What do the objects you own say about you?

Jill Singer (left) and Monica Khemsurov, founders of the Sight Unseen design website and the authors of “How to Live With Objects” in Los Angeles, on November. 9, 2022. (Photo: NYTimes)
Jill Singer (left) and Monica Khemsurov, founders of the Sight Unseen design website and the authors of “How to Live With Objects” in Los Angeles, on November. 9, 2022. (Photo: NYTimes)
“You can only afford so much sofa,” Monica Khemsurov said, speaking of her new book, “How to Live With Objects.” The book, by Khemsurov and Jill Singer, was published this month by Clarkson Potter, and it proposes a new “manual for living,” she said, meant to loosen up the fusty rules of decor. Instead of focusing on the idea of a perfectly appointed interior, it steers the conversation toward the personal objects that truly make a home.اضافة اعلان

But how do you define an object? Khemsurov and Singer, in plainly practical terms, simply refer to objects as physical design works that can easily be collected, and allow for meaningful expression and a bit of permission to indulge.

There are considerations of cost and space, to be sure. One may be able to be a bit more daring at the object scale — unencumbered by the functional needs of a workhorse item such as a dining table. Items such as a vase, a set of flatware, or even a sculptural lamp or chair would pass the object muster, as they carry “a wide variety, both in terms of aesthetics and price points,” Khemsurov said.

As editors of interior design website Sight Unseen, Khemsurov, 43, and Singer, 44, have been both arbiters and archivists of contemporary design. They have championed eclectic, experimental work and acted as a divining rod for the social media generation, for whom design has not been a niche interest, but an integral part of a hypervisual, increasingly self-broadcast lifestyle.

The site was founded in 2009, less than a year before the start of Instagram, a platform that Khemsurov said has been “the biggest puzzle piece in what brought design to a wider audience.” Sight Unseen has been noted for identifying big aesthetic trends before they reach a mass cultural moment.

Big crazes from the past several years have included checkerboard patterns, millennial pink, terrazzo floors, all things Memphis, squiggles, and Ettore Sottsass Jr, as epitomized in the recent clamoring over the Ultrafragola, called “the most famous mirror on Instagram”.

A rarefied, radical item once considered futuristic in its material technology and even lurid in its wavy, sensual curves, the mirror has now been circulated so widely (at least as an image) that it has become a hallmark of what TikTokers now refer to as “avant-basic” style (internet shorthand for avant-garde gone mainstream).

And where shelter and interior design magazines have long sold the aspirational dream of a manicured home, Khemsurov and Singer’s focus has often been on the objects, the creative process and the designers.

“When we first started, the concept was to show people a side of design and making that they didn’t necessarily have access to,” Khemsurov said. “The idea was to bring everyone behind the scenes and show them people’s studios and personal collections — sights they couldn’t or wouldn’t normally see, in a literal sense.” During such visits, the objects would invariably become the focus, only partly out of necessity; as a startup, Sight Unseen couldn’t afford to hire photographers to properly shoot a whole room or interior.

“We’ve always been interested in what objects tell about the person who owns them,” Singer said, as well as the thinking and process behind its production, “what the object says about how it came into being, who it was made by and how it shows why the maker chose the materials they did.”

Khemsurov, a contributing editor to T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and Singer, who stumbled into design as journalists, met while working as editors at I.D., a trade magazine for the industrial design profession that folded in 2010.

They began Sight Unseen as a two-person blog, writing and shooting their own material. Over the years, it has become a network of contributors and a lifestyle brand encompassing pop-up events, online retail, product, and furniture collections as well as brand collaborations.

The book is not an anthology of Sight Unseen’s 13 years, the authors said, but it continues in the site’s spirit, with helpful sourcing tips, research guides, inspiring homes, and entertaining anecdotes from vintage dealers, curators, artists, and independent designers.

Many of the objects in the book defy conventional notions of beauty or comfort, in favor of an artistic statement, such as an awesomely grotesque “Antipastissuebox,” made by artist Ellen Pong and meticulously draped with sheets of cold cuts, cheese and olives rendered in shiny glazed clay. Also uncomfortable and noteworthy: a long, fuzzy purple bench by Dutch designer Tijmen Smeulders, who conceived it as “some kind of creature”.

In a section titled “Sentimental Objects,” writer and curator Su Wu, 40, shares a tour of the Mexico City home and gallery. The space was converted from a former community theater, and Wu said everything in her home had been given by a friend, or was found with or is reminiscent of a friend.

Wu, a longtime Sight Unseen collaborator, met Khemsurov and Singer online in the early 2010s while running a blog called “I’m Revolting,” which featured unique and anonymous works of art and craft.

Wu noted that people will often “say something is ‘very Sight Unseen,’ and you will know exactly what that person means.”

But how do the founders of Sight Unseen define the “Sight Unseen look”?

“It’s really ineffable in some ways, and it’s come back to us, when people say things are ‘so Sight Unseen,’” Singer said. “It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There is just some weird, undefinable quality that’s hard to explain.”

In Khemsurov’s estimation, “It’s just interesting enough, but not too crazy.”

Read more Property
Jordan News