White Marble Duvet Set by SAFE HOUSE USA
Keehnan Konyha is the founder and creator behind SAFE HOUSE USA, a bedding and home goods brand created around concept of street wear.
Konyha has recently been interviewed by a wide ranging selection of media all focusing on his collaborations with artists, affordable but cutting edge bedsheets and monochromatic prints.
However what seems most fascinating about SAFE HOUSE is why is no one else is doing this? And if there are others, why do we not know about it? The vast majority of contemporary interior designers seem to cater for a market over the age of 35 in a family orientated way. Konyha merges his Brooklyn lifestyle into his practice to great effect. In our recession fuelled times the prospect of investing in furniture or other areas of interior design is not always so realistic, especially for people under the age of 30. Most young people now share houses, or live with their parents, meaning that the bedroom is their only personal space. SAFE HOUSE caters to a perfect market, creating bedding sets and throws with impeccably fresh prints in a manner that can transcend any bedroom and be transported as frequently as your lifestyle pleases.
For Sang Bleu we have decided to focus on what Konyha’s inspirations have been so far in his life in regards to interiors and other areas of influence such as fashion, art, music and architecture.
Black Marble Duvet Set
FW13 Extension Collection, Drawn by Richard Haines
Where and what is your favourite bedroom?
I actually have to say mine right now, which is probably horribly vain, but primarily because I spend so much time here. It’s the one featured in the instant shots on the SAFE HOUSE site.
While we were apartment hunting last year, my boyfriend and I, really more as a joke, cast a spell to narrow down what we were looking for, and through curiously suspicious circumstance found it almost immediately and exactly. Call it luck, but if you’re looking for an apartment I say go with the spell, just in case.
What are some of your favourite sets from films?
Eiko Ishioka’s Closet Land and Mishima: a Life in Four Chapters
Eugenio Zanetti’s Flatliners
Scorsese’s After Hours
Stigmata, Production Design by Waldemar Kalinowski, Art Direction by Anthony Stabley, Set Decoration by Florence Fellman and Marco Niro. Patricia Arquette’s warehouse loft is an insane, over the top, one-hundred-percent-fictitious mix of 30s deco, industrial (musically and architecturally), yoga-cum-rave culture and inflatable furniture.
What is your favourite design movement?
Memphis, which is probably pretty obvious, especially Shiro Kuramata, though influences shift. Nostalgia cycles more rapidly. I might be less of a “movement” person, and more drawn to specific designers and visionaries; Tibor Kalman, Michel Graves, Terence Conran, Andrea Branzi, Joe Holtzman, Kelly Wearstler, William Morris, Ward Bennett, Gaetano Pesce, Billy Baldwin, Laurie Anderson.
I’m attracted to cohesion; to comprehensive themes and ideas; to extremes (simplicity can be it’s own extreme) followed to their logical conclusions. I try to stay open. What I find off-putting is typically what qualifies as “good taste.” There’s nothing compelling about good taste.
I think you have to be careful about what you allow in, about what you allow to influence you. It’s a constant, ongoing process of checking in with yourself creatively. Clearly I work with reference, with reappropriation and recontextualization, but I worry that we’ve outsourced our imaginations to an endless stream of reblogged, repinned content in an effort to easily aggregate, brand, and identify who we think we are, or who we dream we could be. My hope is that it’s entirely possible my favorite design movement has yet to happen.
What is your favourite art movement?
I’d be lazy and remiss to fall back on the past here. I love my friends and contemporaries, and New York is too full of preposterous talent right now not to list of them as many as I can:
Sam McKinniss, Ben Schumacher, Erica Bech, Colin Self, Alexis Penney, Landon Metz, Borna Sammak, Amos Mac, Alex De Corte, Kari Altmann, Richard Giglio,Richard Haines, Cody Critcheloe, Jaimie Warren, Travess Smalley, Boychild, Shayne Oliver, Desi Santiago, Scott Hug, BCALLA, Charlie Morris, Barrett Emke, Cyril Duval, Patrick Dyer, House of Ladosha, Juliana Huxtable.
I’m going to forget way too many names here and will absolutely regret it immediately.
Favourite movie from the 1980s?
Terrible and sublime at best, trashy and obvious at worst. This could probably be applied to my taste in almost everything. Anything John Carpenter, Adrian Lyne or Paul Schrader touched, unfortunately.
