Saint Clair Cemin

"I do not think that you can capture life with language.
You can use language as a pointing device." - Saint Clair Cemin

2012 stainless steel, bronze, edition of 3

"Paul Kasmin Gallery
presents SIX, Saint Clair Cemin’s (b. 1951, Cruz Alta, Brazil) inaugural exhibition with the Gallery, on view at 515 W 27th Street from September 6 through October 13, 2012, alongside the artist’s New York public art debut. Stringing together the rational, the unknown, the unconscious, and the dream, the Brazilian sculptor combines his signature pluralistic style with both concrete and abstract expressions in this exhibition of six new sculptural works, all made in 2012. Beyond the walls of the gallery, Paul Kasmin Gallery partners with the Broadway Mall Association (a New York non-profit organization working to beautify and maintain the malls of Broadway from 70th Street to 168th Street) to present Saint Clair Cemin on Broadway, an additional seven sculptures by Cemin at outdoor locations from early September through November 2012.

SIX illustrates surrealist sculptural snapshots of Cemin’s past, embodying his first experience of a profound sense of loss. Anchoring the gallery exhibition, a large piece titled Maman (the French word for “Mommy”) serves as both a surreal portrait of the artist’s mother and a philosophical reflection on the universal idea of mothers. The complex abstractionist works, World as Flow and Greece, seem to be one figure, acting out different stages of movement. Greece turns geometry inside out, as a four-armed and four-legged creature entangled in itself, illustrating the expansion of time, while World as Flow collapses in on itself to create a continuous, self-jailed structure."
text taken from gallery press release..

Greece, 2012, edition of 3, bronze

"Paris is a wonderful city, but in the ‘70s was quite boring for a young man. It was not the kind of atmosphere that made me feel as if I could progress, simple as that. In Europe you are what you are born into. There is no notion that you are what you make yourself to be. This is completely an American notion. It’s very fertile here for people who have ideas. You don’t know how hard it is in Europe to find information and tools for any craft, it’s unbelievable. Professional secrets are guarded inside…"

"I was seeing that there are entire populations of objects which are proletarian: stuff that’s cast out, that is supposed to be so uncool and so out of fashion, so absurd, or completely objectionable. I think if they are so objectionable, then there must be something very interesting about them. They’re objectionable to the intellectuals, and they are devoured by the masses. I was quite used to intellectual discourse, but I have the impression that life is not that. I do not think that you can capture life with language. You can use language as a pointing device. Language is an excellent tool. It’s being glorified by people like Lacan. My project was to use my studio as a laboratory. But I felt that to use the studio as a concept and then to show all the work as part of that concept was a really cheap trick, and would immediately cut me off from the very people whom I wanted to have access to—regular people who look at things and say, oh, this is a nice object, or it’s not a nice object. I like it, or I don’t like it. It’s that mentality which is pre-conceptual art. I just introduced pieces as pieces, each piece is itself, and that’s it."

(text taken from BOMB, interview with Saint Clair Cemin, read full interview here. )

Paul Kasmin here.

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(all photos by David John)

A long weekend spent winding up the coast to wine country(!) in Northern California with our cameras in hand to photograph our lasted DISC Interiors residential project we recently completed. During the planning phases we decided to stay a night in San Francisco, one of the main reasons being to see the store, owned by Sam Hamilton, called MARCH.

Josh Vogel has works in abundance in MARCH, some that were part of a show from earlier this year. (read a previous interview with Josh Vogel here) Also, a basket maker and artist also from New York I admire, Jonathan Kline, had sculptural large forms in March's store front window and smaller works/baskets scattered through out the store. - David John

works by Josh Vogel

"There is a very big aspect of the work that I do that is rooted in a long line of craft tradition. One of my favorite quotes to paraphrase is Isaac Newton’s one about "standing on the shoulders of giants…And if I have seen further it’s because…”.

Checking in with this idea is very much a part of my daily life. But, I gather as much inspiration and motivation from my daily life, my immediate environment, & the people around me as I do from looking backwards or forwards. The instance of my own connection happens only by being absolutely present & engaged. It unfolds & reveals itself moment to moment…there is no great mystery here, it’s just the nature of work & being creative.

read full interview with Josh Vogel here.

