"A small American furniture company
dedicated to the creation of well crafted timeless designs. "

BDDW at AD HOME SHOW, all images by David John

While in New York last week,
BDDW invited us to visit their showroom to play some bow and arrows, and savor some American cooking, courtesy of Morris Kitchen in Brooklyn. Earlier in the week while at the AD HOME Show, I photographed some of their beautiful works, from lamps, to chairs, to shelving, to sectionals. The evening event at BDDW was the last night of an incredible week in New York with Modenus.

A topic of conversation that night, along with the whole trip was craftsmanship, and works of quality. This idea of filling our homes and spaces with meaning. An excellent conversation to have, and one that we never seemed to finish. More to come.
And thank you to Tyler Hays and the rest of BDDW. - David John

" A small American furniture company dedicated to the creation of well crafted timeless designs. Tyler Hays, a painter and sculptor, is the company founder and head designer. BDDW is known for their heirloom quality solid wood furniture, traditionally joined, in select domestic hardwoods. Their finishes are all hand rubbed with natural oils and lacquers. In beds, tables, seating, lamps and storage, BDDW has created dozens of classics and is constantly producing new and innovative work.

So many sponsors made this trip possible. Huge thank you for the companies sponsoring You Have Been Here Sometime's trip to the East Coast. Read full list here. Miele, DuVerre Hardware, Samuel Heath, Poggenpohl, Scholtes, Blanco, Victoria + Albert, Spirit of Sports, Big-Ass Fans, Jenn-Air, Modern-Aire.

more BDDW here.
more info on MODENUS.

Certainly no object exists within a vacuum, but no object can be fully revealed in its relations. No amount of probing or prying, copying or recreating will exhaust the object.

- Jacob Kassay

jacob kassay, no goal, april 11 2012, the powerstation

"This emergence insists on the power that things have in and over our lives. While being the banalities, oddities, or necessities that simply occupy space, they are also what make it possible to leave that space altogether. Objects all hold the endless capacity to estrange us from the comfort of the given and evoke what remains unseen or previously unthought - from the slightest nuances to upsettingly jarring experiences. An object can do this on its own, but it can also do it as a series of object working together...

The artwork, is in a sense an object within a larger object, just like a person can exist on his or her own, but when a mass of people begin to form, a different mentality emerges altogether. The movement, the feeling, and the ardor of the mass sings a different song from the single person. The mass can envelope you; the person can face you. The song can wash over you; the note can strike you. A room of red roses overwhelms you, a single R O S E endears you. Each has its own particular cadence, resulting from the separateness of each, albeit with rather blurry borders. One often focuses on these borders to suggest that there is no object, only a convenient fiction of the mind. Close inquiry at the edge of an object apparently reveals that its solidity is purely fabricated - it is instead a radical fraying: porous, trembling, a dynamic glut of flux. Implicit in this perspective is an effective atomization of the world, where one can always look closer and see that things are not what they S E E M...

It might be then assumed that the force of an object is entirely based on its relations: no inherent force of the object without light, without a spectator, without someone comparing and contrasting. Certainly no object exists within a vacuum, but no object can be fully revealed in its relations. No amount of probing or prying, copying or recreating will exhaust the object. It always has some hidden reserve. Without such a reserve, the relations between objects could not continue to surprise. We are on occasion held in a trance by such a selection of things. For sometimes objects conspire to expand and contract space and vision, doing so by relying on both the apparent features of each individual object, and the more transcendent features of the experience of the whole."

all text taken from press release, parts/whole

Gallery BAC : Soho

“ . . .Throw out and keep throwing out.
Elegance means elimination.”

