That we find great romance in maps is a given. We may deem them indispensable in the moment, but our attachment to old fashioned printed maps tends to linger long after the moment has passed—when the creased and stained travel maps we’ve crammed into our purses and pockets have morphed into our lives’ ephemera, reminders of where we come from, where we’ve been, and where we wish we had gone. Try getting all that from a Google map.
Designer Melissa Schwall gives map adoration a winsome, literal spin. Schwall, whose work can be found amongst the novel hand-crafted offerings at Uncommon Goods, has applied her romantic worldview to a collection of made-to-order collages designed for lovers, in which two halves of a heart, each carefully extracted from a specific area of a new or vintage paper map, are brought together to form a single fully-formed heart—creating a graphic illustratiom of the merging of two disparate worlds. Personalized copy completes the art piece. which Schwall creates by hand, and delivers framed.
Schwall is amongst a range of artists, designers, and craftspeople featured on Uncommon Goods, a Brooklyn-based online marketplace for quirky, inventive home decor, fashion, and artworks, sourced directly from the original makers. Sustainability and social responsibility—in addition to the championing of a select group of creatives who ply their trade by hand—lies at the heart of the company ethos. Uncommon stuff.
The Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury has amassed a body of work informed by the world of fashion, luxury goods, and consumerism, all of which are presumably referenced in this 2009 typographic piece—an installation in which neon has seldom been applied to such refined effect.
The Columbia-born, France-based contemporary artist Ivan Argote works in a range of media that includes painting, photography, sculpture, and video. Little wonder I’d be partial to this recent poetic installation, “Excerpt: Tell me Lies”—which may look like a serendipitously fractured urban wall, but is, in fact, a carefully composed hybrid of architecture and text, realized in concrete, paint, polyurethane, and steel.
“When English is not your first language, words can often sound conspicuous. I thought the word “exit” was the same as “exile.” Both words signify…a threshold you are crossing, not only physically, but symbolically as well.” Columbian artist Nicolas Consuegra, who spent formative creative years in New York City, knows something about feeling displaced—and finding expression in a modified Exit sign installation, created in 2006.
Even accomplished furniture and product designers need to express themselves more informally. French designer Pierre Charpin, whose portfolio includes furniture for Ligne Roset and tableware for Alessi, finds expression in repetitive lines. His Loop drawings, originally executed in felt tip pens, have been converted to a suite of four digital prints, each now available for purchase in a limited edition of 50. “I attach great importance to this practice,” says Charpin of the act of drawing, “because it is the link to my visual arts background.” An awfully pretty link, I’d say.
Allen Grubesic’s mixed-media light box puts a more, well, exciting, spin on a standard exit sign.
Must hand it to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Diffusing the gravitas and reverence of the great Vincent’s public image is no easy feat. But they’ve cleverly managed it with the subtle humor of this ad campaign for the museum cafe–which features a still life image that’s, well, almost perfect.
Any artistic practice that calls itself Snarkitecture can’t be expected to have a wholesome worldview, and the Brooklyn-based team behind the name is particularly drawn to imperfections. Broken Ornament, made from gypsum cement, may raise a few eyebrows around the Christmas tree, but there’s no denying its wabi-sabi allure.