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The Past Is Never Dead, by Philipp Schenk-Mischke and Matthias Klas

The Past Is Never Dead is the thesis project of Philipp Schenk-Mischke and Matthias Klas — soon to be graduates of the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Germany — and as such it has the required amount of critical thinking to back it up: "Taking an object and shifting the focus from form and use to the thoughts it provokes was the starting point of this project," the designers write. The shape of their Cabinets (above), they add, "comes from the metaphor of breaking conventions: parallel ash frames stand for the stuck structures of today's world while skewed lines ... try to break free from common notions to discover the new." That's all well and good, but we think all you need to understand this work is two eyeballs. We're looking forward to using them to see what the pair does next.
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“My first year in school, I realized that I had more fun experimenting between mediums, and trying to subvert each one,” says the 21-year-old. “I already had an interest in graphic design in high school, and then I started making 3-D work with the facilities at MCAD, which combined with photography, has led to my current work.”

Mel Nguyen, Artist

As an artistically inclined teenager feeling bored and marooned in the suburbs of Minnesota, Mel Nguyen did what any millenial in her situation would do: She turned to the internet for creative stimulation. “Even as a high schooler I was looking at all these graphic design blogs, seeing how the field was changing, and thinking, wow,” she says. As soon as she enrolled as an art student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she started her own tumblr, showing off her experiments sliding from 2-D into to 3-D and back again. She managed to build such a following on the site that her work went viral in certain online art and design circles — so much so that it’s hard to believe she’s only 21, and won’t graduate until this spring.
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JosephineChoquet

Josephine Choquet, Designer

As longtime talent scouts in the field of design, we can say this with absolute confidence: There are only a handful of schools out there whose students consistently produce well-resolved, magazine-ready work. ECAL, of course, is one of them, and you'll see several of its recent grads on Sight Unseen in the coming months, starting with today's interview with Joséphine Choquet. We featured one of the French talent's projects just before the holidays — a line of acetate sunglasses made in collaboration with another ECAL up-and-comer, Virgile Thévoz — but wanted to come back and finish the job with a short profile cementing her status as one to watch. Like many young designers these days, Choquet is particularly interested in old craft techniques and simple materials, which she then marries with her love of line, pattern, and contemporary art. Check out some of her past and present work after the jump.
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Antonia Basler, Dollar Store: “Through photographing images and materials acquired from dollar stores, I am looking to explore the ways in which a visual index can be organized.”

The 2012 Parsons Thesis Site

As curatorial hunter-gatherers, we're always on the lookout for new and unseen talents, and there's no better place to spot them than at school thesis shows. But as workaholics who seldom have time to leave our home offices, much less attend these shows, they all too often remain off-limits to us. It's a rare yet celebrated occasion any time we're either sent a clear, comprehensive accounting of projects by graduating students, or become aware of a website that successfully catalogs them. Last week, we received an email from Parsons with just such a treat — the new multi-disciplinary Parsons thesis site, part of the two-year old Parsons Festival which flings open the doors of the school to the public each May for three weeks of exhibitions, workshops, and fashion shows. Grateful to have access to the event's couch-potato version, we sifted through all the projects on the site and found the six we liked best: humorously cloying photographs of weird dollar-store finds by Antonia Basler, a series of poured-concrete side tables made in fabric molds by Isaac Friedman-Heiman, dresses that pay homage to Muybridge and Noguchi by Kaoru Oshima, photos by Charlie Rubin that blur the line between the real and the artificial, and minimalist versus maximalist origami garments by Yingshi June Lin and Si Lu. Have a look at the slideshow here, which is annotated with selections from the students' thesis statements, then clear your calendar for next May so you'll have no excuse not to join us at next year's festival.
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The RCA’s Platform 14 Graduate Projects

There’s a funny ritual that goes on at the start of each year in the Design Products program at London’s Royal College of Art. The masters program is split into five separate units, or “platforms,” and the professors helming each — which at last count included Sebastian Wrong, Doshi Levien, and curator Daniel Charny — are charged with convincing new students to turn away from the others to join their course. Mostly they rely on written manifestos describing the aims and ideals of their particular curriculum, like enacting social change or loosening the boundaries of the discipline, but there are also more nuanced incentives, like we will hire Jasper Morrison’s photographer to take extremely clever shots of your final projects, a move recently employed by Platform 14 leaders André Klauser and Ben Wilson. Granted, when they called in camerasmith Nicola Tree to shoot the images you see here — which are a Sight Unseen exclusive — it was meant more to teach their six graduating students that documenting work is a key part of the design process, especially in a course aimed at fostering entrepreneurship.
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meltdown, blue rope