Gallery BAC, NY photographs by David John

Listen, the snow is falling o’er town,
Listen the snow is falling ev’rywhere.
Between your bed and mine,
Between your head and my mind.
Listen, the snow is falling o’er town. - Yoko Ono

A quiet afternoon spent in Gallery BAC, with Swedish, French, and Danish works by the masters. The gallery is across the street from BDDW, and Mondrian Soho. - David John

"Founded in 2001 by the Architect Carlos Aparicio, BAC showcases a very unique selection of 20th Century European antiques. Within the walls of a converted warehouse in the SoHo district of Manhattan, BAC presents a spectacular collection that is driven by a great understanding of the period and a desire to display a very special and sophisticated point of view." (here)

Gallery BAC here
"Jean-Michel Frank in Argentina"
read NY Times article here.

a conversation with Cristina Grajales

"She does not believe in simply educating her clients about specific designers, but aims to enlighten them towards all disciplines related to furniture design." (here)

text spray painted upon the walls, for the latest show, "New York, New York"

ode (d) n. 1. A lyric poem of some length, usually of a serious or meditative nature and having an elevated style and formal stanzaic structure.

Last week while in New York, I had the pleasure of finally dropping by Cristina Grajales Gallery in Soho on Greene Street. After buzzing entry, I was escorted to the 4th floor via an old fashioned elevator, slowly ascending. Her latest show, "New York, New York," which is up until April 20th, is an ode to the New York design & art community. A celebration of works made by hand, that reflect the current design community. Works of ceramics, metal, and textiles line the floors and walls, spaced with breath and precision. A spray painted roster of artisan and designers centering the space on the wall. Grajales' gallery is filled with a floor to ceiling bookcase, which is overflowing with design catalogs, and books. It's the type of space I could spend a few hours, if only I had more time. New York is a dense space, buzzing and whispering, as represented by this collection. - David John

Your new show, New York, New York is inspired by the terrain of New York. Are these new artisans you are working with for this show?

Cristina: Some of the artists that are represented in New York, New York we recently starting representing like Mark Welsh, James Salaiz, and John-Paul Philippe. Precisely this is how we started thinking about New York, New York because we realized that right here in our town, we have an incredible group of talented people. Even though our collection is international, we felt it was necessary to support our local artists.

Do you find it strange that design and art is separated in the fairs?

A dealer here in L.A. told me that in Paris, stores use to show paintings, fine art, and furniture all together. There was no difference. I think about this all the time, the categorization.

Yes, I do find it strange that design and art is separated. I know that especially in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, galleries and collectors were more comfortable with all the fine arts being together. I think its getting better, but I also wonder about this division.

James Salaiz, his ceramics works (below) that are part of "New York, New York." Such a beautiful installation.

Yes, we started representing James Salaiz last November, as soon as I became acquainted with his work. I love his ceramic work, not just for how conceptual it is, but also his incredible craftsmanship. In the case of the bullets, which could also be huts, I like the fact that one can see weapons in a non-threatening way. I also love his other work based on Birds of Prey.

ceramic works by James Salaiz

How long has your gallery been in its current location?

Our gallery has been in the current location for 11 years.

As a researcher myself, any design catalogs or books you would recommend to look at?

I like to look at pre-Colombian books, and I try to be actualized as to what is going on in New York in the various galleries and museums.

How did you begin collecting, at what age, and where?

I grew up in a home where my mother is very artistic. She was always drawing, painting, and decorating. So, art has always been a part of my life. I started in my early 20's with Pre-Colombian jewelry. Since then, I have many other interests.

Can you tell me who made this work above?

This is a stool by New York based artist Stephen Burks in collaboration with Dedar fabrics. Its called Giallo from 2011.

Handcraft: Have you always been attracted to works that are made by hand?

Yes, for me, the hand element has always been important. I love textiles. I must say that it is one of my favorite mediums. Thats one of the reasons why we love so much the work of Hechizoo and Suzanne Tick.

light is by Paul Evans, 1972, single commission

Cristina Grajales Gallery
10 Greene Street, 4th Floor, New York T. 212 219 9941

"A renowned advisor and dealer, Cristina Grajales has been a leader and a trendsetter in the design market since the inception of her gallery in 2001. Cristina Grajales Gallery cultivates emerging contemporary designers working in a variety of mediums such as furniture, lighting, ceramics and textile design.

