November 13, 2014

We sat down with ceramist Ian McDonald after his curated show at Totokaelo to better understand the daily life and work of contemporary artists.

TK — Why ceramics? When did that love affair begin?

IM — I started working in ceramics when I was pretty young, around 18 or so, and I worked as an apprentice to potters where I grew up. I was drawn to ceramics then from a general urge to make things and mostly from the point of view of a functional potter. I was gifted a potters wheel around that same time, and put it in my moms garage where I basically made cylinders and simple forms that I cut up and assembled in the patio. I was less apt to finish work then as I really just liked the work of it all and the searching for form. I sometimes think not much has changed.

TK — What glaze are you loving now?

IM — I don’t know if I’m loving any one glaze now, but I have been working with multiple light layers of glaze recently in order to get more depth in the surface without relying on too much glaze or refiring in order to get a rich surface. I have also been thinking a lot about how the clay behind the glaze affects the surface and glaze, so I have been working with different clays for different pieces.

TK — What’s your favorite piece in the show?

IM — That’s also difficult to answer in particular because I see most of my work in combination with others. In order to be efficient, ceramics to me is a kind of numbers game, where you make many pieces at the same time and in turn get results in bunches. I have been working more with the discrete object recently, but even those are made from multiple parts and a basic vocabulary of shared units around the studio. I’m happy with the extruded pieces as this is something I have been working through for years now, but was never satisfied enough to show them.

TK — Can you tell me something new you learned during the process of preparing for this show?

IM — I learned some technical things this time mostly in terms of joining clay with a slip recipe I had never used. The extruded and stacked pieces have created some pretty serious cracking problems due to too much tension between glaze and clay. Although this sounds like serious shop talk, these technical strategies can in some way take you to places conceptually.

TK — What’s it like being Ian McDonald?

IM — That’s a crazy question! I’m busy with the basics. Whispering in my one year old daughters ear about clouds and her Mom. Cleaning leaves and pine needles around the house.

View the collection, now online exclusively at Totokaelo

  • Pop-up event — Ian McDonald
  • Pop-up event — Ian McDonald
  • Pop-up event — Ian McDonald

Pop-up event — Ian McDonald

October 27, 2014

Ceramist Ian McDonald is presenting forty five new works this Saturday at Totokaelo. Ian will be available from noon to 7pm to answer questions and tell you his story.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer and Totokaelo have collaborated on another flavor. This one is boozy and and called the TK Mule. We’re launching in connection with Ian’s opening. Please join us from 5 to 8 pm and give it a whirl. It’s on us.

Shop Art—Object here

  • Phillip Low
  • Phillip Low
  • Phillip Low

Phillip Low

October 24, 2014

Beautiful from all angles — we just can’t stop staring at these new Phillip Low prism sculptures.

See all exclusive pieces on our Phillip Low page.

  • Totokaelo x Rachel's Ginger Beer

Totokaelo x Rachel's Ginger Beer

July 11, 2014


Totokaelo x Rachel’s Ginger Beer = an exclusive flavor only available in store at Totokaelo.

Thanks Camp Doug for the bottle design!

Celebrate Independence

July 03, 2014

Totokaelo celebrates independence by recognizing a few of our favorite independent thinkers. We’ve paired them with fashion that mirrors their influence.

YAYOI KUSAMA — the artistic polymath

The multimedia artist widely known as the “Queen of Polka Dots” never left home without them.

1. Hakusan by Mori Dotted Relief Pattern Mug

2. Hope Dot Scarf

3. Pierre Hardy Polka Dot High Top

4. Comme des Garcons Polka Dots Printed Wallet

5. Issey Miyake Dotted Pleather Pants

DAVID BOWIE — the chameleon rocker

Whether we’re talking about Hunky Dory, Ziggy, or dapper Bowie, these pieces all fall in line with the artist’s many fashion phases.

1. Acne Gibson Clean Jacket

2. Haider Ackermann Reversible Bomber

3. Dries Van Noten Block Floral Blazer

4. Rachel Comey Silver Solitaire Heel

5. Maison Martin Margiela Heel Replica Boot

PINA BAUSCH — the theatrical dancer

As a pioneer of modern experimental dance, Bausch’s style was consistent —drapey blacks, whites and Yohji Yamamoto.