Sculptures by Jonathan Kline,
Blackash Baskets, Trumansburg, NY

Stools by Sawkille, Catskills NY

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A conversation with Duncan Nicholson

"Prepare your shoes, Not to come back soon, Prepare your heart, Not to stop too soon...
One step inside , doesn't mean you understand"

- lyrics by Notwist

all photography by David John

Certain invitations you should not pass up, like touring the James Turrell skyspace at sunset with Duncan Nicholson, the architect behind this skyspace, as well as the current addition to the Sheats/Goldstein Residence. Duncan Nicholson was the last architect hired by the visionary John Lautner, and has been working on this property with Goldstein since his beginnings at Lautner's firm.

Last year when I visited this home (read more here) for what would have been Lautner's 100th birthday, I wrote, "At times, I felt like I was in an eagle's nest, high among the trees, and the smog of the city below. I dare to dream of the colors of dusk these views would allow." Well, that night, I returned to see...

Shortly after giving us a tour of the Sheats Golstein residence, Duncan led us down the floating concrete steps, gently weaving through the thick forest as the night began to approach. Around the corner, I spotted the first glimpse of the Turrell skyspace, a large concrete box of sorts. A huge thank you to Duncan and Lee Nicholson.

- David John

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DISC Interiors

residential project:
downtown Los Angeles 1920's loft

Summer in Los Angeles is a time of slowness, lazy days, and the most inspired sunlight. The morning we photographed our latest DISC project, the light invading the loft was beyond perfect. There is something about working with homes that have history and a presence. This loft was home to a very prominent furniture company in the L.A. area in the 1920's. Looking forward to sharing more photos of this loft soon. - David John

More images to come soon from completed residential projects.
For more information, please visit
DISC Interiors

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“The landscape here inspires everything I do. I live in a valley surrounded by mountains. It’s a very extreme climate: desolate in the winter and quite alive in the summer.

CASTE in the July 2012 edition of Vogue Living Australia. Ty Best approaches his design as sculpture, pulling references from the sky, space, travel. Personally, they call to mind 3 of my favorite designers/sculptors that pushed form into their own netherworlds : Lee Bontecou, Gae Aulenti, and Philippe Hiquily.

"With their tripod bases and tapering, stalactite-like legs, some of Ty Best’s furniture pieces look a little like sinister creatures from a retro science fiction film. But don’t fear: there’s nothing at all menacing about the furniture’s affable designer. “With their sense of animation, a few of my pieces can be a little scary,” Best says playfully. “It’s never conscious, even though I love everything related to planets and space travel.” In fact, CASTE, the exquisite line of furniture, lighting and one-off objects Best founded in 2007, derives its inspiration much closer to home. “My work is really driven by the tension between what’s in my mind and what I see in my surroundings,” explains the designer, who has lived in remote Missoula, Montana, since 1995. “The landscape here inspires everything I do. I live in a valley surrounded by mountains. It’s a very extreme climate: desolate in the winter and quite alive in the summer.”

for more information on CASTE

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An afternoon with Xavier Veilhan at Neutra's VDL

“This house is not about a façade but about a function, not about size or luxury but about the quality of light and its connection to the outdoors. The interior of the building has been thought through like a car, a plane, or even more like the cabin of a boat: it is the perfect equation between people, function and environment.

I want to celebrate and expand the concept of modernity that this represents.” - Xavier Veilhan

Mobile (Neutra)
(all photography by David John)

For the past weeks, Xavier Veilhan and his family have been living in Neutra's VDL in Silver Lake. As we gathered on the top floor, looking blindly out into the reservoir, Xavier mentioned his children had been choosing to sleep on the top level of the VDL House in their sleeping bags. Each morning, as the sun rises, they move into the corners, he told us, hiding from the sun, stealing a few more hours of sleep from nature. It is near impossible to hide from nature in this home.