Cristina Grajales is also hailed as an expert in mid-century European and American design, and the gallery specializes in masterpieces of the twentieth-century including works by Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Serge Mouille, and Alexander Noll. Grajales has a breadth of expertise in acquisition, appraisal and education."

thank you Cristina Grajales.

all photographs taken by David John of YHBHS.
interview by David John


New York vs Vashti Bunyan

"I'd like to walk around
in your mind someday"

: 405 Broome Street New York, NY 10013
(photographs by David John)

@ AD Home Show

Ochre : 462 Broome St, New York, NY

Upstairs @ VITRA : 29 9th Avenue New York

Christina Grajales Gallery
: 10 Greene Street, 4th Floor, New York

"I'd sit there in the sun of the things
I like about you I'd sing my songs and
find out just what they mean to you"

- Vashti Bunyan, here.

Returning tonight from a week in New York. A huge massive thank you to Veronika Miller's MODENUS who organized the Blog Tour. A week of meeting with designers, showrooms, the AD Home show, and more. I'll be writing more about this trip in the weeks to come, but here are a few shots from my camera. Huge thank you for the companies sponsoring You Have Been Here Sometime's trip to NY: Miele, DuVerre Hardware, Samuel Heath, Poggenpohl, Scholtes, Blanco, Victoria + Albert, Spirit of Sports, Big-Ass Fans, Jenn-Air, Modern-Aire.

More to come, after I sleep for about 24 straight hours. - David John

(all photography by David John)

Gallery Space, Laboratorio Avallone,
Milano Week of Salone del Mobile
2012 April 17 - 22

Laboratorio Avallone, Milano Week of Salone del Mobile
2012 April 17 - 22

Gennaro Avallone + Sam Orlando Miller

Gennaro Avallone's paintings, some phantom-like and diaphanous, others textured, bold and powerful are quietly spectacular and stimulate the senses. His furniture, austere in shape and subtly coloured, surprises both by the richness and by the delicacy of its surfaces. His compelling work reveals the Greek and Arabic influences of his Southern Italian background.

Sam Orlando Miller
makes mesmerizing sculptures that absorb and reflect light. Among them are dark chandeliers with steel tassels, silver ellipses of glass and flowing forms of gold-bronze with deep emerald surfaces. His work moves seamlessly between two and three dimensions, between formal geometry and elegant shapes measured by hand and eye.

read a previous post on Sam Orlando Miller here.
all text taken from press release.


Rich, Brilliant, & Willing

intelligent and iconic; simple yet expressive
AD HOME Show at booth 116

"Delta IV is a new lighting series inspired by
propulsion systems and rooftop vents
. "

Finally meeting up with Theo, Alex, and Charles from RBW, one of the U.S.'s most innovative lighting designer studios this week. I'll be looking at some new work, hopefully lots of lighting, and their show lounge, an installation for the AD home show.

This year at the AD HOME show March 22-25, there are a number of exciting initiatives including the launch of reFRESH, a show-within-a-show dedicated to premium kitchen, bath and building products, a curated Fabric Exhibition, the MADE section of juried one-of-a-kind exhibitors, as well as the popular Show Lounge desiged by Rich, Brilliant, Willing where they will have the U.S. launch of the Ploum sofa by the Bouroullec brothers for Ligne Roset.

Huge thank you for the companies sponsoring You Have Been Here Sometime's trip to the East Coast. Read full list here. Miele, DuVerre Hardware, Samuel Heath, Poggenpohl, Scholtes, Blanco, Victoria + Albert, Spirit of Sports, Big-Ass Fans, Jenn-Air, Modern-Aire.



forever better.
better forever.


a residence at One57

, a sponsor of YHBHS's upcoming trip with Modenus believes in innovation. In the words of Carl Miele and Reinhard Zinkann, "Success is only possible in the long term if one is totally and utterly convinced of the quality of one's products." Miele began as a company in 1899 with their production of cream separators. Over the past 100 years, they've been able to stay ahead with innovation, and classic design. They've designed cars to bicycles, to refrigeration... And speaking of design.....

