D-BROS, a Japanese design company that produces ultra-modern housewares, has crafted the beautiful Waltz Cup and Saucer — a teacup with a mirrored, palladium finish that reflects the geometric patterns of the plate on which it is placed. The product is well-named, for like two dancers, the saucer and cup must be in proximity and working together in order to create a work of art. The product is made out of Hasami porcelain on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, which is known as one of the world’s great pottery hubs. Each cup is carefully handmade so that the surfaces are completely smooth; “after all, even the slightest scratch would create distortions throughout the reflection.” (Source)
The cups, once removed from their beautiful saucer-companions, will of course reflect everything else surrounding them — the color of your sweater, or whatever ordinary items are lying around your kitchen table, for example. And at ¥7560 (approximately $62.00 USD) per set, the cups and saucers are less practical than a piece of art, but there is something to be said for the integration of art, geometry, harmony, tranquility into our everyday lives; interestingly, these are the spiritual and aesthetic values which are present in the Japanese traditional practice of tea ceremonies (Chanoyu), wherein the functionality and practicality of drinking tea is subsumed into ritualistic acts that achieve refinement, simplicity, beauty, and peace. Thinking of it this way, there is much significance to be appreciated in the harmony and creativity ingrained in D-BROS’ designs.
While sold out elsewhere, the Waltz Cups and Saucers can still be bought from D-BROS. Visit their website and explore some of their other intriguing designs. (Via Laughing Squid)
German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol‘s carved, expressionless wooden figures and reliefs have many critics wondering just what they are about. Balkenhol sculpts stoic characters standing on top of plinths with minimal detailing, wearing basic, unfussy clothes and who are often staring off in space. His figures are everyday people, caught in a disengaged daydream. Working in African Wawa, Oak, or Lebanese Cedar wood, Balkenhol uses a hammer and chisel to reveal the figure, choosing to leave bits of shavings, knots, grains and cracks visible in the finished piece. The rough hewed sculptures are then painted over in bright block acrylic color, emphasizing the plainness of their shape. Balkenhol manages to remove all personality and emotion from his figures, effectively turning them into a blank canvas, ready for the viewer to project their own story, and interpretation onto them. The artist explains:
I’m perhaps proposing a story and not telling the end, just giving a beginning or fragment. There is still a lot for the spectator to complete… (Source)
Balkenhol has been carving the human form for a few decades now, and has shown it in many different forms. He has figures dancing on top of plinths, carrying out various dance steps; a lady in a green dress with an animal head, standing still with her hands on thighs; a man in black trousers and a white shirt with his hand slouched in his pocket. But all are as nondescript as the next. One critic dissects his work:
In the crowd, the individual is freed from the tyranny of distance and transcends the limits of his own person. If Balkenhol’s heads remain anonymous individuals, it is because they have a memory of the crowd embedded within them. (Source)
Blankenhol’s figures are a little bit of all of us – humans as individuals, and humans as a mass group; the everyday people.
Tokyo born artist Ramon Todo splices pieces of stone, volcanic rock, obsidian, fossils, books and even pieces of the Berlin Wall with translucent layers of glass. Taking raw chunks of natural material and adding highly polished bits of glass, he creates sculptures that are unstated and surprising. The juxtaposition of the sharp hard glass surface wedged in between crumbling porous rock, or forced into obsidian, or slotted into an old frayed book cover is a quiet commentary on the nature of material. By combining these distinctly different materials, Todo is talking about fragility and stability. He questions the very nature of the objects he is working with, and exploits the properties that we understand them by having. He asks us: what makes a rock a rock?
Todo collects the original stones and fossils while out walking (he is based in Dusseldorf), and initially is drawn to them as artifacts of the culture and the land they come from. By inserting something alien into these pieces, Todo is effectively rewriting their history, and the place that these objects hold in the world. With titles like Artificial Stone of Paris; Bois de Boulogne Paris 2007 #4, and o.T. – Spitz, these art works are like something from the shelves of The Natural History Museum, or the Geology Department at a university. They are definitely objects of curiosity, and you can see more of them after the jump.
Erika Sanada is a Tokyo-born, San Franscico-based sculptor whose supernatural animal creations traverse the boundary between dream and nightmare. In many ways, her creatures seem soft and gentle — the colors are pale, the textures soft. However, many are riddled with terrifying bodily anomalies: dogs with several rows of fangs, others writhing in agony and tearing at their own skin, and mutant birds bursting out of torsos and faces. The blank, dead eyes of the animals further add to their moral ambivalence; without the pupil — that center of consciousness — their eyes could be those of a gentle, all-seeing spirit, or of the soulless undead.
