Encounter, dialogue, research and collaboration. These are the ingredients for the fifth edition of Sight Unseen Offsite, one of the main events during NYCxDesign, the design week in the Big Apple. This year, the fair curated by Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov has changed its approach and is moving away from the classic format towards the form of a large collective exhibition. Each project presented is the result of interaction between professionals from various fileds. Designers, artisans, entrepreneurs, artists and creative figures explore the fertile ground which lies at the meeting points between disciplines, where the most beautiful flowers, those of new species, grow. Sight Unseen Offsite includes a large exhibition and another 12 secondary venues spread throughout Manhattan, each of which presents a particular collection or installation.
The main section of the exhibition is entitled “Field Studies”. Food, fashion, cinema, art and music are the fields of the 13 authors who, for six months, each worked alongside a designer, in order to create and produce a functional product. Among the projects in the section, we have candle holders by the architect Drew Seskunas, who, through the use of a particular 3D printer, has transformed the sounds of the musician Angel Olsen into unique movements and forms. The interior design studio Wall for Apricots has set a 1970s pianola in a small console table. The item of furniture has been made to measure for the actor Jason Schwartzman. The wall lights by the designer Harry Nuriev and Liam Gillick bring together the characteristic forms of stainless steel by the first with sheets of coloured glass by the artist. Among the other exhibited collaborations, Norway x New York is a project which, for a three-year period, has encouraged interaction between USA and Norwegian designers. Conceived as an educational instrument for American designers in order to learn production processes and European business strategies, this year the exchange is aimed principally at constructing a sincere spirit of collaboration. Seven pairs of designers present the result of months of shared work carried out remotely.
The students from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, led by Peter Oyler and Jonah Takagi, presented a collection of ceramic cups. In reality, the aim of the course was to examine the entire production process, from the initial concept to the final exhibition. While the basis of the teaching is to transmit techniques related to ceramics, the students also had to think about how to present their work and collaborate with each other in order to create a unified conceptual framework. The Vonnegut/Kraft studio worked with the fashion designer Mary Ping and Weft, a start-up which produces personalised fabrics. The result of the dialogue between the three has resulted in a collection of furnishings which adapt their wooden structure to the forms and colours of the fabrics. An element which is usually secondary and decorative becomes the fulcrum for the work of designers and artisans. Completing the exhibition in the showroom at 201 Mulberry Street, Offsite Selects is a selection of new works by famous and less-known designers. The works exhibited are wide-ranging in form and without a specific theme. The choices made are the result of continuous research by the curators and represent the main current trends.