Day one of our trip is beginning with a tour of One57 New York w/ Miele! Beyond excited to tour this building. Christian De Portzamparc is the architect and Thomas Juul-Hansen will designed the interiors for this 90 story residential tower in the heart of NYC. After the tour of this building, Miele will be hosting a dinner party at their showroom in the D and D Building for us. Looking forward to taking tons of photos of all the events with Miele, and speaking with them first hand. Huge thank you to Miele for sponsoring YHBHS for a week in New York for these events. Truly awesome.



precision die


Adj: Marked by exactness and accuracy of expression or detail.
(of a person) Exact, accurate, and careful about details

DuVerre Hardware is another sponsor for the upcoming Modenus BlogTour. Their work will be displayed at the Modenus Booth at the AD HomeShow. DuVerre has been around since 1999, and has already made a huge impression with architects and designers for their unique designs. Their latest design is called Arroyo, which William Harvey designed with the idea of man made water channels. Pure sculpture!

Gina Lubin, the Creative Director and CEO has been so kind to sponsor YHBHS to New York. Looking forward to seeing them in New York, along with some of their upcoming designs! See you soon! - David John

Thanks to other sponsors including, Spirit of Sports, Scholtes, Poggenpohl, Big Ass Fans, Victoria and Albert Baths, Modern-Aire, Jenn Air, Vitra.


Samuel Heath

"Established in 1820, Each piece is meticulously formed from
the purest Northern European solid brass in their Birmingham factory"

a bathroom from 1904, period reference for Fairfield collection

In a few days, I'm off to New York to meet with some amazing craftsmen. Samuel Heath is a company that has been producing solid brass works for the home since 1820 in England. A company with almost 200 years experience working in their field! This company and others have sponsored my trip out to NY for the AD Home Show, an incredible opportunity. - David John

Their Fairfield Collection pulls from "the formality of the Victorian and Edwardian period whilst drawing in subtle hints of the ‘organic’ more reminiscent of Art Nouveau."

"Offering insight into the rich character and craftsmanship of the late 19th century, the Fairfield collection embodies the diversity, eclecticism and luxury of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Rather than being retrospective in design, the Fairfield collection of taps, showers and accessories is evocative of the spirit of the era and very much at the forefront of today’s demand for soft curves and forthcoming trends towards re-styling nostalgic design and interiors that create a quiet drama."

go to Samuel Heath here.
for a full line-up of Modenus Blogtour sponsors, go here.


the French taste

N i l u f a r @
PAD Art & Design, Paris
28 March to 1 April 2012

: Milan, "
Starting from the end of the Nineties, the Gallery knew how to cut out its own space and become the reference point to lovers of historical design as well as to people following the evolution of contemporary design, above all within that more learned, poetic and visionary area shifting between production and contemporary art. Nina Yashar, the gallery founder, works with her sister Nilu and a team of five people. Nilufar has its own small manifesto, composed of three words: Discovering, Crossing, Creating."

"Refinement and elegance, the
Pavilion of Art and Design represents the French taste, which promulgates the mixture and the juxtaposition of styles, has today a worldwide recognition. The Pavilion is a demonstration of diversity which perfectly handles styles and sceneries. For each edition of the Pavilion the exhibitors compete with creation, taste and talent to offer a unique and wonderful atmosphère on their stand. The Pavilion of Art and Design transforms itself in a great, smart and tasteful scene, limitless reunion of talents from all over the world. "

more information about PAD here.


Rotsen Furniture

"most of the wood is sourced from naturally fallen, well preserved trees, trunks found in rivers and lakes at the end of their life, from decaying bridges, old barns and demolished structures that are sometimes more than 100 years old, or harvested from sustainable plantations and well managed forests. "

"I’m up in the woods I’m down on my mind
I’m building a still, To slow down the time" (here)

Next week, I'm off to New York for the AD HOME Show with Modenus. One of the generous sponsors for this trip is Rotsen Furniture, a company based in Miami and Brazil. They have been designing and producing furniture since 2005. Using solid wood in interiors and spaces adds a level of comfort, a desire to slow down, to take note of the setting sun. Rotsen's current portfolio includes, tables, benches, wall sculptures, desks, as well as custom designs.

Part of the Modenus NYC Tour will be meeting quality companies such as Rotsen, engaging in conversation about their designs, process, and latest works. Hopefully next trip to Miami, I'll be able to stop in to Rotsen and photograph them making these works first hand. - David John

Kayapo Stool, made from reclaimed Eucalyptus wood

to look at the Rotsen portfolio, go here...