"The VDL house was the embodiment of then current European avant-garde design scarcely known to the people of Los Angeles. Its architect was equally unknown. Yet in years hence his name became famous and his works associated with modern architecture in California. This house was Richard Neutra’s own, his third building in America and the house in which he was to live and work for nearly three decades." (here)

Xavier Veilhan has not only been living in Neutra's VDL Research House, but he has been working on Architectones. His site specific installation consists of sculptural forms that speak of the presence of Neutra, modernity, as well as his own family's history and interactions with the home. Outside the home by the sidewalk on Silver Lake Blvd, a large black silhouette of Richard Neutra stands strong underneath a street lamp. I imagine late-night drivers gazing twice in their rear-view mirrors, wondering if they had witnessed the ghost of Neutra.

On the roof of the VDL, Veilhan has constructed and installed a black flag, to which Veilhan mentions his love for the iconic L.A. band, Black Flag. It was actually through music that I first encountered Veilhan's work, which was on the cover of the pop electronic band, AIR. Later, I discovered his collaborations with musician Sebastien Tellier, and designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, as well as Daniel Buren. (who has a show up now at ACE Gallery on Wilshire).

Veilhan's works inhabit the rooms and balconies, painted in matte black, except for his "Mobile (Neutra)" which in its silver and shimmering tones, gently interacts with the sun's rays. An ode to light and nature.

Neutra's VDL Research House has had many years of neglect. It's fate looked darkened for quite some time. (Read an article by Orhan Ayyüce, about its current history). But today, the house was alive with visitors, speaking of art, a family using the space for creation and experimentation. The roof top reflecting pool was being filled with water once again, as we gathered, looking out, further, and further, into the hills. A perfect Los Angeles sunset.

- David John

the black flag and silhouette of Veilhan's family on the roof of the VDL

the exterior of the home

"Xavier Veilhan has created a new body of work specifically for the Modernist house Richard Neutra designed for his family and architectural practice. Consisting of monochrome interventions, the exhibition features sculptures throughout the property, from the front garden through the ground floor and domestic quarters to the rooftop reflecting pool. Statues, models, and other objects dialogue with the Modernist structure: its glass facades, rooftops, water basins and fountains. Both abstract and figurative, the artworks loosely trace the decades of the last century by focusing on the personal and professional history of architect Richard Neutra, his times, and Veilhan and his family’s interaction with the house." (taken from press release)

"Neutra on Horseback"
-Xavier Veilhan

“Only those, who have lived in a Neutra House, would ever understand how wonderful the daily satisfactions and delights are and how much this experience help to augment the joy of living. This especially the case in this house which is built on three levels. With the many glass surfaces, mirrors, pools that reflect trees and flowers, every step from room to room, stairway up and down, is an aesthetic and artistic experience, which I have the good fortune to enjoy, while I move about the house and watch the changing weather.

- Mrs. Dione Neutra

Xavier Veilhan, with Mobile (Neutra)

Xavier explaining the connection of the circle, sound, and modernity.
This work, not yet installed, was about to be installed next to Neutra's circle,
near the entrance to the VDL.

"Veilhan’s Architectones project in Los Angeles is organized by local architect, curator and educator, Francois Perrin. He has completed several contemporary residences and curated the exhibition “Yves Klein: Air Architecture” at the MAK Center for Art & Architecture at the Schindler House and other venues. Notes Perrin, “This project participates in the long tradition of artists interacting with architecture and writes another chapter in this ongoing dialogue. It reactivates an important building of Los Angeles architectural history through the eyes of a contemporary artist” (taken from press release)

catalog from previous Veilhan show

The VDL Research House is located at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles 90039. The exhibition will be open Thursday–Sunday from August 9 – September 16, 2012. Hours are Thursday/Friday 3-8 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission is $10 on Saturdays, when there are docent-led architecture tours of the house. The suggested donation on other days is $10. Related events are free with donation to the VDL House. For more information on Architectones Los Angeles, please visit:

(all photography by David John)
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DISC Interiors

residential project:
Los Feliz Hills

custom vanity, brass + oak + marble for the master bathroom

last finishing details of the kitchen,
oak jewel-box interiors for the cabinetry

extra thick oak butcher block kitchen island

More images to come soon from completed residential projects.
For more information, please visit DISC Interiors here.
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A conversation with Own entity

