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Ladies & Gentlemen Studio’s Form Studies

When we first interviewed Jean Lee and Dylan Davis of Seattle's Ladies & Gentlemen Studio back in 2012, they revealed that a sizable chunk of their design process happens on and around the shelves that line every room in their home studio and serve as a kind of 3-D inspiration board.
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John Hogan, Glass Artist

It goes without saying that not every artist who grows up in Toledo, Ohio, famed birthplace of the American studio glass movement, ends up dedicating their life's work to that medium. But for John Hogan, that's exactly what happened — he started experimenting with glass at a young age and, even after relocating to Seattle a few years back, hasn't stopped since.
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Filson, Seattle

These days, plenty of companies in the United States are touting their status as heritage brands, as is the current fashion, but markedly few who can claim the kind of pride of place that Filson can: Since the outdoor apparel label was founded in Seattle back in 1897, it’s never moved more than two miles away from where it began, in what’s now known as the city’s SoDo neighborhood — nor has it stopped manufacturing most of its wares there, either. Having long occupied a complex in the up-and-coming industrial area that included its factory, headquarters, and flagship store, last year the expansion of its business led it to annex a nearly 60,000 square-foot building just two blocks away from the original. “We’ve been in SoDo for 117 years, so it feels like home,” says Filson CEO Alan Kirk, a Scotland native who moved to the city in 2009. “It’s one of the few areas left in the city that still has manufacturing — in a way it’s the garment district of old Seattle.”
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A table in Krantz’s studio laid out with works in progress and remnants of previous work. “I tend to make a lot more than what I’m going to need for a show because I don’t exactly know, in the moment, where things are going to go, so I end up editing out things that don’t really work. But I generally save them and sometimes they’re great in another context.”

Katy Krantz, Ceramicist

Katy Krantz likes to leave things to chance, at least when it comes to making ceramics. She has a method, but it involves working with a “wild and crazy collaborator” — a giant gas kiln that can fire clay at extremely high temperatures. “When you fire that high, the clay and glaze react in ways that are unpredictable. You get a lot of weird, random spotting, things that I would never be able to paint on.” That element of surprise and transformation runs through her colorful, abstract sculptural objects and jewelry, as well as her block prints and recent forays into fabric. Though she’ll establish “loose parameters” at the outset of a project, she says she’s “never been able to work with a real detailed plan in mind. I can work like that, but I tend to make really boring work that way. When I have too much control, it’s less interesting.”
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Helvey’s living room, with a wood-frame couch her boyfriend built around a child’s Ikea mattress and an apricot silk pillow by Electric Feathers from Totokaelo. Of the apartment, she says: “We instantly fell in love with the French windows and fireplace. What really sold us, though, was the location. It makes such a huge difference to be near a great supermarket and have the luxury of walking to work.”

Ashley Helvey’s Seattle Home is a Stylist’s Dream

At this point, simplicity can seem like a tired mantra or an admonishment, an extra layer of guilt heaped over our misdirections. Isn’t it enough that our cluttered thoughts keep us up at night? Do we have to feel bad about it, too? So it’s especially heartening that for Seattle-based stylist Ashley Helvey, simplicity is something else entirely: a look so easy that it serves as encouragement. “A lot of the imagery I’m inspired by online is just a piece of fabric or a cinderblock,” says Helvey, who is editorial creative director for Totokaelo, overseeing everything from photo shoots to social media. “They are really simple things that you could actually execute. Having a simple aesthetic is actually pretty tangible.”
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Ashley Helvey’s #IRL Exhibition

Today on the site, we're giving you a peek inside Seattle creative Ashley Helvey's home and studio, but we also wanted to show you the results of the work that was being created there during our visit. Last week, at Seattle's Love City Love art space, Helvey debuted an exhibition with possibly the best name — and best concept — we've heard to date: "#IRL (internet shorthand for 'In Real Life ') is Helvey's exploration and reflection on being an artist in the age of Tumblr, Instagram and the reblog," the show text reads. "With the vast array of technological opportunities we have to broadcast our identity and redistribute images of art and design, at what point do we create our own content? #IRL presents work created by Helvey, that references images and works from the internet, many of which have been re-posted on her blog, HunterGathererer. These works, brought together under Helvey's distinct aesthetic and material sensibility, reject the lament that there is really nothing new. Instead, this exhibition celebrates the impact of technology and social media and its wealth of imagery as direct inspiration for creating real and tangible art objects.'"
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First thing you ever made? Chelsea: “For as long as I can remember I have been making assemblages of objects. I can recall occupying a lot of time collecting rocks, flowers, and shells to make little organized groupings. I did the same with my room and toys. There has always been something self-satisfying in that process for me.” James: “My dad (mostly) and I made a plywood castle to use with my Lego people. It was pretty great.”