"Since 2005, Rotsen Furniture has created pieces integrating wood’s organic characteristics with a clean, graceful, modernist aesthetic. The starting point and inspiration for each piece comes from the wood itself. Clients include the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Hyatt and W Hotels, as well as renowned interior design firms. Furniture has been created for both residential and corporate properties in the U.S. and throughout the world including Mexico, Canada, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

A U.S. company, Rotsen produces its furniture at facilities in the U.S. and Brazil aiding in the generation of employment to help strengthen local economies and communities."

(above text taken from here)


Janette Laverriere's new editions

"Michel and Nairy Baghramain had been in a New York bookstore on a rainy day and found the only monograph on Janette Laverrière's work. Nairy thought it seemed to be strange that the works started in the 1930s and continued to the then present day. "

-Dominic Eichler & Michel Ziegler of SILBERKUPPE

"But now I don’t want to make something useful –
what I want is to tell a story. "
- Janette Laverriere

Some stories slowly unfold themselves over time. Rodney Hill sent me an email with an photograph of these captivating, fluttering red lamps, casting transient shadows upon the walls. Along with the image was an address to a Berlin gallery, to which I immediately wrote. Dominic Eichler & Michel Ziegler of SILBERKUPPE in Berlin recently showed Janette Laverrière's first time productions, that were first drawn out in 1952. Janette recently passed away at the age of 102. 50 years later, these works appear back into our world, yet there is a story that comes along with these works that is much deeper than aesthetic adoration.

In order to understand her work and Janette's story, please read this interview published in Frieze Magazine in 2009. Janette was criticized for not being commercial enough, and eventually dedicated her life to making what she has called
"useless objects."

- David John

Installation 'Entre deux actes, Loge de comédienne' by Janette Laverrière, 1947

‘Entre deux actes: Loge de comédienne’ (Between Two Acts: An Actress’ Dressing Room) 2009

"Michel and I were introduced to her through the fantastic artist Nairy Baghramain. Michel and Nairy had been in a New York bookstore on a rainy day and found the only monograph on Janette Laverrière's work. Nairy thought it seemed to be strange that the works started in the 1930s and continued to the then present day. So she researched, and she eventually requested an appointment to meet Janette and they became friends. After that they made some shows together and Janette called them spirit sisters.

In that time there was talk of making it possible to produce some of her unrealized designs - it was Janette's wish that this happened and before she passed away we were entrusted with three licenses to produce editions - the lamp - chapeau chinois, and the bookshelf are both from the early 50s. At a later date we have a fab 'whisky chair' to do too. At that time Janette was in the inner circle of postwar designers active in Paris. One of the things that interested Nairy and us was her proto-feminist viewpoint and the way that influenced her work - often meaning she didn't tow the strict modernist diet. See for example this reworked interior for an actress initiated and realized by Nairy for a show at Stattliche Kunsthalle Baden Baden (see above).

Maybe this is a good start?"

Silberkuppe began in May 2008, where they had one room for a year, did four institutional shows and took a second smaller room in Berlin. I spoke with Dominic Eichler & Michel Ziegler about their space, and the works of Janette Laverrière that were shown earlier this year in 2012.

What does your gallery focus on?

Silberkuppe has an intentionally diverse program of international contemporary artists - some of whom since just recently we started to represent - as well as many distinguished guests listed on our website. There are representatives of different generations and cultural backgrounds. We like to speak of the future and right now the future means a solo painting show by Leidy Churchman in March and a drawing and installation show with the eminent UK feminist and artist Margaret Harrison at the end of April.

How many of these lamps with be produced?

The agreement with Janette and her estate is for a numbered unlimited edition of the lamp. The first batch are numbers 1 -12.

Where are these lamps made, and how did you go about sourcing who would make these lamps?

While Janette was alive we produced a limited edition of a different variation of the lamp. and she also worked with a Berlin specialist art production firm. Janette Laverrière saw the lamps back then and was very happy. The new editions are from a design drawing from 1952, the production is now - so 1952 / 2011. Actually Janette never produced the lamp herself, so like many of her designs it remained unrealized - this was the main reason she wanted us to finally produce for her. So they are not reproductions but rather new/ first time productions that just took a while to happen!