Favourite set/art direction from a music video?
Mark Romanek’s video for “Scream,” production design by Tom Foden, who also did Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories” and NIN’s ”Closer.” Flawless, untouchable song; flawless, untouchable visuals; still holds the title for the most expensive music video ever made.
Missy’s “She’s A Bitch.” Four years after the “Scream” video, it’s either an homage, the zeitgeist (I think zeitgeist moved slower in the late 90s), or just a straight lift (down to the opening, glossy-type’d shot), but what starts as typical Hype Williams (though w/ a gorgeous and atypical, monochromatic palette) fish-eye-in-a-box video becomes something completely alien and otherworldly around 1:50. Hype in top form, maybe his peak.
And again, Romanek’s video for Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.” A dead-on shot at Steven Meisel’s banned spots for Calvin Klein; unfinished, shag-carpeted and wood-paneled basement rec rooms, plus over-saturated, red-eyed, morning-after polaroid filters. I could live in this video. I may have tried?
I’m originally from Seattle, so the first building that comes to mind is St. Mark’s Cathedral, along with the adjacent rectory and (what once served as) the Cornish campus. Though some improvements were made in ’97 by Olson Sundberg, it was never entirely finished or built to the original specs from the late 20s and early ’30s, so the interior is very utilitarian and box-like in its incompleteness, more basilica than cathedral; no transept, no ribbed vaults or pendentives. I’ve got a soft spot for the underdog. And Episcopalians, maybe.
And Jesuits?. Steven Holl’s Chapel of St. Ignatius, also Seattle. The interior light is as much a part of the building as its materials, and shifts dramatically and beautifully throughout the day, designed around the schedule of Jesuit worship. It has a silence, both architecturally and literally, almost impossible to find in New York.
NYC’s modernist Church of the Nativity in the East Village, redone by Genovese & Maddalene in 1968. According to Wikipedia, it’s been described as ”starkly institutional” and “a modern architectural cartoon exhibiting a gross idea with no detail,” but I find something elegant and honest about it’s brutality.
More NYC: Julian Schnabel’s Palazzo Chupi; literally what is there not to love? Any building capable of outraging the West Village while avoiding both the leaking starchitecture of Frank Gehry and the cardboard-and-glass Monocle-approved hideousness of new money loft conversion gets tens across the board.
Louis Kahn’s Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban building. I think it’s the only structure that’s ever made me weep hysterically, and I’ve never actually been there.
More from past blog entires:
Favourite interiors in a restaurant or cafe?
This is a rough one, considering the Roman & Williams, Brooklyn-via-Portland, be-edison bulb’d faux rustica prison of the last decade. I’m at a point where the fluorescent, blobject-y Karim Rashid feels of Pink Berry, Rice to Riches interiors have started to feel welcoming, though I’m probably just be jumping the gun on early ‘00s nostalgia.
Since I don’t eat out much, and have totally succumbed to the sad cliche of rarely leaving Brooklyn, I’m going to fold this into nightlife and general mood, rather than strictly decor.
I miss The Beatrice, though technically she was a bar, and sadly, actual documentation is slim. It somehow managed a perfect balance of exclusivity and warmly welcoming once inside, offering both a simple, you-should-be-at-home-here elegance and nightly house party. To the best of my knowledge, that feeling has yet to be recreated. Certain spaces come imbued with a special kind of magic that needs only to be coaxed and tended to, something like what I imagine Michèle Lamy’s Les Deux Cafés felt like.
Output in Williamsburg is incredible, maybe as close to The Hacienda as I’ll get in my lifetime; unreal sound. Bossa Nova Civic Club is also brilliant, hidden away under the elevated train in Bushwick; perfect dance floor, consistently interesting booking, and I’ll always go weak for any amount of Don Loper, Martinique Banana Leaf wallpaper.
Passion Lounge; if you know, you know.
Favourite description of a room from literature?
I think I bond more with, or maybe the passages or novels that resonate with me the most, are ones where rooms themselves become characters, or where the lines between the human metaphorical interior and the interior of physical space are blurred; Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled; Sylvia Molloy’s Certificate of Absence; Emma Donoghue’s Room; Adam Lehner’s The Rearrangement; James Purdy’s Narrow Rooms.
