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Wonderplants Prints by Sarah Illenberger

Berlin illustrator and photographer Sarah Illenberger turned her recent six-week trip to Porto, Portugal, into an extended personal art project, collecting leaves from local botanical gardens and then decorating and photographing them for her new Wonderplants series.
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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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Flora Indoor

Every few seasons, it seems the internet cycles through a trending plant: flowering cacti, Fiddle Leaf Figs, Pilea Peperomiodies, Monsteras, succulent gardens, bouquets of dried eucalyptus (that you hang in the shower, natch), olive branches, an air plant in a terrarium. But here's a wild proposal: Are we actually in the era of the 2-D houseplant? 2014 had a number of contenders, from the art-driven Strange Plants to Polly Brown's study on office plants, to some sort of black and white Japanese ikebana reference on basically everyone's Instagram feed (guilty as charged). A new contender for this category is Barcelona-based Flora Indoor, a line of minimal (but cheerfully colorful) prints of thriving houseplants.
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Huy Bui on Freunde Von Freunden

Though we have a particular fondness for so many of the designers we've featured or worked with in the five years since Sight Unseen began, Huy Bui might be the only one who can lay claim to being both one of our favorite designers and the co-founder of one of our favorite New York restaurants. As the founder of Plant-In City — or what he calls architectural terrariums for "the 21st century" — Bui was one of the inaugural exhibitors at our Sight Unseen OFFSITE showcase last year. And as the designer and co-founder of the Lower East Side Vietnamese eatery An Choi, Bui's provided the backdrop for many a late-night design date. So when Freunde von Freunden reached out with the opportunity to co-publish a story on Bui's Brooklyn apartment and studio — complete with cameos by the designer's sweet dog Loopy, one of the more popular attractions at OFFSITE last year — we jumped at the chance.
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Our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

If you're anything like us, the idea of receiving a big, overpriced bouquet on Valentine's Day seems not only a little bit schmaltzy, but also a little bit of a waste, with all the amazing design objects out there your significant other could be spending his or her money on. Isn't it more romantic or them to be so thoughtful as to gift you something you might really, actually want? With that in mind — and with a little nudge from our friends at Aether, whose strikingly minimalist Cone speaker we had on our own wish lists long before they reached out to us — we present the first ever Sight Unseen Valentine's Day gift guide, featuring 11 items guaranteed to melt the heart of any design-lover in your life.
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Maryanne Moodie, Brooklyn Textile Artist

There are few people who get the opportunity to uproot, relocate, and be instantaneously welcomed by a community of powerful and creative women. But Maryanne Moodie — the Melbourne, Australia native who settled in Brooklyn last year after her husband got a job a Etsy — did just that. Since arriving, she says, “I’ve been able to meet and forge fast friendships with so many amazing textile ladies — inspirational women who are creative as well as business focused. I’ve had the chance to collaborate professionally with them — as well as down a few glasses of wine over plans for world domination.”
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Strange Plants by Zio Baritaux

We've all been thinking it, but the Los Angeles writer and publisher Zio Baritaux finally did it — put together a project capturing the prevalence of plants in contemporary art these days. Her new book Strange Plants contains interviews with ten artists of varying mediums who focus on flora in their work — three of which we've excerpted below — plus selections from the portfolios of 15 more, including an interlude featuring tattoo artists. Baritaux says she was inspired to create the book not necessarily by the trend she was witnessing in the art world, but by the elaborate gardens full of koi ponds and topiaries that her mother grew when she was a child. "I didn’t really appreciate these gardens until I was an adult, living in an apartment in L.A. with no outdoor space or plants to call my own," Baritaux says. "There were plants throughout the neighborhood, like night-blooming jasmine and overgrown bougainvillea, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to experience them. So I brought plants inside my apartment — a hanging terrarium, a potted cactus, and so on. These plants brought back memories and inspired me, just like the art I had hanging on the walls. So it seemed natural to create a book that combined the two."
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Chiao and Frezza — both longtime houseplant junkies — especially love how the act of making the faux plants is a kind of metaphor for growing real ones. “You start with the base, a root system for it to stand,” says Chiao. “Then you have to build a skeleton or armature for things to go on. You have meat that fills it in. You have a surface coat.” Adds Frezza: “You start to feel like a gardener. So sculpture as gardener I guess is one of the big attractions to continuing that process.”

Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza, Art and Design Duo

Partners in both life and work, Terri Chiao and Adam Frezza share a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where they run an art practice together as well as a design company called Chiaozza. Yet the first two things they ever collaborated on belonged to neither of those disciplines: One was a stew they made for dinner soon after they began dating — which took so long to cook that joking about it inspired their eventual website name, eternitystew.com — and the other was the pancakes they made the next morning. “We were fascinated by their topography, so we took some printmaking ink, inked up a pancake, and started making monoprints with them,” Frezza recalls. “That was when it began, this idea of turning our everyday life and domestic play into some kind of product or work.” Two and a half years later, it’s still the motivation underlying many of their colorful projects, which they characterize as existing at the "intersection of imagination and the natural world."
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Week of April 21, 2014

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week: a perfect marriage of plant and pot, a permanent home for a previously nomadic gallery, and a ceramic series inspired by the Fantastic Four.
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Joliet and her Abyssinian cat, Hazel. “She has many fans. My mom started a Facebook page for her. I try not to pay attention because it’s mildly embarrassing. But she does have a hashtag: #Hazelcat.” Out the bedroom window, Joliet has a view of palm trees that line the edge of Elysian Park. “Dodger Stadium is just over the hill, so on Fridays during the season, when they have a home game, they do fireworks that you can see from my window. That’s kind of the magic of why I decided to live here.”

Laure Joliet, photographer

You could say that photographer Laure Joliet is in the image business, but her work is about depth as much as surface. She has a way with spaces, rendering them intimate and mysterious at the same time, capturing the revealing detail you notice out of the corner of your eye. Though her subject is often interiors, a large part of her job involves getting to know people. “I spend the day with them and find out things I don’t know that you would normally get to find out, what they’re passionate about. It feels really satisfying to have that experience.”
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The table where Norton keeps an evolving collection of materials — a piece of coral, a rock found at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house, wax hexagons from a previous installation — that serve as “inspiration or visual references” or might get used in future projects.

Heidi Norton, Artist

“Being a photographer and being an artist working with materials like resin, plants, and glass — those two worlds should not really mix,” says Heidi Norton. “You have the camera and you have film and you’re trying to keep things clean and archival, and then you have dirt and glass shards everywhere.” Such contradictions are at the core of Norton’s work, from the immaculate glow of her photography to the dirt-under-your-fingernails feel of her sculptural pieces, which typically feature houseplants in some form or another.
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Melissa Bartley, Field Visual Manager of Terrain at Styers

When we first began hearing rumblings a few years back about Terrain, the garden center/home store/plant nirvana/farm-to-table café/dreamy wedding venue located 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia, we had no idea that the place was founded and operated by Urban Outfitters. Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, to do a profile one day on the sweet couple who must own the place? But don’t laugh at our cluelessness just yet. Though its flagship campus is huge — nearly a dozen buildings spread out over five acres — Terrain has the intimate vibe and the quirkily curated stock of a much smaller operation. Credit for projecting that cozy vibe, despite being part of one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the country, goes in large part to Terrain’s visual team — the buyers, merchandisers, and creatives who stock the place with mason jars, ticking stripe aprons, vintage planters, sea salt soaps, bocce ball sets, and terrariums.
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