Grain, furniture and product designers

To hear the story of James and Chelsea Minola — the married couple behind Seattle’s Grain design studio — you begin to wonder how it’s possible their paths didn’t cross even earlier in life. Both grew up in Southern California — James in San Diego, and Chelsea in Los Angeles, where her parents were the owners of a punk rock store at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. In the early ’90s, both families relocated to the Pacific Northwest, and James and Chelsea moved east to Providence, Rhode Island, around the same time to attend RISD — James as an undergrad in engineering and Chelsea as a graduate in industrial design. But the two didn’t meet until they both enrolled in a short course called “Bridging Cultures Through Design,” where they worked first in Providence, tinkering with ideas about weaving, and then for a few weeks in Guatemala, where they learned how to work with talented local artisans. The trip would eventually lead the two friends down the path to marriage but it also introduced them to the way in which their future studio would run.
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Sol Hashemi, Artist

Growing up in Vancouver, Sol Hashemi was wedded to his father's camera, dreaming since age six of someday becoming a nature photographer. Now 27 and living in Seattle, however, he may be the farthest thing from it — while he does wield a camera for a living, and occasionally points it at the odd plant or rock, his sculptures and still-life compositions go to great lengths to make them appear as un-natural as possible, marrying them with things like glitter, candy wrappers, and cans of baked beans. His work is all about weird — or not so weird, if you're a Tumblr devotee — juxtapositions.
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Nicholas Nyland, artist

Nicholas Nyland studied to be a painter for years, first as an undergrad at the University of Washington and then as a graduate at the University of Pennsylvania. But it only took one night for him to figure out that his heart belonged to ceramics. “I discovered ceramics through a friend who invited people over just to play around and make things,” says the Seattle-based artist. “It was like a light bulb went off over my head. It was the best combination of my interests in painting and color and surface, with the immediacy of sculptural practice and the ability to then glaze.”
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Seattle Still Lifes, By Photographer Charlie Schuck

Every creative scene has an unseen hand, the type of person who seems to know everyone, touch everything, and generally act as the glue holding it all together, all while falling just below the radar of the average outside observer. In the Seattle design world, Charlie Schuck fits that profile to a tee. A photographer and the proprietor of the former brick and mortar storefront Object — which he filled with commissions by designers from around the Pacific Northwest — he not only produces stunning product shots for locals like Totokaelo, Iacoli & McAllister, Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, and Filson, he also curates exhibitions, like the recent pop-up Future This Now and an upcoming museum survey of regional talents. He's so committed to his role, in fact, that when we approached him about doing a story on his own work, he came back with the idea to do a photo essay on everyone else's: "A still life series of personal items that speak to the influences of Seattle creatives," he says. "Objects from those who produce objects."
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Amanda Ringstad, Photographer

Amanda Ringstad is a Seattle-based still-life and product photographer, and though there's remarkably little written about her on the internet, the information that's there makes perfect sense the instant you look at her work. She has a BFA in photography and studied sculpture and art theory in graduate school; in practice, this translates to the most arresting images you've ever seen of staples, garlic shoots, and those weird foam thingys you put between your toes during a pedicure.
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A view of Iacoli’s dresser, with the books she’s currently reading, a brass sage burner by Iacoli & McAllister, pieces of coral from Miami, and a collage by Serrah Russell, a local artist.

Iacoli & McAllister

Here at Sight Unseen, we tend to pride ourselves on the timeless nature of so many of our features. But if you look back at the first time we covered Jamie Iacoli and Brian McAllister, way back in 2010, the article is almost laughably out-of-date. For one, we called Seattle a city that’s “not exactly famous for its flourishing industrial design scene” — which is, of course, the premise behind this entire week. And as for Iacoli & McAllister? Back then, they were better known for powder-coated shop tools and cake pedestals than for the beautifully lightweight and sophisticated furniture that has become their signature (and they hadn’t even begun to make jewelry!). They were so very green back then — only having recently found vendors and retailers to make and sell their work — whereas now they’re like the éminence grise of the Seattle design scene, so entrenched in its visual identity that you can’t remember a time when they weren’t there. What hasn’t changed? When we interviewed them in 2010, the onetime couple had broken up but were still living together. Today, they’re still broken up and living together, though in the intervening years they spent three years living apart.
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