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Workaday Handmade

Like many creatives we’ve interviewed before, Forrest Lewinger began his Workaday Handmade ceramics label while in the employ of someone else. Having studied ceramics in college and promptly dropped it to focus on more video-based, site-specific work, the Virginia-born designer found himself a year or so ago back behind the potter’s wheel, working as a studio assistant to a ceramicist in New York City. “A lot of times, artists think of their day job as an obstructive force,” laughs Lewinger. “I started to think of it as something more generative.”
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Totokaelo Art—Objects’s Spring Campaigns

The cult Seattle boutique Totokaelo already carries clothing and objects so beautiful that each new season wreaks havoc on the wallets of aesthetes around the country. The only way the store could possibly improve on that game? By shooting those new collections in scenarios designed to make said aesthetes even crazier. To promote its spring Art—Object catalog, the store's creative director Ashley Helvey masterminded two such campaigns: a photo shoot shot by Robin Stein and styled by Margaret Macmillan Jones in the technicolor plaza of Seattle's King County Correctional Center (designed in the '80s by Martha Schwartz and Benson Shaw), and a video, also in collaboration with Stein, that features Cameron Mesirow of Glasser along with music from her latest album, Interiors.
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Fredericks & Mae’s 2012 collection video

If Luis Buñuel had somehow detoured into a life making promotional lookbooks, they might have ended up something like the stop-motion video filmmaking duo Grave of Seagulls recently put together for our friends at Fredericks & Mae. The video was conceived to celebrate Fredericks & Mae’s 2012 collection, which is based loosely on the Mayan idea that 2012 marks the end of the world, and includes things like worry beads, backgammon and dominoes sets (with which to bide your time waiting for the apocalypse?), and a special edition of their signature arrows, featuring black feathers on dyed-black dowels. Says Lauryn Siegel of Grave of Seagulls: “I randomly saw their work over a year ago and immediately knew it would be great on film. It's an amazing video no matter how it's seen — as a commercial, as a documentation of work and process, as a stop-motion, or as a piece of design.” We recently spoke to the filmmakers and to Fredericks & Mae to get the scoop on the film, which debuts today on Sight Unseen.
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Max Lipsey’s Acciaio Series

It was hard not to feel a burst of pride when, after introducing Matter's Jamie Gray to Max Lipsey in advance of his appearance in our 2011 Noho Next showcase, we heard the pair had a major collab in the works. Unveiled at the Qubique fair in Berlin in October, Lipsey's Acciaio: Stage 2 collection for MatterMade picks up where the Eindhoven-based designer's first bicycle-inspired series left off, ratcheting up the proportions of the welded-steel objects and forming them into more complicated, experimental shapes, like the turquoise table/cabinet hybrid pictured above. There is, however, one significant difference: While the new pieces are limited-edition only, Lipsey himself manufactures the originals, slaving away in his workshop to produce each and every order by hand. Earlier this week, he sent Sight Unseen a short video documenting how he does it — which you can watch here — and obliged to answer a few questions for us about how the process has since evolved.
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Myself: “I am constantly gathering inspiration from my personal universe and experiences,” says Abbade. Case in point: her website, where Abbade hosts a series of self-portraits done in Photoshop, needlepoint, pencil, and the like, as well as a styling library where she often appears half-naked in neon pink bikini bottoms along with one other key piece. “At one point, I decided to catalog everything I own,” she says. “As a stylist you get a lot for free, but also when you have a specific style, people are always giving you thimgs. I was going to shoot one piece at a time, but I started with the stuff on my floor and never made to the drawers or the closet!”

Renata Abbade, designer and stylist

A lot of designers call themselves multidisciplinary, but they’ve got nothing on Renata Abbade. A former stylist for magazines like Purple and fashion brands like VPL, the São Paulo–born, Los Angeles–based designer has spent the better part of the last decade involved in a wonderfully weird array of activities: creating a cult jewelry line in ceramics, dancing on stage at Lollapalooza with the Brazilian band CSS, starring in a series of self-produced dance and workout videos (including one for CSS, in which she wore masks depicting each of the band members’ faces), designing terrariums, landscapes, rugs, tapestries, and fabrics, DJing down in Brazil, and performing with a semi-fictitious band called High Waisted. She refers to herself both as a freestylist and a fashion artist, but in truth, what she’s often creating amounts to something more like performance art, where she is the subject, channeling personal interests and experiences into new and different media. “To me, it feels like I’m only doing one thing, even if I’m involved in a lot of different things,” says Abbade. “Like with the terrariums, it’s basically styling with plants instead of clothes, and land instead of people.”
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Raw Edges in the V&A’s “Couples Counseling” Video Series

When it comes to the issues explored in the Victoria & Albert museum’s video series “Couples Counseling," which probes the relationships behind five London design duos, Raw Edges’s Yael Maer sums things up handily: “Working and living together — it’s a very problematic issue,” she says with a loaded smile. Adds partner Shay Alkalay: “We have to find a way to separate personal life and professional life,” before making it clear over the course of the subsequent seven-minute interview that the couple have managed to do no such thing. But although all five of the partnerships profiled — including FredriksonStallard and Pinch Design — admit that mixing love and professional collaboration brings its fair share of challenges, in the end the viewer understands that what gives their work its strength is the depth of character that results when a person’s greatest admirer is also his or her toughest critic.
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