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Scene Report: Art Basel Miami 2008

I guess it takes getting out of New York, and a reprieve from constantly watching CNBC to make you realize that not all the world is fixated on the Dow.

Miami, of course, is one of the centers of the subprime mayhem, but last night, at the opening of Design/Miami 2008, revelers were partying like it was 1929.

At the opening vernissage, for the event’s toniest collectors and design groupies, women in fur stoles and python pants stolled among Humberto and Fernando Campana’s wacky chairs, sipping champagne compliments of the event’s sponsors, Audi and HSBC – a car company and a bank that evidently are flush enough to still underwrite such posh events without inciting shareholder rebellion.

The Campana brothers, the hottest thing to come out of Brazil since Gisele Bundchen, are famous for their chairs made of teddy bears, flip flops and old tires. They are this year’s Designers of the Year.

Ambra Medda, Design/Miami’s founder, said this year’s event was more organized and “civilized” than past year’s, in part due to its new location in a temporary structure in the design district and partly because of longer hours. But mostly, she told us, it’s because the event has matured, learned from past years’ glitches, and hired enough staff to stage the thing properly. Asked if she was ready now to branch out to other regions, she sighed. “I’m thinking how nice it would be to take up knitting.” Maybe the glam life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be after all.

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