1. Zero and Maria Cornejo Long Hara Dress

2. Rachel Comey Paloma Dress

3. Tienda Ho 11 Top

4. Rick Owens Lilies Short Sleeve Dress

5. Rick Owens D RK SH D W Rib Tank Dress

Images taken from a press release of Kusama’s 1964 “Driving Image” exhibition, a still from an appearance by Bowie on The Cher Show in 1975, and a photograph capturing a moment from Bausch’s performance of “Café Muller”.

  • Totokaelo End of Season Sale Now in Progress

Totokaelo End of Season Sale Now in Progress

June 09, 2014

The Totokaelo End of Season SALE is now in progress online and in-store.

Follow these links to shop the SALE at Totokaelo and Totokaelo MAN

Store Hours:

Monday to Thursday, 11AM to 6PM
Friday and Saturday, 11AM to 7PM
Sunday, 11AM to 5PM

A Peek at Totokaelo Headquarters

May 16, 2014

A tour of the new Totokaelo office space is now up on Remodelista. In the article, founder Jill Wenger shares the story behind the space as well as her creative vision for the office interiors.

“The [Totokaelo] storefront and newly established office space…were conceptualized and executed by Jill herself. During the first ten years of business, everyone worked out of the stockrooms in the back of the original Totokaelo store. ‘Anywhere there was space, someone claimed it and tossed their laptop down,’ Jill recalls. As work conversation—and concentration—proved increasingly difficult, Jill began to look into acquiring a dedicated office space, a decision, she says that was ‘less about brand evolution and more about gaining much-needed thinking space.’” — Alexa Holtz via Remodelista

A special thanks to Michael A Muller for the beautiful photos.

  • Camille Henrot at the New Museum
  • Camille Henrot at the New Museum
  • Camille Henrot at the New Museum

Camille Henrot at the New Museum

May 08, 2014

French artist Camille Henrot’s first comprehensive exhibition in the US entitled “The Restless Earth” debuts this week at the New Museum in New York City. The exhibition is a collection of Henrot’s recent works, including visual translations of books from the artist’s personal library in the form of ikebana arrangements, a collection of recent video art, ‘hybrid object’ sculptures, and more.

“We hurry through aeons. Things evolve, the world gets complicated. Art and culture, science and starvation, extinction and global warming are all here. First we had drawings, then we had books, and then we had the internet. First came the artists then the scholars, the anthropologists and then the geeks. Henrot seems to submit to no boundaries between art and scholarship, or between one specialisation and another.” — Adrian Searle via The Guardian

“The Restless Earth” runs through June 29th.

— Allison

Nadine Nakanishi and Nick Butcher

May 07, 2014

These inventive screen printed, handwoven ‘textile paintings’ by artist duo Nadine Nakanishi and Nick Butcher are easily my inspiration of the day.

Images found on BOOOOOOOM

— Allison

In Space

May 05, 2014

Aspirational minimalism via Design Sponge.

— Allison

"Taster's Choice" at MoMA PS1

May 05, 2014

“Taster’s Choice” is a group show currently on display at MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York. The exhibition focuses on the concept of ‘choice’ or ‘selection’ and it’s particular importance within each participating artist’s creative process.

“Taster’s Choice highlights three emerging artists and one artist collective who regard choice as both the process and content of their work. They recognize what specific materials can convey: the intentionally neutral effect of brown industrial carpeting, or the aspirational nature of stainless-steel kitchen appliances. Juxtaposing materials and images, and filtering them for specific themes, the artists allude to emotional connections between individuals and objects, amplifying, distorting, and confusing the meanings that their choices suggest.” — MoMA PS1 press release

Images found on MOUSSE

— Allison

Paris Photo Los Angeles

April 24, 2014

The highly acclaimed American version of Paris Photo art fair takes place this weekend, April 25-27, at the iconic Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles.