If I have to actually choose a passage though, this is taken from “Examples of Confusion,” from Lydia Davis’ Almost No Memory:
“The ceiling is so high the light fades up under the peak of the roof. It takes a long time to walk through. Dust is everywhere, an even coating of blond dust; around every corner, a rolling table with a drawing board on it, a paper pinned to the board. Around the next corner, and the next, a painting on the wall, half finished, and before it, on the floor, cans of paint, brushes across the cans, and pails of soapy water colored red or blue. Not all the cans of paint are dusty. Not all parts of the floor are dusty.At first it seems clear that this place is not part of a dream, but a place one moves through in waking life. But rounding the last corner into the remotest part, where the dust lies thickest over the boxes of charcoal sticks from Paris, and a yellowed sheet of muslin over the window is torn symmetrically in two spots, showing a white sky through two small panes of dusty glass, a part of this place that seems to have been forgotten or abandoned, or at least lain undisturbed longer than the rest, one is not sure that this place is not a place in a dream, though whether it lies entirely in that dream or not is hard to say, and if only partly, how it lies at once in that dream and in this waking–whether one stands in this waking and looks through a doorway into that more dusty part, into that dream, or whether one walks from this waking around a corner into the part more thickly covered with dust, into the more filtered light of the dream, the light that comes in through the yellowed sheet.”
What has been your favourite set design for a catwalk?
This is the dream job; a marriage of clothes and physical space, of sound and music and light. Twelve minutes in which you have the opportunity to transport an audience completely.
Daniel Buren‘s work for Louis Vuitton SS13 is total alchemy; a perfect example of every element working together to create an experience so much larger than its individual parts, though the individual parts themselves remain stunning. The stark, two-color palette; the checkered white-and-yellow floor, referencing the collection, Vuitton’s “Damir” print and Buren’s previous body of work simultaneously; the pure spectacle and anticipation of the models descending via escalator onto the runway; Einstein on the Beach. I wish “gesamtkunstwerk” had an english counterpart that didn’t sound as ridiculous.
That said, AMO‘s work for Prada menswear AW13/14 sent me into a jealous, raging tailspin for like, days, literally pacing around my apartment screaming, gesticulating wildly at nothing like a crazy person, questioning my life, my choices, my purpose. If good art is contagious, maybe great art produces temporary insanity.
The pastel scheme of the set, punctuated with primaries, framing the gentle, almost neutral palette of the clothes, also offset by an electric turquoise piece here or a subtle, checkered coral shirt there; the collars styled half-tucked and askew; the shifting views from the projected “windows;” THE CAT! The show is a living editorial, the definition of an aspirational If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now. For me, the seamless integration and introduction of OMA’s line for Knoll via domestic tableaus is as much of the presentation as the actual clothing. I think AMO’s devotion to concept, research and detail are always evident, but they totally outdid themselves here.
If you want to get in further inside of Keehnan’s head, SAFE HOUSE USA also commission regular mixtapes; you can listen to them here
Visit the SAFE HOUSE USA website here to find out more about their interiors.
Walking Mural, 1972
Currently being exhibited at Nottingham Contemporary is the exciting new exhibition about Asco, a group of performance artists based in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.
Asco (1972–1987) began as a tight-knit core group of artists from East Los Angeles composed of Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón, and Patssi Valdez. Taking their name from the forceful Spanish word for disgust and nausea, Asco used performance, public art, and multimedia to respond to social and political turbulence in Los Angeles and beyond.
They emerged from the Chicano civil rights movement of the late 60s and early 70s, which fought labour exploitation, the Vietnam draft, police brutality, and other forms of discrimination and deprivation.
Their work had a low budget look reflecting their circumstances – Gronk called it aesthetics of poverty. In the 70s, a Chicano artist was expected to paint murals – the Chicano Movement borrowed from the Mexican political mural tradition of the early 20th century. While sharing the Movement’s opposition to racial discrimination, Asco were also determined to free themselves from the straightjacket of muralism. They sometimes did this by parodying it. Examples of this include the pieces Walking Mural and Instant Mural which were outrageous street performances rather than paintings on walls.
