Wrap Up: Sight Unseen Offsite 2016

Words: Sam Wittwer
Images: Maggie Shannon

May 22 2016

The Grace Building has been an iconic fixture of midtown Manhattan since the mid 70’s, and this past weekend it played host to the IRL manifestation Sight Unseen’s third annual Offsite. The online magazine founded by Monia Khemsurov and Jill Singer has proven to be an aesthetic pacemaker in the world of design and visual arts since its founding in 2009.
Three years in, the Offsite has grown substantially in both size and attendance – yet the sensibilities of the designers and exhibitors retain a laser focus that is uncommon in events of this type. There was an unparalleled sense of fun in the work on show at the Offsite – from The Land of Nod’s perspective-altering giant furniture to Leong Leong’s no-shoes-allowed immersive foam installation. Perhaps the energy that can be attributed to the collective youth of the designers displaying their wares, more likely it is to do with the shared sense of exploration that seems to inform the processes and design of their work.

It is the explorative process, and willingness to take risks, that places the 70 plus exhibitors from this year’s Offsite at the forefront of their respective fields. The Sight Unseen Offsite draws frequent comparisons to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair both for its proximity in subject matter and geography (The ICFF is housed in the nearby Javits Center). Yet the two divide greatly on the matter of intent – where the ICFF is a stalwart of fine design and luxury materials, the Offsite is dynamic, approachable and forward thinking. It provides a place for people to come to see what’s next – what materials we’ll be using, what colors we’ll be seeing, who will be designing our enviroments in the years to come. Whether that be the powder coated steel of Eric Trine’s fantastically pop shelves and tables, Crosby Studios’ purely architectural shelves and chairs, and LikeMindedObjects twisty lighting and chairs – or the colored glass that became mirrored sculpture for Germans Ermičs, a luxe display for Tetra and a sleek tabletop at New Tendency.

We couldn’t be more proud to have had at least a small part in helping bring together such a talented group. Make sure to check in with Sight Unseen for more information on the Offsite and the exhibitors on view, and keep an eye out for next year’s event.

Maggie Shannon is a photographer based in Brooklyn.