04 OOIEE THERES NO SEPARATION AAM

A Design Legend in the Making Breaks Out On His Own

When we first heard rumblings that RO/LU — the epically talented, intellectually formidable Minneapolis-based studio that we've been covering and collaborating with since its move into furniture design five years ago — was ending, we were sad but also a little excited. After all, what would its multi-disciplinary founders get up to next? This week, we got our first glimpse into RO/LU co-founder and creative director Matt Olson's new studio, called OOIEE.
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The New Frontier at Bellevue Arts Museum

When we were first introduced to the multi-talented photographer Charlie Schuck, a good three years ago, he was running the heart-stoppingly chic concept store Object in Seattle, at which he paired things like Masanori Oji trivets with pieces he commissioned from local studios like Iacoli & McAllister and Grain. It was the first, most beautifully executed sign that a larger narrative was galvanizing around Pacific Northwest designers — one that reaches its apex this month with a museum show Schuck has curated for the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Washington.
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Another stylishly appointed cultural institution we visited was the artist-run gallery Kunsternes Hus, which had a show on of drawings by the late great textile designer Synnøve Anker Aurdal, whose work you should Google immediately if you don't already know it.

In Norway

If anyone needed proof this year that Scandinavia had quietly usurped London's status as the world's hottest contemporary design scene, it could be found at the Salone del Mobile in April, where the presentation that Danish brand Hay put on, complete with a pop-up shop and an utter madhouse of a cocktail party, was pretty much the talk of the town. It's entirely thanks to the rise, in the past few years, of not just Hay but brands like Menu, Ferm Living, One Nordic, Muuto, Gubi, and Design House Stockholm, all of whom are working with emerging talents across the region. As we've watched the Nordic scene grow, we've managed to pay visits to Sweden (three times), Denmark (twice), and Finland (once, in the dead of winter, natch) — even to Iceland, for its DesignMarch festival three years ago. That left Norway as our personal holy grail, made doubly intimidating because of its famed reputation for being outrageously expensive. Two weeks ago, as you may have noticed on Instagram, we finally took the plunge.
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No Name Design at the Triennale Design Museum

The collecting of anonymous objects — and the subsequent use of those objects in creating a perfectly styled interior — has become such a staple of modern life that it’s hard to remember a time when not everyone loaded up their vans twice a year at places like Brimfield. But Franco Clivio, a former industrial designer and a lecturer at Zurich’s Schule für Gestaltung, has been amassing such objects for more than four decades. His collection — which numbers into the thousands — is on view starting next week at Milan’s Triennale Design Museum in an exhibition called “No Name Design.”
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Week of January 20, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: an art installation inspired by Facebook, a refined furniture collection by a Danish design student (above), and a mirror you could get lost in.
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The Grantchester Pottery

What happens when two conceptual artists meet on a retreat in the English countryside and get to grips with ceramics in an abandoned studio? In the case of The Grantchester Pottery, they form a decorative arts collective that feels more like a piece of conceptual art — which is a bit misleading, considering The Grantchester Pottery sounds a lot like a heritage brand, and these guys don’t just throw pots. In fact, they don’t throw at all. “It’s not that we have not tried!” says co-founder Giles Round.
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Judith Dolkart, Chief Curator of the Barnes Foundation

In 2002, when the Barnes Foundation announced a plan to move from its original location in Merion, Pennsylvania, to nicer, big-time architect–designed digs in Philadelphia, there was a bit of an uproar. How, devotees of the collection wondered, could anything ever replicate the obsessiveness with which Alfred C. Barnes — the quirky early 20th-century art enthusiast who amassed the collection — originally arranged things? When the new building, designed by Tsien & Williams, opened last year, those people breathed a sigh of relief at its apparent fidelity (every room is the same dimension as its counterpart in Merion, and everything was reinstalled to one-sixteenth of an inch.) But here’s something even more freeing: visiting the Barnes as we did, knowing next to nothing about the whole endeavor and therefore being able to judge the collection on its own merits. The verdict? We both fell kind of in love with the place.
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A rack full of Dries van Noten clothing waiting to be registered into MoMu’s digital cataloging system, which keeps track of the nearly 5,000 contemporary and 20,000 historical pieces in the museum’s collection. MoMu was originally based on the contents of a former textile museum in Vrieselhof, Belgium; when Antwerp inherited those items, it decided to parlay them into a fashion museum in 2001. “We retained everything from the old textile museum,” says Wim Mertens, a curator at the museum who specializes in historical dress. “We have floral tapestries which have nothing to do with a fashion museum, but it's an inheritance, and also napkins, tablecloths, bedspreads — you name it in textiles, and we have it.”

Antwerp’s Mode Museum

If Antwerp’s Mode Museum (MoMu) is desperately seeking a second storage space for its growing permanent collection, at least part of the blame falls on Bernard Willhelm. He may donate his designs each season alongside the likes of Dries van Noten, Martin Margiela, and his onetime mentor Walter van Beirendonck, but inside the museum’s existing archive rooms — which Sight Unseen had the exclusive privilege of touring earlier this year — it’s Willhelm who clearly holds the record for overflowing racks. In fact, MoMu’s curation team rarely turns down a donation from a legitimate source, whether for the historical collection it originally inherited from an old provincial textile museum or for its cache of contemporary fashions by talents born or educated in Antwerp, but Willhelm’s contributions are so generous that the day we visited, there were clothes waiting to be graciously returned to his showroom. It’s not difficult to understand the designer’s enthusiasm, though, or that of his peers: The MoMu’s prestige in Europe far exceeds its diminutive size, and since it opened a decade ago, it’s become the largest repository in the world for contemporary Belgian fashion.
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