So Courant! Anthropomorphic Chairs, an Art-Filled Bungalow, and Intriguing New Scents

·5-min read
Photo credit: William Jess Laird
Photo credit: William Jess Laird


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Welcome to So Courant!, deputy editor Sean Santiago’s column spotlighting emerging makers, the newest launches, and the latest design destinations in the world of ELLE DECOR.

A Showing of Artist-Made Furniture That Soaks Up the Sun

Chris Wolston’s new show, “Temperature’s Rising,” features 21 works created over the past year in the artist’s Medellín, Colombia, studio. Currently installed at Casa Perfect Los Angeles, the exhibition includes Wolston’s first forays into metallurgy, incorporating new metals like copper and bronze into his practice alongside techniques like oxidization. The resulting pieces are as cheeky as they are slightly grotesque, abstracting formal inspirations as varied as pre-Columbian ceramics and Spanish modernism into shapes that feel deeply human yet decidedly alien. It’s a vein of material ambiguity that Wolston has become ever more adept at mining; his signature anthropomorphic wicker pieces, rather than calcifying into a gimmick, have evolved into something truly satisfying and wholly unexpected, as if some phantom millennial client had commissioned the artist to recast Aaahh!!! Real Monsters with only furniture. Is it too on the nose to suggest you pick up a few pieces while they’re...hot?

A Group Exhibition Undeterred by Social Distance

Photo credit: David Mitchell
Photo credit: David Mitchell

Jean Lin’s Colony was finally able to mount the lockdown-delayed group show JOIN in New York this month, now on view through December 10. The exhibition brings together works from 12 of the co-op’s designers, which explore the “tactile meanings and emotional complexities” of togetherness through a variety of mediums including textiles, wood, stone, and even photography. Pieces on view include Studio Paolo Ferrari’s 350-pound lounge chair; a new lighting fixture by Bec Brittain, made in collaboration with the designer’s son; quilts by Meg Callahan alongside photographs documenting how their recipients lived with them over the course of a year; and even a timber urn, inspired by life as much as loss, from Grain Design. While the pieces come from disparate points of reference and lived experience, the show provides a much-needed moment to contemplate beauty, community, and the objects that bring us comfort through it all.

A New Multidisciplinary Art Space That’s Designer-Approved

Photo credit: Courtesy Bungalow
Photo credit: Courtesy Bungalow

I caught a first glimpse of Bungalow on the designer Rodman Primack’s Instagram stories, so I figured the getting was good. Opened this month by Brown graduates Saria Sakka, Quinn Schoen, and Abigail Tisch, the space exhibits art alongside household objects and even a bit of clothing. Located between New York City’s Chinatown and Lower East Side, Bungalow feels novel in its approach and perhaps necessary in its execution in the wake of COVID-19, an IRL way to shop emerging artists as well as collectible design from the likes of Ellen Pong, Shane Gabier, and the firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero. It’s nothing fancy, but that's the point: to do away with pretense. (Price still upon request.)

Nosing Around Boy Smells’ First Retail Space

Open this month through January 7, Boy Smells’ immersive pop-up at Platform in Culver City, California, will exhibit the fragrance brand’s seasonal and core collections as well as fine perfumes. The brand partnered with Leah Ring of Another Human to develop and build out the concept for the space, mixing hard surfaces like marble and aluminum with softer elements like custom-tinted pink concrete and Roman clay. “The mirrors were customized to match the shape of their fragrance bottle caps,” explains Ring. “And when you see the pedestals and mirrors together, they resemble the bottle.” Other highlights include a relief-esque nose, which Ring hand-carved out of foam, and a beautifully veined marble tabletop for displaying the brand’s iconic pink–packaged candles. Ongoing activations will take place over the course of the pop-up, including weekly yoga sessions with wellness studio SKY TING and wreath building workshops inspired by scent notes from their seasonal candles—think: rose, cedarwood, orris, fig, and black pepper.

A Reminder That My WFH Setup Needs an Upgrade

Photo credit: Joshua McHugh
Photo credit: Joshua McHugh

I’ve found myself kind of obsessed with Frampton Co’s F Collection Arc desk, shown during NYCxDesign at Exhibition Penthouse in an elegant dark green. The desk is composed of Italian poplar in a high-gloss lacquer with a “highly durable” automotive finish that is surely resistant enough to coffee spills that one might eschew coasters altogether (imagine!). The piece was shown alongside Chen Chen & Kai Williams’s Thonet 1000 chair, a classic design they decided to cover in road paint and embed with glass beads, as one does. The piece brings to mind Dior’s reinvented medallion chairs, one of the top exhibits at last September’s SuperSalone in Milan, and suggests that maybe it’s high time to revisit a few more classic styles with fresh eyes and zero inhibitions.

An Appeal to Listen to the Incense

Photo credit: Sergiy Barchuk
Photo credit: Sergiy Barchuk

Arresting images of a new line of incense landed in my inbox this week, lensed by the Ukraine-born photographer Sergiy Barchuk. OEM, the brand behind them, is introducing its hinoki sticks into a decidedly crowded home fragrance market. But the brand’s unique proposal to ritualize incense burning struck a chord in my winter-dreading heart. Informed by other cultures’ “nuanced relationships with health,” OEM founders Shun Kinoshita and Ceilidh MacLeod encourage customers to “listen to the incense”—a practice known in Japan as mon-koh (聞香)—to find clarity and calm. While I can’t speak to the health benefits of the practice, revisiting my pandemic home habits suggests that seasonal depression demands a host of cozy rituals. And mulled wine.

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