What can you tell me about the Whisky Chair?

We are fond of it because it's quite in traditional in a sense, and a masculine chair. But one knowing Janette, a woman can easily take over and occupy, and looks to us to have been in part inspired by the designer Ruhlman - for whom Janette worked as a young designer and learned the trade.

Why is Janette's work important to you and to the continued conversation of postwar modernism?

Janette was part of the circle of most important designers working in postwar Paris and imagine there is only one other woman who is well known from this scene. In design history she was among the first to use metal tubing for indoor furniture and also the edge of multi-ply as a decorative feature.

The artist Nairy Baghramian is to thank for the art world introduction to Janette late in her life. Nairy and Janette collaborated on a number of exhibitions - in this context Janette's work is appreciated for its design aesthetics but also because of her political convictions as a cultural producer working nearly throughout the 20th Century. We consider Feminism(s) unfinished business and a key source of inspiring relevant discourse. Part of this means addressing the historical record.

A little story: when Nairy Baghramian was talking to Janette about reconstructing Janette's 1947 interior for an actress, Janette admitted she thought it odd because it was this interior which had got her criticized when shown at a design fair by the male modernists for being too subjective, narrative and things like that - i.e. the room had images of women and was in a sense gendered and was a design by a woman for a woman.

- end.

"Born in 1909 in Switzerland, Janette Laverrière studied in Basel at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule, where she learned the fundamentals of drawing and decoration. After training in her father’s architecture practice, she designed her first pieces of furniture in the late 1920s and until 1945 collaborated on designs with her first husband, Maurice Pré. Involved in politics all of her life, Laverrière joined the Communist Party in 1945. Since then she has designed rooms, affordable furniture and “useless” objects. She began making mirrors in 1936—an interest that has continued throughout her career. From Laverrière’s earliest work on, her close study of the objects of domestic life has frequently led her to create works of art at a far remove from mere functionality and unencumbered by the wishes of her clients."

- bio taken from here.

Skalitzer Strasse 68
10997 Berlin


"Andrea Branzi is passionate about the morphology of urban space; he breaks down the accepted codes and vigorously shakes the foundations of the ever-present conventions... this insatiable troublemaker continues to disrupt the status quo and places humans and nature at the centre of his thinking."

Andrea Branzi, Trees
@ Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Paris
March 10, 2012

"Trees" represents a continuation of his thinking on architecture. He creates a minimalist space of shelves, veritable pieces of micro-architecture made from aluminium that spread out in neo-plastic bursts like a Mondrian. However, through the splits in the frame, Andrea Branzi introduces trunks and twigs gathered in the wild. his strange encounter.

This strange encounter that began in the eighties with "Animali domestici", questions the duality of the nature-culture relationship.

all photographs courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

“When birch tree forests are pruned or agricultural cultivations of fruit trees are picked, they are dispersed or burned. I have always been fascinated by these parts of nature, that continue to give off a grand expressive force, more powerful when they are combined with modern, perfect and industrial materials. They become mysterious, always diverse, unique, unrepeatable and somewhat sacred presences. Trees, trunks and branches are part of our ancient culture but also of actual culture, because in the age of globalization, design searches to trace recognizable ‘anthropologoical’ platforms.

The collection, ‘Trees’ consists to place simple, everyday objects, books, and images next to the strange presence of branches and trunks, like in the reality of the world.”

- Andrea Branzi

all text and photographs courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery


a conversation with Todosomething

I found myself drawn to minimalism, and more specifically to the West Coast finish-fetish guys, like John McCracken and Billy Al Bengston. A lot of those guys around that time were in one way or another influenced by car culture, either in the formation of their work—such as Richard Prince’s shields—or in the tools that they used to create it, as in Bengston’s sprayed auto-paint works. All that stuff just got me started obsessing, I suppose."

- Chad Petersen of Todosomething


Todosomething are some of the most talented guys I know. I met them through mutual friends, and eventually came to know their work, and appreciated how they approached their craft. A merge of conceptual art and beautiful woodworking, is there anything better?