Whether it is their eyes, human-like skin, or abnormalities (some of the animals appear to be painfully conjoined to others), Sanada’s creations rattle with uneasiness; they are both endearing and unsettling in their suffering and strangeness. In her Artist Statement, Sanada identifies her own experiences with anxiety as the source of her inspiration. “I worry about everything, even tiny things,” she writes. “Anxiety drags my mind to the dark side, which is more powerful and intense than my bright side.” Instead of being paralyzed by such fears, Sanada decided to confront them by molding them into beautiful, hideous life; it is her way of gaining control over her anxiety — and indeed, in embracing her own darkness and transforming it into art.
Sanada recently exhibited at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and will be showing again at the Flower Pepper Gallery in Pasadena, California, this Februrary. Check out Sanada’s website for a stunning gallery of her beautiful and tortured dream-creatures. (Via Design Faves)
Photographer Kacper Kowalski captures life from above in these beautiful images of the Polish woodlands. The bird’s eye view features incredible, vibrant shots that are simultaneously recognizable and abstract. Brilliant greens, blues, pinks, and purples dot the landscape and play with our sense of scale. Trees look minuscule in many of the compositions, like they’re pipe cleaners or tiny army.
There’s a divide in many of Kowalski’s photos whether it by a river, a road, or line of trees. This separated area creates a pause or compositional breath. We’re often overwhelmed by texture or patterns. The photographer’s decision to include these areas allows time for reflection and comparison. How are the two spaces different? How are they same? What does it mean for them to coexist? (via a_a)
As we move further into the digital age, designers are looking for new ways to offer products that will make even portable devices obsolete. A new product by a company called Cicret is offering a bracelet that will enable the wearer to project the functions of his/her Smartphone onto their arm. Through a simple bracelet design, a series of sensors would pick up a smartphone’s signals and project it onto your wrist. Once projected, it will be fully functional as a phone on your skin. Depending on the amount of memory you choose, social media, email and web surfing functions would all be available in places you’ve never imagined before. Those who opt for more gigabytes could also play video games. It’s Bladerunner convenience with a flick of the wrist. A video on Cicret’s site demonstrated how an arm will now function as an ipad. A scary thought, when taking into consideration the ipad was only invented 5 years ago. The speed technology moves today is lightning fast. The company currently needs 1 million euros to make a prototype. According to a statement, they currently have close to 5,000 donors but it doesn’t mention how much money has actually been raised. If they can pull it off, Cicret has a cool chance of becoming successful, and in the process, put a few of the tech giants out of business. Another issue is cost. Currently, Google glass, a similar product, is selling for $1500. As a young startup and in order to compete, Cicret would have to offer their bracelet at a third of the price. Let the games begin. (via Designfaves)
Tom Sanford has drawn portraits of the people in his neighborhood. It’s good to be, it’s wonderful to be a neighbor, Sanford seems to be saying with his empathic ink wash drawings. Sanford is an enormously skillful portraitist. He manages to both simplify and capture the emotion and spirit of the person he is drawing. In an age of constant news stories about how no one is getting along, it is great to see an artist reach out to their community and basically say ‘hey, I like you, and we are in this together.’ You can see these drawings, along with the large oil painting pictured first in this post, at his show, What’s Good in the Hood, at Gitler & _____, it opens January 4th and runs until the 18th.
Fairy tallish and painterly is still the case with Hernan Bas. The Miami native, now living in Detroit, was a promising young art star in 2008-2009. Back then, at the age of 30, he burst onto the international art scene with a traveling retrospective. His stop at the Brooklyn Museum focused on several early pieces showing the artist’s development up until that point. At the time, there didn’t seem to be enough scope to witness a grand crescendo, and the retrospective presented a young man with great potential. Fast forward six years later, and similar narratives offer a more developed sense of self. The dandy, a central character Bas is known for, stemming from the decadent period of Oscar Wilde and art critic JK Huysmans, is still steady in the mix. Bas’ canvases continue to show great flair for turning ordinary spaces into mystical landscapes. Many scenes take place in the great outdoors. The rustic lure of old country houses, backyards and windmills are further enhanced by monstrous foliage. Trees and leaves are filled with larger than life wonder and endless beauty, where a thousand and one marks, make up a single canvas. Hints of Davinci, Matisse and Michelangelo behold otherworldly elements intertwined with religion. In one, an unusual priest flys a kite of stigmata transforming physical reality. In another, a reenactment of Saint Sebastian becomes apparent. Sometimes the action is missed because of the incredible mark making. The paint dazzles and seduces you into a place of aesthetic pleasure. It reaches a certain rhythm where everything falls into place.