Watch your back, Art Basel Miami. If last night's Vernissage (the fancy art show term for Opening Night Party) was any indication, the venerable art fair's little sister, Design/Miami, shows sign of upstaging her illustrious forbear.
The entire Design District, here in Miami, was a rollicking party -- with a distinctly younger, hipper demographic than was sipping champagne over at the Art Basel show at the Convention
Center -- tossing back Prosecco at the Moore Building to welcome in the year's hottest design show.'There were girls in dresses made of clothespins. Girls in dresses made of vinyl. Girls in dresses designed mostly to show off their thongs. This is Miami, after all, not stuffy Switzerland.
And plenty of the design world's biggest names, or hottest up-and-comers, were in the house. Design/Miami founder Ambra Medda and her partner, Design District developer Craig Robins, roamed the show, surveying what they created and found it good -- although by 10pm, Medda, like many of the women in the crowd, had slipped off her hip red heels to spare her aching dogs.
Murray Moss precided over a wryly appropriate show called "Robber Barons," in which the Dutch design shop, Studio Job, envisioned what a robber baron - or hedge fund manager -- might commission as furnishings for his own home. Solid gold table, Mr. Schwartzman? He also had an array of cool pieces from five international designers -- ranging from Maarten Baas to Tom Dixon to Arik Levy -- in a show called Heavy Metal.
David Adjaye, the young Brit making waves with his housing in London, and Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, was manically meeting and greeting well wishers in his own space. Rumor has it that he'll soon open a shop in New York, sharing space with buddy Yves Behar.
The usual suspects from the galleries were there -- led by the newest entrant, Marc Benda of Friedman Benda, who had prime space to show a range of hip new designers.
In the center of the action, automotive sculptor Jedan Kikus, sculpted a clay Audi, just as he might in his studio, in keeping with this year's theme of performance art. A snazzy bronze Audi Cabriolet showed viewers what the outcome might look like in a year or two.
Mostly the crowd seemed more interested in checking out each other than the tony wares on display. They formed a steady procession, up and down the staircase that flanked the Moore Building's atrium, like some hallucinatory Easter Parade.
But even the most jaded iPhone chatting, gladiator sandal-wearing, fur-vested, tattooed hipsters were stopped dead in their tracks when they got to the fourth floor, where Designer of the Year, Tokujin Yoshioka , had his extraordinary work on display. Set in a vast sea of soda straws, heaps of them, like giant piles of hay, Yoshioka had placed a series of precious objects.
Yoshioka's skill is in transforming ordinary materials like plastic and glass into stunningly beautiful objects. His series of benches, called "Chairs that Disappear in the Rain" were made of a glass that was produced in a rare platinum mold. Their rippled surfaces looked rain-swept, even when dry. But the most fun was to look at them from the side, where their cross section gave you a clear view to the other side,
like looking through a wavy mirrored tunnel. People couldn't stop touching, despite the sign begging them not to.
Yoshioka, who speaks little English, stood by quietly watching, politely responding to those who recognized him, through his interpreter.