RISD Show Report: He Says

I thought it would be fun to highlight some favorites from the RISD show, which recently took place down in Providence, RI. When my friend Jason from Rag + Bone Bindery offered to write about his findings, I was happy to welcome him aboard. Since I also attended the show, I'll comment on my faves in a separate report, which you'll find below, directly beneath this post. Take it away, Jason!

Sure, Holly! As most of you can imagine, the RISD alum was as creative as always. I find the show inspiring and leave wanting to make stuff. How can you go wrong with art and craft from design school students and graduates? The annual show took place this year in the new Rhode Island Convention Center in a room that was essentially a big concrete space, made festive with banners, lights and holiday music. The Rag + Bone booth was situated on a corner this year so we had steady traffic and a nice view of two aisles.

The RISD Holiday Sale is a good show to discover new designers. Current students are invited to set up a table to offer their fresh new wares, selling alongside RISD alum, many who have already been in business for several years. There seemed to be more textile arts this year as well as digital prints, and a little less traditional craft such as pottery or glass. This is a trend we see in the handmade industry which seems to be moving away from traditional made-by-hands crafts towards more design driven products - cards, funky bags, t-shirts, prints, etc. For example, we attend the New York International Gift Fair twice a year and noticed that they've relocated their Handmade vendors into the General Gift sections. We're all for the change and like this new direction.

Although we saw less traditional craft, what we did see was updated with a more designed, contemporary look.

For example, the wonderful folks at Altamira Lighting introduced a new line of screen printed textiles. Bold patterns in sophisticated (but not stuffy) color palettes. A big change from their line of lamps.

Other artists that caught our eye: Elise Moran creates natural, organic silver metalwork, necklaces, rings and such which have a contemporary feel and solid craftsmanship. Elise makes her work by hand in her Portsmouth, New Hampshire studio.

Anna Galloway Highsmith creates "Whimsical and obsessive terracotta pottery" in her Rhode Island studio. We just love this work. She's shown at the RISD show before but we must have been stuck in our booth because we wouldn't have forgotten the earthy colors and superbly crafted funky pots and cups. Check out the website gallery for more images.

We bought a print from Illustrator and funny guy Joe Quinones - a robot taking a bath. The print has a quirky color palette and composition. We thought our daughter, who has an anthropological interest in robots, would like the idea of one engaging in an everyday, human activity. With a rubber duckie. Here's Joe with his Robot.

Former Rag & Bone bookbinder Greg Poulin creates whimsical, formal portraits of everyday food items such as cheese doodles, Peeps, marshmallow spread and popcorn. We miss Greg's lightning-fast bookbinding skills and are glad to see him doing so well. If you're looking for a colorful painting for your kitchen, visit his website. (I have to have the Sock Monkey painting... Did you guys see it? Look closely below. - holly)

We first saw the work of Heather Wells at the Craftland show, also in Providence, and purchased one of her paper star kits. She was very helpful and gave us a hands-on lesson on how to make the stars (I think we've got it!). And don't you love the cocktail umbrella Happy Hour light shade? New this year were Cheers Spheres holiday ornaments. They even light up inside!

Jenine Bressner wasn't actually showing at the RISD show, but when she walked by with this one-of-a-kind necklace, we just had to ask, "Did you make that?" She did, and has a website you can visit. I can only imagine how much time it would take to make one of these. They're stunning!

Keri works at Rag + Bone during the day and creates playful,sightless bunnies at night. What we love about these little guys is that they are so minimal yet retain their "bunny-ness". No eyes, no nose, no whiskers, but the ears and the shape say, "I'm still a bunny!" Contact keriberryproductions[at]hotmail[dot]com for more information.

Laura Kramer was showing these unique chalkboard glass vases - smooth on the inside, chalkboard like texture on the outside. We have a few of her glasses, the spiral colored ones which are so thin and light in person, but which have not broken or chipped even after daily use and a dishwasher - and our five year old daughter. Her work is sophisticated and technical - but you still want to use it. Laura also lives on a house boat - how cool is that?

Meryn Hall creates little dolls, playthings for kids and kid-like adults. Birds, monsters and creatures from our imaginations. Soft and cuddly, the kind of creatures you want to name and make up stories about. (Hey, Meryn is married to Rag + Bone Journal Maker Will Schmidt.) Contact dirteespatula[at]hotmail[at]com for more information.

Thanks Jason for a great summary. My review follows in the post below, the She Says side of things... :)

Thanks again, Jason!

(images from jason thompson)