paul Loebach

Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. When we asked Brooklynite Paul Loebach which of the four products he'll bring to the show had the most intriguing backstory, he immediately nominated his Watson table, a sandwich of carbon fiber and wood with double-helix legs that took him two and a half years to develop. Like the rest of Loebach's oeuvre, the table reinterprets historical craftsmanship techniques using cutting-edge technologies, evoking yet another novel property from a material as old and as simple as wood. "I named the table after the guy who discovered DNA," Loebach says. "I felt like a scientist doing this project, so I named it after one."
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Carwan Gallery Launch: Lindsey Adelman

Through April 15, Sight Unseen will be showcasing the work of half a dozen designers and design firms exhibiting together at the Milan Furniture Fair under the umbrella of the soon-to-launch Carwan Gallery in Beirut. Today’s subject is Lindsey Adelman, who works out of a tiny studio in the back of Manhattan design store The Future Perfect but creates her sprawling, modular chandelier series at Urban Glass, a Brooklyn atelier that’s created work for the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Eva Zeisel, and Robert Rauschenberg. “Building visual tension is a theme that’s always interested me,” says Adelman. And in her latest work Catch, which features slumping glass orbs blown through oversized brass links, it’s the tension between “the fluid fragility of the glass and the strict, flat, weighty links. Mashing together the feminine and the masculine — something interesting usually happens,” she says.
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The first part of the magazine introduced the tourists and residents populating Vörland, as well as the strange devices and rituals they had come up with to deal with the searing heat. This young girl wears a special full-body swimsuit, hand-stitched by Fabrica's fashion team, designed to block out the sun.

Welcome to Vörland, by Reed Young

Reed Young’s photography career has taken him from a sumo wrestler’s home in Tokyo to the sugarcane fields of the Dominican Republic to the halls of Fabrica, the Benetton-owned creative lab for young talent in Treviso, Italy. But he probably wouldn’t have gotten to any of those places if he hadn’t faked his way into art school. At 17 and a middling student at a Minneapolis senior high, Young, now 27, borrowed a photography portfolio from a friend and was accepted into his hometown’s prestigious Perpich Center for Arts Education on its merits. “When I arrived, I think they found it a bit strange that I didn’t know the difference between an aperture and a shutter speed,” he says.
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