"We haven't had any mentors in the traditional sense, but many of our peers have also started breaking out on their own, and we often use them to bounce ideas off of. It's interesting how this other entrepreneurial culture becomes apparent when you stop working for other people and become a small business owner. " - Own entity

Own Entity
, an interior design practice based in New York City, began over 3 years ago. In a short time, their work has taken on a life of its own. Dana Jaasund and Carrie Dessertine, the 2 founding principals moved to New York after receiving their Masters of Architecture, working for other firms before beginning Own Entity. Krista Schrock of DISC Interiors engaged with Dana and Carrie about the beginnings of their firm, their ideal client, as well as their motivation for going out on their own. - David John

How did you know you were ready to start your own design studio?

Own Entity: After 10 years of working in various offices, we felt like it was time to make a change. We had always discussed partnering up and starting our own firm, ever since working on projects together in school at the University of Virginia. The timing seemed right, but it was a big leap of faith.

Was this transition a difficult one and how much time did it take for you to become established?

It was a big change for us to make our own rules, and not have the structure and stability of a larger office. We were lucky to land some big projects in our first year, so we had to act fast when it came to finding an office, and getting the business up and running. We're not sure whether we can call ourselves established at this point. We are still shocked when people we don't know contact us to tell us they like our work.

Who has been an inspiration (or possibly a mentor) to you during this process? Do you feel a mentor is a necessary part of success?

We haven't had any mentors in the traditional sense, but many of our peers have also started breaking out on their own, and we often use them to bounce ideas off of. It's interesting how this other entrepreneurial culture becomes apparent when you stop working for other people and become a small business owner. As a partnership, we've depended on each other's different skill sets and strengths to help us build the company. When you're starting out, there are designers whose work inspires you, and there are business models that you've seen succeed. Part of starting your own firm is creating a better model for how these things work together.

What has been the greatest challenge presented to you in running your own design firm? What has been the easiest thing? What has been the hardest thing?

It's hard to foster our creativity while at the same time juggling all the practical aspects of running the business. At the end of the day, our creativity is the main focus. Maintaining a balance between running the business and actually doing the work can be challenging in the day-to-day.

Did any of your previous clients follow you to your new practice or did you seek out new clients upon starting your own firm?

We sought out new clients when we started the company. In time we've been contacted by several people whom we worked with at previous offices. It's unusual for a client to stick with one designer for multiple projects especially in the economic climate we're in. That being said, if a designer has had a good working relationship with a client in the past, it's only natural for the client to seek out that designer again in the future.

How do you go about finding new clients?

So far we've been extremely lucky in that all of our clients have approached us, mostly through referrals. A lot of the residential clients have seen our work on design blogs and find us that way. In a culture where everybody can have a pretty website, we find that a personal recommendation from a former client goes a long way to distinguish our firm from others.

How do you identify an ideal client? What makes you decide to work or not work with a client or take on a project?

We take on many different types of projects of varying scales, but ultimately we decide whether to work with a client if the chemistry is good and we think the project itself is a good fit for us. The design process can be very personal, and in meeting with new potential clients it can come down to how our personalities mesh just as much as the project's parameters. Ideally the client shares our enthusiasm for design, but we are presented with a unique and inspiring design challenge.

What bit of advice could you offer someone who is considering transitioning from working for a design firm to establishing their own firm?

Don't underestimate the amount of work involved in running a business. While it's great having the freedom to do your own design work, there is a lot of day to day work involved in managing client relations, finding new work, and managing work flow. Also, one needs to seriously consider what kind of lifestyle you want to have, as running a business means very little financial stability, at least in the first few years.

"Own entity is an interior design practice that specializes in creating, and recreating, the interiors of hospitality, commercial, and residential spaces. Combining the precision and rigor of their architectural training with the effortless style of natural-born designers, Own entity transforms interiors into experiences. "
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DISC bulletin board

1 Stainless-steel door, Roger Mallet Stevens, architect, ironwork by Jean Prouve.

2. Casamidy iron and leather pulls. Looking forward to using these for an upcoming project.
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