The Making of Tom Price’s Meltdown Chairs on Tales of the Hunt

Sighted on the new design-art documentary website Tales of the Hunt, a video chronicling the making of Tom Price's Meltdown Series, for which the London talent employs inventive heating methods to transform commonplace objects like PVC pipes, polypropylene rope, and even polyester clothing into dramatic chairs and tables. The site itself is the creation of the precocious young Belgian design-art dealer Victor Hunt, whose interests lie particularly in objects that are created by hand using highly experimental processes; his collection contains not only finished products but prototypes, failures, and abandoned one-offs that further highlight those processes. It was only natural that Hunt would launch a video series dedicated to showing his clients and the design-art world at large the stories behind the works he supports, and likewise that Sight Unseen would want to become a partner in the endeavor. From time to time we'll share with you new videos posted on the site, starting with Price's. Watch it after the jump, then head to Tales from the Hunt to view the other offerings so far, including a behind-the-scenes look at how Maarten de Ceulaer's Balloon Bowls are created.
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A promotional image for the video lookbook Amsterdam duo Freudenthal/Verhagen created around the five ArtEZ Fashion Masters students' collections, each of which is represented within one or another of its triangles.

ArtEZ’s 2011 Fashion Masters Graduates

Whether they go on to work at Viktor & Rolf and Louis Vuitton or scrape together the crazy amount of money it takes to launch a solo line, nearly all clothing-design talents make their first identifiable mark of genius on the fashion world during end-of-the-year graduation shows. Sure, after a year of monomaniacal focus — at least double what any designer ever gets in the real world — the concepts are usually completely overthunk and overwrought, as student work in every discipline tends to be. But without the constraints of the market or a demanding boss, in some ways there can be no purer expression of creative perspective than when designers send that first exaggeratedly proportioned dress or gender-bending jacket down the runway. With that in mind, Sight Unseen made it a point to be there when Generation 12 of the ArtEZ Fashion Masters program opened the doors to their final presentation last week, during the Arnhem Mode Biennale.
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The third outfit from the left in this piece, Patrick Ervell’s, features a jacket punched through with thousands of rusty staples, then paired with pants made from a trompe l’oeil photographic print of the stapled fabric.

At the 2011 Arnhem Mode Biennale

If you travel all the way from New York to Arnhem just to attend the fashion biennial in this relatively obscure Dutch city, half the size of Pittsburgh, you can expect people to notice. Your waiter will witness your accent — and the fact that you’re not drinking a huge glass of milk with lunch like everyone else — and ask if you came just for the show, and well, did you like it? Your jolly white-haired cab driver will crack a few embarrassing jokes about the Big Apple before waxing poetic about how lovely it is when the festival’s on. And despite Vogue calling the $2.5-million production the “Greatest Fashion Event You’ve Never Heard Of,” it will seem, when you’re there, like Arnhem's gravitational pull has shifted in some small but significant way.
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"The table, with its cushioned surface on which everything rests softly, is an image of future. It is supposed to create a feeling of lightness, meditation, curiosity, and have an expression of self-confidence. Squeezed in between past and future is now, symbolized in the lamp fixture that rests on the thin glass bulbs, either on the floor or against the wall. What is now is frail and vulnerable. The past must be accepted, although there is a measure of potential change in the future."

The Matter of Things, by Beckmans College of Design Students

Attend an event like the Stockholm Furniture Fair, which is packed with designs by fresh-faced students and recent graduates, and you're bound to see furniture so conceptual it borders on fine art (if not naiveté or cliché). That's because students at some of the best design schools around the world are taught not just how to make things, but also how to think creatively and develop narratives — Stockholm's Beckmans College of Design among them. Thirteen members of its current graduating class exhibited together at the city's furniture fair this week, and rather than developing a suite of beautifully variegated chairs like a neighboring booth from the Lund Institute of Technology, they did some serious and deliberate navel-gazing in an attempt to develop furniture capable of manipulating its own emotional connection with users. Called "The Matter of Things," the project asked each of its participants to choose an abstract problem to solve — like bonding, treasuring memories, or making physical contact — and embody it in a not-quite-as-abstract form. Not all of the results are particularly life-changing, but they do demonstrate the kind of thought processes that eventually lead to greatness.
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