In addition to working as an interior designer, I've started writing for my favorite design publications, such as Apartamento, Freunde von Freuden, Yatzer, and now Sight Unseen. I am lucky to be connected with these design publications & editors, as well as being invited into so many amazing studios here in L.A., such as Todosomething. - David John

Read my latest story on Todosomething for Sight Unseen.

"Todosomething is a Los Angeles–based design and fabrication studio that specializes in custom furniture and cabinetry with precise, exquisite finishes and subdued color palettes. But in the last few years, as their studio has grown, partners Chad Petersen and Dakota Witzenburg have begun producing their own products as well, which are extensions of their minimal design aesthetic—the ’60s-inflected, powder-coated metal (S)tool, the paint-tipped plywood A(+) Chair, a scorched-pine slab table with spindly steel legs. Between the two practices, which overlap in more than just appearance, they’ve cultivated a reputation as representatives of a certain Modern American style, one influenced by everything from Sol Lewitt to Shaker furniture."

(more on Sight Unseen)

All photographs by Marco Annunziata and David John

"My sculptural work explored the body’s relationship to objects and spaces. A lot of it had to do with my own size. I’m rather tall (6’5”), and standard doors can be a problem if I’m not paying attention. Tables and chairs don’t seem to work either. I started making my own furniture and objects to deal with these things out of necessity, though I noticed that they could really be Frankenstein-type objects and wouldn’t always work for other people. I think I’ve always paid particular attention to the relationships between things and it’s become an obsession that I’ve honed into a career."

- Dakota Witzenburg of Todosomething

more Todosomething here.


a conversation with Catherine Willis

"Prenant appui plus sur le vide que sur le plein"
leaning more on emptiness than on fullness.

"Forms happen in an effortless, natural way."

slate, copper, perfumed silk, feathers, 2005, J.S. (U.S.A)

It was a few years ago that I was introduced to Catherine Willis' works through Ivan Terestchenko. Immediately, I found myself connected to her forms, her connection to nature, and to her use of scents, or "offerings", as she might call them. She told me that "if you are really quiet, everything has a scent, even the pebbles, even the meteorites."

It is in this stillness, that we can see, I believe. It is through artisans such as Catherine Willis, that we are able to "see" and experience the world. Catherine's work has many layers, and it has been difficult to wrap my mind around it without spending an afternoon with her in her studio. Scent is important to her work, and the experience of being present. Perhaps, it will happen in the future that we shall meet. But in the meantime, here is the conversation between Catherine and I, some of it in French and English. Letters passed back and forth in an attempt to understand her forms through images and words.

It is late tonight, and I am quiet, off to look for meteorites.

Thank you Catherine, and to Ivan. Always. - David John

above photograph by Ivan Terestchenko

I wrote to Ivan about Catherine when I began working on this interview, asking where they met:

"I met Catherine for the first time is the most auspicious and hospitable garden at a common friend's party. She was wrapped in the one of these textiles from a far away exotic and unpronounceable somewhere. It was a good start. Catherine turns whatever she touches into art. She eats, breaths, sleeps in art steadily, persistently, relentlessly with a communicating enthusiasm. Catherine is the ultimate artist in every possible sense of the word and a wonderfully gifted one too."

- Ivan Terestchenko

top: "PERFUME RING" January the 17th meadowsweet dyed silk, figtree branch, tonka beans, black cotton ligatures, sprayed with cardamom and labdanum tinctures. 2012

bottom: "TOOL FROM MY SHAMANIC GARAGE" seeds, porcupine quills, figtree twig, shell from Capbreton, cinnamon colored cotton ligatures, black cotton, sprayed w/labdanum tincture 2012

The conversation :

Scent. Will you explain how the sense of smell comes into your work?

Catherine: I consider my work as an exploration and a celebration of nature. To pay attention to smell is my way to observe quietly what I encounter on my path, a form of meditation, "Caminando se hace el camino." (translated, "walking is the way"). My blog is called Chemin Faisant. If you are really quiet, everything has a scent, even the pebbles, even the meteorites.

It is my way to acknowledge the mystery of being alive on this planet.

the perfume rings: exhibition curated by Diana Esnault-Pelterie.

Where do the scents come from, plants or other material? Where do you find these materials?

