Huzzah! The first Matter Observed post of the new year is to announce that I won Inhabitat’s Top Original Reporting for this story I wrote (and photographed) on the Eames Case Study House last month. And in case you missed it, I also wrote a Matter Observed post and made a short video about the modern design mecca earlier this year. A nice start to to 2013!
Here’s to more designing, more writing, more photographing, more blogging, and more discovering this New Year. I cannot wait to share all of this with you, right here on Matter Observed.
Chicago Home+Garden‘s third annual “Chairs for Charity” was held at Consentino‘s beautiful West Loop showroom on Wednesday night. The evening was a resounding success with proceeds benefiting Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). Matter & Order has been a huge fan of this event ever since being a part of the inaugural Chairs for Charity back in 2010. Some of Chicago’s leading designers and artists took inspiration from all sorts of places and transformed existing chairs, usually in disrepair, into showstopping, interior design centerpieces. Check out this year’s designs below:
Designer’s Statement: “Jillian O’Neill has a passion for designing furniture and Francine Turk was inspired to paint roses after stumbling upon an amazing rose garden while on a trip with O’Neill in Charlotte, NC.”
Designer’s Statement: “Vintage 1970s chair revamped into classic contemporary. I wanted to take the great bones of this chair, polish up the frame, and revamp the upholstery with textures that make it warm, touchable, yet clean in appearance to complement and interior. It is quiet and elegant with classic contemporary styling. I selected a gorgeous ash-colored leather, with mohair in a silvery gray on the seat and a frost tone on the back to contrast with the bright polished chrome frame.”
Designer’s Statement: “Gathered Together was inspired by the resurgence of the industrial found objects movement that’s recently gained a lot of momentum. The initial exhilaration of finding a one-of-a-kind item on a treasure hunt is short-lived when we later discover that the piece has simply gathered dust in a drawer or otherwise dimly lit chamber. When gathered together, these items create a magnificent way to revisit the past – while managing the point towards the future.”
Designer’s Statement: “This chair was particularly beat up when I found it. It had been reupholstered countless times in the past century, then left under a porch for the last 20 years. After removing the nearly 100 rusty tacks, it took a little care to re-glue the mortise and tenon joinery, and a lot of elbow grease to clean up the mahogany frame. The only part I rebuilt was the chair seat, from reclaimed mahogany flooring. I often use belts to reupholster furniture, and feel the bring so much color and texture to the piece. I especially love that you can still see all of the ear and tack holes from previous upholstery. Perhaps in a few decades someone else will come along and ind another creative way to modify this chair.”
Designer’s Statement: “The classic library chair and especially the armchair are well designed and comfortable. I wanted to create a more angular, modern juxtaposition to the curves of the original and add of bit of whimsy with the brushed aluminum and oriental feel.”
Designer’s Statement: “In thinking about what a chair is, its meaning and usage, I thought about chairs that have reference to place and events. This chair was originally in a monastery library. Made of thick walnut with very utilitarian design, it just feels solid; it spoke to me about integrity. When I made this chair, I was thinking about a day of grave violence in our city, and the plastic rods represent shots – with every gun shot, integrity is sacrificed.”
Designer’s Statement: “This once-proud chair lost its pizzazz; worn, torn, and dirty, but what wonderful bones it possessed. Max was in need of a contemporary update with fabrics, paint, and a plethora of nail heads. He shines once again.”
Designer’s Statement: “Furniture is sculpture to me. And as much as I love to engineer a good chair, sometimes I’d rather just carve one out. Using only reclaimed or leftover materials made this project that much more rewarding. Only the LEDs in this chair were purchased new.”
Designer’s Statement: “Rather than create something out of a whole cloth, the goal is to transform the mundane, to take a pedestrian object that we regularly encounter but rarely notice. To see something with fresh eyes and imagine the possibilities. That, and a racing stripe.”
Designer’s Statement: “The light color of this chair reminded me of the hone-colored wooden vigas and furniture of Santa Fe. Its simple, strong lines provided the perfect backdrop for the bold, bright woven colors and pattern of the blanket. I loved marrying the distinctly European form of the chair with the ethnic feel of the upholstery.”
Designer’s Statement: “The muse for Intern Gilly was our summer intern – a modern classic with an unconventional streak. A juxtoposition of clean lines and funky upholstery (with exposed seams) hints at the fact that you never know what to expect from this gal. Oh, Gilly, behave!”
Designer’s Statement: “These chairs had been left for dead at my upholsterer’s – stripped of fabric, but with these great bones. I envisioned them as sexy French parlor chairs. The smoky purple velvet has a seductive feel, and the hand-blocked and embroidered fabric from Seema Krish adds a hint of the exotic.”
Designer’s Statement: “I had always wanted to incorporate Tony’s (Fitzpatrick) work into a piece of furniture. The reproduction of the drawing collage ‘Desire’ as a cushion seemed to be a warm and sensuous use of this lovely work of art.”
A special “thank you” to my friend Vanessa for these lovely photos of the event!
We hope you enjoyed our inaugural post on Jordan Witkov’s Bucktown gallery, 360SEE. His pup, Homer (down boy!), is by far our new favorite store mascot. Have you visited his gallery? Keep in touch and let us know if you love it as much as we do.
While we plan on using Matter Observed as a platform to share with you what matters to us, we also want to know what matters to you. How has good (or bad) design affected you? What aspects of your life could be improved by design? Know of someone who has changed lives for the better with art or design? We are certain you have your own thoughts on these matters, so let us know by posting a comment below… come on, don’t be shy!
