This year’s Sight Unseen fair may have gone online-only, but there was still plenty for the tastemakers to talk about
Words by MELISSA GOLDSTEIN
A wildly influential online platform for independent design, Sight Unseen is the brainchild of former I.D. magazine editors Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov, whose annual New York design fair Sight Unseen Offsite is a must on every tastemaker’s calendar. Both a springboard for the industry’s rising stars and a showcase for its hottest talents, the event never fails to include a multitude of California brands (see: Another Human, Kalon Studios, Estudio Persona, Laun and Christopher Norman among them).
This year, as with every other fair in the world, its organizers found themselves faced with a choice: cancel or postpone. Instead, they decided to take the fair online in an effort to support designers, many of whom were in the throes of launching collections when retail and design fairs across the globe came to a screeching halt. “Most designers are really just hoping to find some community right now, and of course make enough sales for their businesses to survive this crisis,” Khemsurov says.
There is, of course, an upside to taking things virtual: “Our online fair is accessible to anyone, and will stay up indefinitely,” Khemsurov adds. “It’s really gratifying for us to be able to share that with people all over the world.”
Featuring new work by nearly 100 designers, brands and students (Khemsurov taps Studio POA, Trevor Carreon and Daniel Nikolovski, all making their Offsite debut, as ones to watch), the fair will also be complemented by audio guides, weeks of in-depth story coverage, social media coverage and Instagram Live programming.
We toured the offerings — and frankly, loved them all — but have flagged below a few of the pieces that we think point to 2020’s emerging trends.
Make it Big
The latest from Los Angeles ceramicist Bari Ziperstein of BZippy is a case in point for super scaling, with her signature architectural vessels demanding greater real estate and, with it, the spotlight.
From Every Angle
Berlin-based product and interior designer Nazara Lázaro is one of several designers rewriting the geometric playbook, in this case with her Crooked Collection, a subversive furniture grouping that bypasses the traditional right angles for all things left-of-center.
Furniture’s hottest new material? Paper pulp. Recent RISD graduate Mike Serra of Serra Studio masterfully combines the recycled material with plaster for a fiberglass effect.
All the Feels
The Arc Chair from L.A.-based Kristi Bender and Wendy Schwartz of Cuff Studio picks up on the design world’s continued embrace of the arc and adds another trending element: upholstery that’s soft to the touch and satisfyingly textural.
Yes, everyone is obsessed with all things outdoorsy right now and designers are no different. Cue Winston Cuevas’ Palm Row Light Object, whose stunning tree-like silhouette includes “fronds” made from green patina-ed brass.
Same But Different
In fashion and design, playing matchy-matchy has been having one long moment. The newest riff on the motif pairs patterns with slight but discernible differences, engaging the eye in conversation together, as evidenced by Hannah Bigeleisen’s Archi series of lamps.
Organic shapes paired with hyper-faux finishes are proving especially irresistible these days, and so it goes for designer Giovanni Valdeavellano of Studio POA and his shapeshifting Croissance series.
Feature image: Bow lamp by ESTUDIO PERSONA. Photo by Pia Riverola.
May 21, 2020
Discover more DESIGN news.