Asco’s performances in and around East LA resembled scenes from movies that were never made – or fashion shoots, or promotional images of rock bands. They called some of these No Movies. Made in the shadow of Hollywood, yet in a community ghettoised from the wider metropolis, Harry Gamboa Jr’s photographs of Asco’s performances anticipate the staged photography of Cindy Sherman, Jeff Walls and other major figures in postmodern art working with photography. The imagery they used was linked to fantasy and fiction, Asco retained a dangerous political edge. Their actions were made without notice or permission in a public sphere fraught with political tension and police curfews. Some were made at sites where a violent incident had taken place the previous day – the site of a gang conflict or the fatal shooting of demonstrators by the Los Angeles Police Department.
This exhibition builds on Asco’s acclaimed retrospective, Elite of the Obscure, at Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Williams College Museum of Art in 2011-12, curated by Rita Gonzalez and Ondine Chavoya. It will later travel to de Appel in Amsterdam and CAPC in Bordeaux.
The exhibition will run until the 5th of January. Find out more here
Regeneración 2, no. 4, 1974 – 75, p.31, drawing by Patssi Valdez. Courtesy of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library
A fascinating two day symposium to accompany the exhibition discussing the meaning of disgust across a range of practices, including art, literature, film and popular culture, activism, spatial practice and performance, from the twentieth century to the present day took place in November which can be watched on Youtube below. Taking part in the exhibition included Sang Bleu 6 contributor Dominic Johnson, Elizabeth Boa; Wayne Burrows; C. Ondine Chavoya; Harriet Curtis; Kirsten Forkert; Craig Fisher; Andrés David Montenegro Rosero; Marie Thompson and Myfanwyn Ryan.
Theo Costantinou of Paradigm magazine has specially created these images from his recent trip to Cuba for Sang Bleu.
The primary intention regarding Cuba was to interview American born artist John Dominguez for the printed version of Paradigm set to release early 2014. To him Cuba was no mystery, it was in his blood, but my only knowledge of the island had been pop-culture icons like Chano Pozo, El Duque, the Bay of Pigs and Che Guevara. Then I read Listen, Yankee by C. Wright Mills which gave my superficial lens to a much different outlook to what Cuba meant from the revolutionary mind and the realities of life for those citizens after January 1, 1959. These photographs speak to that pop-culture ignorance and the effect of post-revolutionary ‘intelligentsia.’ This was the Cuba I saw; untouched by western racketeering, controlled still by ‘the man whose name is not spoken’ and the inherent fact that revolutionaries, peasants, blacks, whites, children, and politicians are ALL human.
Sunday the 27th of October would have been the 73rd birthday of Julius Eastman the ‘forgotten’ minimalist composer. In the midst of Lou Reed’s passing its occurred to me that I often find it just as sad (if not sadder) when artists die before receiving the appraisal that they deserve and Eastman to me certainly fits into that category.
Living and working in New York Eastman is thought of as one of the first composers to attach notions of popular music with classical composition. Presenting his music at the likes of Arthur Russell’s iconic performance space The Kitchen in the 70s he titled his extensive pieces names such as ‘Gay Guerrilla‘ and ‘Evil Nigger‘ sprouting political agenda into the conservatism of the classical world. Known on the circuit in New York he often played with the likes of John Cage and Meredith Monk but never did his own individual work escalate to a higher level. Much like how Arthur Russell’s music has been ‘rediscovered’ over the last decade so has Eastman’s but his decision to never venture too far into the diversity of disco seven inches and acoustic love songs like how Russell did has made it harder to trace his music.
Existing in the classical structure meant that having your compositions performed was a strenuously long process therefore its quite incredible that Eastman’s work still exists today. Even more so in context to the end of his life; contemporaries of Eastman have confirmed that circumstances largely out of his control contributed to his obscurity especially the tragedy of his own unexplained death. The last ten years of his own life spiralled out of control and ended with him living in Thompson Park Square losing most of his possessions (and his music) and finally dying alone at the age of 49 in 1990 in Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo of cardiac arrest. What does exist of his music is completely sublime, however the question over why his work is not as well known rises over his own identity as a homosexual African American, a tough place for any young man to be at the time but especially so in the stifling world of classical music. It is so sad that there was no one to nurture Eastman in the way that he deserved; no one to archive his talent so it could be more in the open now and that he has remained so anonymous and unappreciated for so long.