Thanks again for visiting Matter Observed. We hope you come back and see us real soon – there will be much more talk and exploration in the always amazing, always fascinating world of art and design.
The Witkovs outside their Bucktown gallery, 360SEE
I first visited 360SEE in the fall of 2009 while shopping for a client who wanted to have that elusive pièce de résistance for his living room. He wanted something that house guests would be drawn to, “like a moth to light,” so that he could tell its back story, opening up dialogue and sparking conversation. He also wanted the piece to have been made in good conscience, i.e. sustainable. As it turned out, Jordan Witkov’s Bucktown gallery was my client’s proverbial candy store, with magnetically strange, beautiful, functional, and sustainably made pieces alike. Jordan (and his pooch, Homer) greeted us at the door, welcomed us with a firm handshake and a smile, and proceeded to give us a tour, telling us the sometimes funny but always fascinating stories behind each piece. I recently caught up with Jordan to get his story, and to see what’s new at 360SEE:
Matter Observed: Jordan, tell us a little about your background and your motivation to start 360SEE.
Jordan: I received my BFA with a dual degree in painting and printmaking and electronic based media from Carnegie Mellon University. I have spent my professional career working in and around galleries, sales, as a graphic designer / art director, and in visual merchandising.
'Menagerie of the Obsolete' By Jennifer Khoshbin (2010)
My motivation to start 360SEE was fueled by my passion for art and design but also by doing something that had never been done before. While there are numerous fine art and functional galleries throughout the world, 360SEE differs in that all of the artists and designers that exhibit through the gallery address various levels of sustainable practice in their work.
Matter Observed: Being a close observer to the art/design world, have you seen any notable changes in the Chicago art/design scene over the last 5 years? If so, what do you think are the reasons for this change?
Jordan: I think that the recent rise of apartment galleries, pop-up galleries, and art and design collectives have changed opportunities for Chicago area artists and designers. In the last couple years, otherwise unrented and inexpensive spaces have given birth to many more opportunities, especially for young or early career artists in Chicago.
'Tired Lounge' By Leo Kempf (2010)
Matter Observed: More opportunities means more artists, which is always good for Chicago’s cultural scene. But as consumers of art/design, how does one go about starting to collect? This is a fairly common question we hear from some of our younger clients at Matter & Order. Are there any insider tips to remember when looking for and purchasing a piece?
Jordan: First, buy what you love! It doesn’t matter if it is a $.50 purchase at a flea market, a thousand dollar purchase at a gallery, or if you are jumping in with both feet as a blue-chip art and design collector – if you don’t love it, what’s the point of having it?
It is good to work with a gallery or professional that you trust. However, while interior designers, art consultants, or gallerists can tell you why they think a work is good, important, and why it makes sense in your design scheme – if you don’t want to look at it every day, it doesn’t make you smile, trigger a memory, evoke an emotion, and so on – wait to find a piece that does.
'RD-4 Legs Limited Edition' By COHDA (2007)
You should always buy quality pieces that you will want to keep over time. I often find young collectors, both in age and experience, say they are looking for a painting that would fit a perfect spot in their rental, or 1.5 bedroom condo, or that matches their red couch. While these can be valid concerns, I like to pose the following questions to new collectors:
How long are you going to live in that rental property? Do you plan on still living in that condo 5 years from now? And, is that the last couch you will ever own?
Unlike the typical answers to those questions – “not long” or “no” – a piece of art, a well designed piece of functional art or furniture is something that can be enjoyed beyond a single home and upholstery color choice, often over the course of a lifetime or even generations.
Matter Observed: Of all the incredible art and designed objects you’ve housed at 360SEE over the years, what has been your favorite piece?
'Robot' By David Todd Trost (2010)
Jordan: My favorite piece at the gallery right now, and maybe of all time, is the nearly 4′ tall “Robot” by Chicago artist David Todd Trost. Trost’s terracotta robot stands 46″ tall with a wing span of 41″ wide and a girth of 14″ deep. The piece is impressive in its own right, with a combination of thrown, slab and coil, and cast ceramic techniques – but the robot is also functional. The interior of the bowl shaped hips holds a 10″ speaker wired for sound with a 1/8″ jack that runs into a small Ephiphone amp from which you can hook up an ipod, stereo, or even your guitar.
Matter Observed: Tell us about your current exhibit, Doorbusters, which runs through the the middle of January (1/16/11).
Jordan: The show, which does not have to be dissected to be enjoyed, was constructed to be layers of thought upon playful and approachable work. Each artist created work that referenced their memories of childhood holiday consumerism, and consumerism in general. However, at the same time the artist participating (and all artist that show through 360SEE) are conscious of the impact of man, and in some way focuses their art making practice within the confines of more sustainable media.
Matter Observed: So, what is next on tap at 360SEE?
Jordan: Funk-tion. You’ll just have to stay tuned!
Matter Observed: Lastly, and just for fun, Matter Observed would like to know the answers to the following:
Last author read: Don Rickles “Rickles’ Book – A Memoir” Last song heard: “My Life is Right” by Big Star just came on Last food consumed: A banana and 2 clementines Last drink imbibed: Gingersnap tea (it is before 5pm)
Matter Observed: Jordan, thank you for your time.
Jordan: Thanks for your interest in 360SEE.
You can visit Jordan’s gallery and see what we’re talking about for yourself.