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Ian Stell Shot By Rob Howard

With a debut solo show at Matter in April and a major presentation last week at Sight Unseen OFFSITE, up-and-coming furniture designer Ian Stell has had the opportunity to introduce his kinetic, transformable furniture to quite a few people this spring. Yet most of them, apparently, have read it completely wrong. "I've gotten comments recently from people who ... assumed I have an engineering background or was trained as an architect, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth," he recently told photographer Rob Howard, on whose portfolio site we recently discovered dozens of shots of Stell at home in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and at his nearby studio.
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The year-old, Brooklyn-based studio Bower created a stunner of a booth, showing off their tinted Shape Mirrors — which debuted at this year's Arch Digest Home Design Show — as well as their beautiful new Moire and Contour tables, which they were finishing in the days up to the show.

A Tour of the 2014 Show: Part II

Though your Sight Unseen editors have been in major curation mode for the past two weeks, we've also had day to day work to do as, you know, journalists. So for five days during our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event last week, Monica and I set up camp on the Astroturf-covered bleachers of the MOLD Future Food Café, where we caught up on emails and posted stories to this very site. It was the perfect vantage point from which to view our own event: We could see friends and VIPs on their way in, and we could overhear people heading to the elevator, on their way up to the second floor. The most common refrain we heard? "Oh my God, there's more upstairs?"
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Kelly Behun Studio — founded by interior designer Behun with artist Alex P. White — added to its Neo Laminati line of graphic, op-art-inspired furniture.

A Tour of the 2014 Show: Part I

When we founded the Noho Design District back in 2009, it was meant to provide a much-needed, well-curated platform for independent designers, whose numbers — particularly in America — had begun to surge. But it was also meant to add an extra dose of dimension and excitement to New York Design Week (or NYCxDesign, as it has since come to be known), which at the time was considered preeeeeetty lackluster, to say the least. By that measure alone, the first edition of Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our successor to the Noho Design District, was a massive success; word on the street was that this NYDW was the best anyone could remember, and we're proud to have played a significant role.
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At New York Design Week 2014: Spanish Design at Sight Unseen OFFSITE

We've had a special place in our hearts for Spanish design for as long as we can remember. After all, the very first scouting trip we ever took for Sight Unseen, way back in the summer of 2009, was to sunny Barcelona. (Don't even get us started on Design in Spain, the last full issue Monica and I worked on at I.D. Magazine, and one of our personal favorites, period.) So when the Spanish trade commission in New York asked us earlier this spring if we'd be interested in curating a selection of our favorite recent Spanish designs for Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the answer was an unequivocal yes.
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Print All Over Me x Sight Unseen

Back in December, we embarked on an experimental curatorial collaboration with Print All Over Me, the amazing print-your-own-pattern service, founded by fashion designer Jesse Finkelstein and his sister, Meredith, that allows designers to upload any graphic they please onto fashionable white blanks — sweatshirts, bomber jackets, shift dresses, backpacks, leggings, and more. The project — for which we hand-selected illustrators like Will Bryant, Tim Colmant, and Clay Hickson — was such a rousing success that Jesse approached us for round two a few months ago. We were already 100 percent sold on the idea, thinking we could sell the results at a pop-up at our Sight Unseen OFFSITE event — which opens today at noon! — when Jesse casually emailed this bomb: "Hey! Let's also talk about print all over furniture!"
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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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In between detailed recommendations for various anti-psychotics, a favorite professor once told me about a legendary ceramic bowl that had been made in a single motion. Basically, someone held a lump of clay in one hand and then punched it. That’s it. I’ve thought about that bowl a lot in the intervening years — the effort and refusal. I find myself being drawn repeatedly to echoes of that idea, including this work by Los Angeles-based potter Andrew Kazakes, who makes the same deceptively simple forms over and over again. They’re inspired by “waves crashing against the shore,” using glazes that respond to the vagaries of heat.

The I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop

Ceramicists know how to deal with heartbreak — these are artists, after all, who make something they love and then willingly throw it into a fire. So while the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop that I've curated for Sight Unseen OFFSITE — opening at noon this Friday at 200 Lafayette in Soho — is in many ways a survey of talented young people working today in clay, it’s also a small tribute to the beauty in unpredictability and letting go. Unlike painting or weaving or most other mediums, potters don’t get to see the thing complete in front of them as they work. They shape a piece of clay with their hands and then give it over to the heat of the universe. And though this sounds totally cheeseball, that might be why I love it so much — that every piece carries in it some accident. The range of work in the I’m Revolting Ceramics Shop is a reminder of this possibility in imperfection: our perpetual struggle to take the same stuff there has ever been – mud and fire, failure and ambition – and create of it something distinctly personal.
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OBJECTS, Curated by Joel Evey

OBJECTS began, as so many great things do, with Philadelphia-based graphic designer Joel Evey playing around with tool dip: A series of plastic-splattered lamps he made from grappling hooks gave way to an ambiguous dipped "kitchen tool" and, eventually, the curiosity as to how other genre-bending artists and designers he knew and admired were approaching issues of functionality. Last year, he reached out to half a dozen of those peers — ROLU, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, Eric Timothy Carlson, Brendan Timmins, and Alex da Corte — and invited each of them to present him with a piece that redefined or recontextualized the idea of a utilitarian object for the home. "It was loose and broad, but intentionally so," he says. "The point was to ask people who already existed within this playing field to do something that danced around the idea. The results are all very different."
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Field Experiments

From June to September 2013, Benjamin Harrison Bryant (New York), Paul Marcus Fuog (Melbourne) and Karim Charlebois-Zariffa (Montreal) set up a studio in Lodtunduh, a farming community on the outskirts of Ubud in Bali, where they generated a trove of conceptual works through daily experimentation. They collaborated with local stonemasons, woodcarvers, batik-makers, kite designers, and painters, all while "absorbing the sights and sounds of everyday Balinese life and documenting commonplace objects, agricultural implements, traditional dress, and makeshift items from the local culture," they write on the project's website. The result is a collection of more than 100 handmade objects meant to "challenge the traditional notion of the souvenir." At Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the collective will present these Field Experiments for the first time, including sketches, photographs, and personal stories from the makers.
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Preview the 2014 Show!

Back in March, we gave you a small taste of what was to come at Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our brand new nomadic design fair opening May 16 at 200 Lafayette Street in New York's Soho neighborhood. But a lot has happened since then! Most notably, we've brought some exciting partners on board and finalized our official lineup, which is now packed with more than 50 independent designers and forward-thinking brands, all of whom have been hand-picked by the editors at Sight Unseen. Open to the public May 16 to 20 — during the hours of 12PM to 7PM Friday and 11AM to 7PM Saturday through Tuesday — Sight Unseen OFFSITE is New York design week's most exciting platform for new ideas and talents. Check out a small preview after the jump of some of the works that will be on view during the show, then join us next weekend to see it in person!
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