One of my favorite activities when visiting a city is spending time meandering through stacks of books at used book stores. The feeling of reward one gets whens stumbling upon a book you have been looking for, or perhaps one you never knew of, makes the time spent well worth it. The latter was the case when I came upon Douglas Kent Hall’s 1997 book of black and white photographs entitled Prison Tattoos at a small book shop in Toronto. The book features an introduction by Richard Stratton, Editor of Prison Life magazine, who suggests that the tattoos depicted in Hall’s photographs are “visual declarations of emotional pain and sentiment.” Hall also provides a short essay contextualizing his relationship to prison tattoos and the men (and in some cases, women) who wear them, saying “If on one level prison tattoos serve as a simple surface tableau, an exhibitionist’s display calculated to shock and disgust, on a deeper level they revel something more significant, a key to the psyche of the individual who owns them.” The book offers an intimate depiction of American prison life while simultaneously depicting the aesthetic and iconography of prison tattoos. Although not taken by an institutional authority, many of the photos in Prison Tattoos are strikingly similar to photos of tattooed criminals taken by French authorities in the 19th century, depicted in books such as Mauvais Garcon: Portaits de tatoues. For those wishing to acquire their own prison tattoo (without spending time in prison), the book also includes five temporary transfer tattoos to satisfy your suppressed criminal tendencies should you find a copy with the “tattoos” still attached.
A late reminder to say that the incredibly exciting looking exhibition Tattoo: Flash Art of Amund Dietzel closes next week on the 13th of October at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Dietzel can only be referred to in legendary terms for his expansive influence on tattooing. His beautifully refined flash paintings are having some what of a renaissance with contemporary traditional tattooers who are currently reapplying his iconic and sometimes bizarre flash paintings on to new skin.
Celebrating 100 years since Dietzel’s arrival in Milwaukee, where at twenty three years old as a Norwegian merchant shipper he opened his first shop surpassing time and inlaying the skin of residents of the city through two world wars and up until 1963.
It is interesting that a museum as seemingly traditional as Milwaukee’s has taken time and effort to dedicate an exhibition to a tattoo artist.Dietzel is considered the king of the Americana style so choosing him seems like no place to go wrong. Usually exhibitions about body modifications are focused through themes or subjects and study the cultures of tattoo practice on an ethnographic level. Curating a show meant for the public about one individual tattooer shows us just how popular tattooing has become.
Tattooing was banned in Milwaukee from 1967 until 1998 and the exhibition has been curated in conjunction with Harley Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration in the city. So in essence this exhibition has been made for the thousands of motorbike fanatics who will have transcended the city for that event. The museum has stated that it is the first ever tattoo related exhibition that they have staged, perhaps the notion that they have catered for an audience who they automatically expect would be drawn to tattooing reinforces two obvious stereotypes which don’t progress the attitudes of either culture. Hopefully the exhibition has been visited by a large variety of people and introduced new eyes and opinoins to the beautiful naivety of Dietzel’s paintings and his historical importance as a very vital American folk artist rather than being shrouded in the kitsch essence that so many tattoo related events pull in from both the fans and rejectors or tattoo culture.
Try and catch this exhibition before it ends and visit the Milwaukee Art Museum website here
These completely surreal images were created by request for the inmates of Tamms Correctional Center in Illinois, a detention centre which was designed to leave prisoners in complete isolation. Originally meant to leave inmates in the centre for one year due to disruptive behaviour, many were left there indefinitely which caused much outcry from protesters against these inhumane conditions.
Existing in concrete rooms measuring 7x12ft for 23 hours a day for months, years or even decades would surely have a profound effect on the prisoners mental health especially as many were already on death row. The restriction of almost all human contact and so much sensory and visual stimulation has led to the creation of these images by a collective of protesters against super max prisons. The images requested varied from photographs of themselves superimposed onto various landscapes, Jennifer Lopez’s backside, their old neighbourhoods and to completely imagined scenarios.
The Tamms Correctional Centre was finally closed on the 4th of January 2013.
You can read an interview with Laurie Jo Reynolds on the Huffington post here, one of the leading artists involved with the project named Photo Requests from Solitary . An exhibition of these photographs will also be on view at Photoville until September 29, located at Pier Five in Brooklyn Bridge Park.