“Paris Photo Los Angeles, the US edition of the world’s most celebrated art fair for works created in the photographic medium, will take place at Paramount Pictures Studios April 25th-27th offering the ideal setting to explore how artists have been and are using photography and moving image in their work in the 20th and 21st centuries. Leading international galleries will present historical and contemporary bodies of works by renowned and emerging artists in the legendary Paramount Pictures’ soundstages. The New York Street Backlot, the one-of-a-kind replica of New York City’s streets, will be dedicated to the presentation of cutting-edge solo shows, Young Gallery exhibitions, and bookseller projects, each exhibiting within an exclusive movie set.” — Paris Photo

— Allison

Strauss Bourque-LaFrance

April 22, 2014

Strauss Bourque-LaFrance is an New York based artist whose work traces elements of the everyday, reframing familiar objects in order to put philosophical weight on the implications of their presence in our lives. His work also tends to be inextricably linked with literature in a rather Duchampian way; the titles of Bourque-LaFrance’s installations are often a large indicator as to the meaning of the piece, at times even working as a punchline.

“Bourque-LaFrance’s constructions, by comparison, stress the parsing of the awkward double, the hidden life of things, and by extension, closet desire and memory.” — Wendy Vogel via Modern Painters Magazine

— Allison

Franz Erhard Walther at Wiels Centre d'Art Contemporain

April 21, 2014

The new retrospective for artist Franz Erhard Walther at WIELS in Brussels, Belgium entitled The Body Decides is a brilliant and colorful breadth of Walther’s expert sketches, textile-based performance pieces, and artistic experiments from the past and present.

"Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Decides offers an in-depth look at an influential German artist whose pioneering work straddles minimalist sculpture, conceptual art, abstract painting, and performance all while positing fundamental questions about the conventional idea of the artwork as an immutable, obdurate pedestal- or wall- bound thing…The show at WIELS, the first for the artist in Belgium and one of the larger of his solo exhibitions to date, will underscore the essential tension provoked by Walther’s work and the ways it thinks about what an artwork can do, or what can be done with it as opposed to how merely it appears or what it is. " — WIELS press release

‘Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Decides’ runs through May 11th, 2014.

— Allison

  • Nate Lowman at Maccarone Gallery
  • Nate Lowman at Maccarone Gallery
  • Nate Lowman at Maccarone Gallery

Nate Lowman at Maccarone Gallery

April 16, 2014

American artist Nate Lowman steers away from pop culture subject matter to explore the abstraction of symbols in nature for his show Rave the Painforest at Maccarone Gallery in New York.

“A flower. A leaf. A rock. A stem. A heart. A shape. A stain. A drip. A memory. A State. An egg in a pan. Lowman presents new works that embark on a significant departure from his previous icons. In lieu of meditations on pop culture and political instants… Lowman’s works here conjure states of memory, modeled on the soft edges of the hand-drawn. Eliminating the reliance on the readymade, Lowman utilizes nature as a lens of fragmented recollection after years of urban experience to explore the fragile ecology of the mind.” — Maccarone Press Release

Rave the Painforest runs through May 10th.

— Allison


April 15, 2014

Where They Create’s tour through designer Shabd’s home reveals a space fully expressive of the designer’s wabi-sabi aesthetic.

Follow these links to shop our collection of Shabd at Totokaelo and Totokaelo Art Object

— Allison

In Space

April 14, 2014

Artist Hanna Eshel’s New York home and studio takes on a beautiful muted grey color palette, and the space is adorned very simply by her own subdued sculptures and untamed houseplants — take inspiration from the minimal yet lively nature of this space.

— Allison

A Conversation With Alma Allen

April 14, 2014

In a recent and rare interview with Alma Allen for T Magazine, the Joshua Tree based artist shares several fascinating stories about his life and upbringing; these stories come together to further explain Allen’s remarkably quiet rise to success in the art world. The article also includes photos of Alma Allen’s home and studio, all of which he designed and built himself in Joshua Tree.

“Alma Allen sees his life as having been defined by a series of risks. His sprawling desert compound in Joshua Tree, Calif., where the 43-year-old self-taught artist creates sculptures fashioned of marble, wood and bronze, is evidence that those risks have started to yield great rewards…His cultish followers often show up in person, buying pieces out of Allen’s living room, because, until recently, he was not even represented by a gallery, and had, with few exceptions, never even formally exhibited his work. ‘My sculpture has always existed in private,’ Allen says, ‘because it didn’t really fit into any category. My carving was very small, from stone fragments or salvaged wood. It was very rough and primitive. I was self-taught. It wasn’t really outsider art because that is really the art of the insane. I sort of defied categories, and now I am a little nervous about ceasing to be a ‘private’ artist, because I have never even been criticized or reviewed.’” — Matt Tyrnauer via T Magazine

Follow this link to view our selection of works by Alma Allen

— Allison

Light and Airy

April 10, 2014

The incoming of new pieces from brands like Black Crane and Cosmic Wonder Light Source has got me thinking about flowing silhouettes, bright whites, and warm weather.

