Design Miami: Tattoos on the Wrong Side of the Tracks

Location, as any real estate broker worth her Blackberry will tell you, is everything. So, too, at Design Miami, where one of the show's most interesting exhibits languished for want of a better address.

"Nobody can find us!" wailed Tobias Wong, design world wunderkind, and one of the organizers of "As Long as it Lasts," a pop-up tattoo parlor whose limited edition designs were created by some of the industry's hottest talents, including Tord Boontje, Yves Behar, and Lawrence Weiner.

By 4pm on Saturday, the team -- comprised of Wong, design writer and Fast Company contributor Aric Chen, and design curator Josee LePage -- and a certified tattoo artist, had done only six tattoos. TattooRZ.jpgA lone Dutchman loitered in the exhibit's seating area waiting for a pattern of magnetic field lines by Brooklyn architect Vito Acconci, which had been crafted around his freckle pattern, to be resized.

The problem, Wong says, is that the space designated for the "design performances," Design/Miami's big 2007 theme, was hardly prime real estate. Centered in "the Loft," a chunky white concrete building, the performances were blocks from the center of the Design District's action, at the far end of a desolate stretch of street, under a highway overpass.

"There's no street traffic," Wong lamented. "We were told this was great space, close to the center of the action." Indeed, beyond a tiny map in the show's program, there was no way to know where the performances were taking place. No signage. No staffers offering directions.

The only tattoos on display were on a quartet of self-styled street artists, whose paintings of saucer-eyed children and beaded Elvises, and their souped up hot rod, hotrodsRZ.jpg
formed a gauntlet that had to be crossed before getting to the more rarified precincts of the show.

On a final, happier note, Chen tells us that the cartoon-style artist KAWS came by the Loft with rapper Pharrell Williams in tow, and Williams was so impressed with the project that he told the trio that he'd like to design a tattoo for them in the future. "Perhaps tattoo-designing among hip-hop types is the new equivalent of launching a fashion label!" Chen says.

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2 Comments

  • Demond Jackson

    Personally, I like tattoos. However I did not know just how popular they were. Next thing you know they'll have a tattoo design course in college.

  • Joseph Allan

    Personally, I like tattoos. However I did not know just how popular they were. Next thing you know they'll have a tattoo design course in college.