Catherine: I like to experiment. So, often I will use the propolis from my beehive, or precious scented woods brought back from souqs, or given by friends. The Perfume Rings are half filled with scented fragments and the pomegranate-dyed silks are impregnated with perfume.

How do you arrive at the forms in your sculpture? Do the scents find themselves involved in your works on paper?

Catherine: Forms happen in an effortless, natural way. I like the concept, developed by Soetsu Yanagi in his book "The Unknown Crafstman," of objects born, not made. On paper (I am always looking for interesting papers) I often use essential oils as pigments. But, I can also use bought beeswax based pastels or watercolor

the beast, 2010

Home of Ellen de Generes &Portiade Rossi. Photo from Architectural Digest, by Roger Davies

Catherine Willis' work, "Perfume Captor/ Capteur De Parfum."

Tell me about the bronze works?

I am only beginning to translate my white plaster sculptures into white patina bronzes. So far there is a photo of Bronze Parfume, the piece that now belongs to Ellen de Generes and Portiade Rossi on my site. Also in my site a photo of La Foret, portrait en pied ( with green patina bronze feet ) a piece that belongs to an Italian collector of mine, in Paris.

How long have you considered yourself an artist?

About 30 Years, I suppose. I consider being an artist is a way of life. So it does not stop when I am outside my studio.

Does sound influence your work? I noticed your installations with others involve music.

Perfumes, colors, sounds are wave lengths. I recently have begun a performance-concert project with a Brazilian musician friend from Paris, Pedro de Alcantara. He sings in overtones and plays his cello while I burn perfumes.

I'm particularly interested in an older work of yours,
7 DOORS, 7 PLANETS, 7 PERFUMES, Paris from 1985

This was the first time, in front of Charles Sablon Gallery, it has now become Musée du Montparnasse, that I was doing an installation with this correspondence between heaven and earth, between the days of the week, planets, metals, colors, perfumes. Monday, the moon, silver, pale yellow, an oak moss perfume. The spectator would go through these seven light cotton doors and smell the perfume hidden in the hems. (the ancestors of my Perfume Rings)

Since I have done several installations on the same theme ( two in the baroque Paris chapel of the Salpetriere, one performance in Venice with a pianist friend J.P.Armengaud at Ca Rezzonico in the Pulcinella room. The last one on this correspondence team is a perfumed garden I designed in Goa (together with French garden architect Alain Richert and Indian architects Nita and Arvind de Souza) for an Indian friend.

Seven granite altars on which the perfume of the day would be burned at sunset, seven colors for the flowering plans of each section of this garden by the sea.

lustre blanc, led, white plaster chandelier.2009.Pièce unique.Collection Cl. de B. France.

LUSTRE BLANC LED, the white plaster chandelier. Have you made any more hanging lights?
Were you happy with this work?

Lustre Blanc is une commande (the english word is probably commission ) from a French collector & friend of mine for the dining room of her manor house near Paris. Yes, I was happy with this work!

I have another lustre in preparation, also white plaster but bigger and with all the wiring outside, apparent. At the moment I am also making white plaster candle holders, waiting for a collector to order 2 or 3 before having them cast in white patina bronze.

The direction of your new work?

It seems my work tends to be more and more like a celebration of Nature, shamanic offerings. From cosmic events to scented plants, I celebrate color and perfume of the origins, the tension & lines of evolution, the patterns that connect.

It seems it gets lighter too, "prenant appui plus sur le vide que sur le plein": leaning more on emptiness than on fullness, like for my sculptures to be hung from the ceiling.

Who or what influences you?

Brancusi, Noguchi, Tea bowls masters, Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese Rothko, Man Ray, Piero della Francesca, John Berger, Krishnamurti, Eckardt Tolle, Jean Giono, Nicolas Bouvier, Gary Zukav, and recently Michael Ondatjee As for music, Jean Sebastian Bach, John Cage,Iranian and Indian music. Oh, I have forgotten Rainer Maria Rilke, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Wolfgang Laib.

Catherine Willis' portfolio here

visit Chemin faisant here

Not all those who WANDER are LOST." J.R.R. Tolkien