Images gathered from Iko Iko, Tumblr, and Remodelista

— Allison

Salone del Mobile

April 09, 2014

In a recent article for T Magazine, Sight Unseen’s Monica Khemsurov covers the Salone Del Mobile design fair in Milan. Highlights in the Salone include camouflaged terrazzo pieces by furniture brand Dzek and experimental furniture designer Max Lamb as well as organically shaped fiberglass furniture designed by Faye Toogood.

Faye Toogood on the inspiration behind her new furniture line, Assemblage 4: Roly-Poly,

“A major departure from the colorful geometric aesthetic Toogood is known for, the furniture series was inspired by the changes in her body and her priorities after her first child was born a year and a half ago. ‘Something just happened in terms of the way I view shapes and colors,’ she says. ‘My daughter can’t be around sharp edges, for one, but there’s also a playful element at work. The chair almost looks like an elephant, the daybed like a pregnant lady and her bump.’ Toogood says she even sculpted many of the models for the collection using another throwback material: Play-Doh.”

— Allison

Molly Smith

April 08, 2014

Molly Smith is a contemporary artist whose work is directly inspired by natural materials like rocks, hurricane salvage, and tornado debris. Due to her interest in using found materials, the direction of the works are informed as much by the state of the objects when found in nature as they are by the artist’s own imagination — the result is a varied body of work with a quiet poetic wisdom.

“Smith doesn’t begin and end her practice with her own hand; instead she extends it to the realm of the elements.” — Artforum

— Allison

Katy Krantz

April 07, 2014

The home of artist Katy Krantz, filled with many examples of her colorful ceramics and prints, is now featured on Sight Unseen.

“Katy Krantz likes to leave things to chance, at least when it comes to making ceramics…that element of surprise and transformation runs through her colorful, abstract sculptural objects and jewelry, as well as her block prints and recent forays into fabric. Though she’ll establish ‘loose parameters’ at the outset of a project, she says she’s ‘never been able to work with a real detailed plan in mind. I can work like that, but I tend to make really boring work that way. When I have too much control, it’s less interesting.’” — Deborah Shapiro via Sight Unseen.

Follow this link to shop our collection of works by Katy Krantz

Selected Works by Laurie Kang

April 04, 2014

Laurie Kang is a photographer and sculptor who works with simple mediums to form delicate and introspective sculptures. Chromogenic paper and archival linen tape are subtly manipulated, alluding to perspective and probability.

“Drawing from her female narrative, she uses sensitive materials to mine embedded social hierarchies and structures of power. Recent exhibition and project sites include The Power Plant, Erin Stump Projects, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Gallery 44, Art Metropole (all Toronto), Soi Fischer, Gallery 295 (both Vancouver), Jen Bekman Gallery (New York), and the launch of the book publication 33 Circles and launch with Mossless at the New York Art Book Fair. Her work was also selected for inclusion in The Magenta Foundation’s 2013 Flash Forward publication and exhibitions. Upcoming exhibitions include Camera Austria (Graz) and Les Territoires (Montreal). She is an MFA candidate at Bard College.” —Magenta


The Home of Ashley Helvey

April 04, 2014

A wonderful interview with Totokaelo Editorial Creative Director Ashley Helvey debuts today on Sight Unseen. The interview, conducted by Su Wu of I’m Revolting, features a tour of her home as well as a look into her recent solo art exhibit entitled #IRL, a reflection on art in the Tumblr age.

