Glitzy packaging and top-shelf sponsors aside, Design Miami remains a cherry on the international design circuit: A nice topper to the year,
but no substantial meal. But that should be of no surprise, as since
its founding five years ago by property developer Craig Robins, the
fair has been about cultivating moneyed collectors, not breaking new
work. These commercial underpinnings were apparent Dec. 1 to 5 at the
fair’s latest installment. As with parallel event Art Basel Miami
Beach, the preference was for the tried and tested. Big-name pieces
commissioned by Design Miami partners Audi, HSBC, Fendi, and Swarovski
dominated the show, upstaging–and perhaps even atoning for–the sparse
number of exhibitors and satellite events. But there were bright
moments amid the fray, the best of which are detailed below.
As part of its world launch of the A8 luxury sedan, Audi commissioned
British designer Tom Dixon to create a product that reflected the
values and materials of the car. The resulting Light Light
pendants–featured in Audi’s Art of Progress installation, which also
included art selections from the Rubell Family Collection–drew upon
the A8’s aluminum frame and its all-LED headlights.
Although only 31 years old, Dutchman Maarten Baas is fast approaching
superstar status, having designed collections for Established & Sons
and Moooi; held solo shows at Galleria Rosanna Orlandi in Milan and
Moss in New York (which also represents him); and completed
commissions from uber-agent Michael Ovitz and actor Brad Pitt. As the
2009 Designer of the Year, Baas created the Shell, an armoire with a
roughly welded steel exterior and refined walnut veneer interior. Here
he stands before it, explaining that both cartoons and spaceships
inspired its shape.
The exception to this year’s rule, the London-based Gallery Libby
Sellers continued to take chances on lesser-known talent. For Tidal
Ossary, designers Julia Lohmann and Gero Grundmann fashioned delicate
vases from 19th century animal bones the pair found along the shores
of the Thames.
For Swarovski Crystal Palace, architect Greg Lynn assembled a series
of overlapping carbon- and aramid-fiber sales, which he then covered
with over 1,500,000 multicolor crystals The translucent,
1-millimeter-thick panels drew upon the latest in sailing technology
and varied in size from 14 meters long to 8 meters wide.
As part of Fendi’s performance series, software programmer and
engineer Mortiz Waldemeyer continued his work with the band OK Go,
integrating servo motor-driven lasers into their guitars. When the
members strummed the strings, thin lines of red and green lights
extended out of the instruments’ necks and interacted with a video
wall, illustrating the music in real time. Above are photos of the
instruments and wall when still, and then with the guitars in action.
Fendi also took over the Moore Building for F Factory, filling three
of the structure’s four floors with pop-up shops from high-end fashion
brands Maison Martin Margiela (pictured) and Stubbs & Wootton. The
Factory was an anchor part of the district’s larger Limited Edition
Experience, which featured exclusive goods from Duncan Quinn, Tomas
Maier, Gucci, and Christian Louboutin.
HSBC Private Bank kicked off its Connection Collection of
limited-edition works with two pieces by the Tel Aviv-born,
Paris-based Arik Levy. The stainless-steel-and-wood RockShelves
(pictured above) and walnut RockSplit play with concepts of nature and
artifice and further Levy’s studies of geography.