At this point, simplicity can seem like a tired mantra or an admonishment, an extra layer of guilt heaped over our misdirections. Isn’t it enough that our cluttered thoughts keep us up at night? Do we have to feel bad about it, too? So it’s especially heartening that for Seattle-based stylist Ashley Helvey, simplicity is something else entirely: a look so easy that it serves as encouragement. ‘A lot of the imagery I’m inspired by online is just a piece of fabric or a cinderblock,’ says Helvey, who is editorial creative director for Totokaelo, overseeing everything from photo shoots to social media. ‘They are really simple things that you could actually execute. Having a simple aesthetic is actually pretty tangible.’" — Su Wu via Sight Unseen

Photos by Michael A. Muller

— Allison

Camille Henrot at Chisenhale Gallery

April 03, 2014

French artist Camille Henrot’s new exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery in London is entitled ‘The Pale Fox’. The show is one of beautifully organized chaos, merging together amorphous shapes with seemingly random images — these elements all come together to form a surreal visual simulation of the disorderly nature of creative processes.

“The Pale Fox articulates our desire to make sense of the world through the objects that surround us. Unfolding like a frieze across the four walls of the gallery, a polymorphous aluminium shelf provides a structure wherein the four points of the compass are aligned with stages in an individual lifecycle, the evolution of technology, philosophical principles of Leibniz and the four Classical elements: fire, water, earth and air. This highly personalised aggregation of distinct systems of thought is presented through an intense accumulation of objects and images encountered within a highly constructed, meditative environment.” — Chisenhale Gallery

‘The Pale Fox’ runs through April 13 at Chisenhale Gallery.

— Allison

Still Lifes by Charlie Schuck

April 02, 2014

Totokaelo friend and collaborator Charlie Schuck recently shot a series of photographic still lifes for Sight Unseen. The series of photos profile a handful of talented Seattle creatives including Totokaelo Editorial Creative Director Ashley Helvey, Iacoli & McAllister, as well as Schuck himself.

On the idea behind the series,

“When we approached [Charlie] about doing a story on his own work, he came back with the idea to do a photo essay on everyone else’s: ‘A still life series of personal items that speak to the influences of Seattle creatives,’ he says. ‘Objects from those who produce objects. I asked the following eight designers to not think too much about it, but grab whatever seemed relevant at the time. Why do we keep certain objects and let others go? How do the objects we keep affect our design process and personal rituals?’” — Monica Khemsurov via Sight Unseen

— Allison

The Home of Iacoli & McAllister

April 01, 2014

Sight Unseen continues its coverage of Seattle’s best with a tour of the home of Jamie Iacoli and Brian McAllister (otherwise known as Iacoli & McAllister). The design duo’s home features some of their own designs as well as works from Totokaelo friends Serrah Russell, Mociun, and CM Ruiz!

Follow this link to shop our collection of Iacoli & McAllister

— Allison

Jill Wenger's Pied-à-Terre

March 31, 2014

Totokaelo founder Jill Wenger’s beautiful Seattle pied-à-terre is now featured on Sight Unseen. In the supplementary interview, Jill shares stories behind certain treasures, discusses artists she highly admires, and explains her less is more philosophy on life.

“From Morgan Peck ceramics to Margiela booties, the pieces [Jill Wenger] selects for Totokaelo, she says, ‘are the ones that are the most beautiful to me — I love the design, color, material, and I think they’re unique and pure. By pure, I mean that they weren’t created because an artist tried to make something that other people would find beautiful or that would sell. They were created because the artist had an idea and made it real because they felt it should exist.’ Yet these objects rarely come home with her. ‘I don’t own a ton of things,’ she says. ‘I pick stuff up when I travel, some objects are from friends, and others I’ve brought home from the store, but I’m not super sentimental about them. The process of discovering an artist and bringing them to Totokaelo is more satisfying to me than something living on my shelf. The more I own, the less free I feel.’” — Monica Khemsurov via Sight Unseen

Landon Metz at Retrospective Gallery

March 28, 2014

Retrospective Gallery hosts a new exhibition of works by artist Landon Metz entitled ‘Michael Jackson Penthouse’. The works included in this exhibit explore the idea of repetition and seriality, and the show is fittingly located in a common Brooklyn row house.

Landon Metz on his inspiration behind the series,

“A few years ago I was in the elevator of a loft building somewhere on the west side with some people and we took it to the penthouse by accident and the doors opened to this giant apartment filled with nothing but the same painting of Michael Jackson over and over and over again.”

‘Michael Jackson Penthouse’ runs through April 13th.

— Allison