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 sinceits founding five years ago by property developer Craig Robins, thefair has been about cultivating moneyed collectors, not breaking newwork. These commercial underpinnings were apparent Dec. 1 to 5 at thefair’s latest installment. As with parallel event Art Basel MiamiBeach, the preference was for the tried and tested. Big-name piecescommissioned by Design Miami partners Audi, HSBC, Fendi, and Swarovskidominated the show, upstaging–and perhaps even atoning for–the sparsenumber of exhibitors and satellite events. But there were brightmoments amid the fray, the best of which are detailed below.
As part of its world launch of the A8 luxury sedan, Audi commissionedBritish designer Tom Dixon to create a product that reflected thevalues and materials of the car. The resulting Light Lightpendants–featured in Audi’s Art of Progress installation, which alsoincluded art selections from the Rubell Family Collection–drew uponthe A8’s aluminum frame and its all-LED headlights.
Although only 31 years old, Dutchman Maarten Baas is fast approachingsuperstar status, having designed collections for Established & Sonsand Moooi; held solo shows at Galleria Rosanna Orlandi in Milan andMoss in New York (which also represents him); and completedcommissions from uber-agent Michael Ovitz and actor Brad Pitt. As the2009 Designer of the Year, Baas created the Shell, an armoire with aroughly welded steel exterior and refined walnut veneer interior. Herehe stands before it, explaining that both cartoons and spaceshipsinspired its shape.
The exception to this year’s rule, the London-based Gallery LibbySellers continued to take chances on lesser-known talent. For TidalOssary, designers Julia Lohmann and Gero Grundmann fashioned delicatevases from 19th century animal bones the pair found along the shoresof the Thames.
For Swarovski Crystal Palace, architect Greg Lynn assembled a seriesof overlapping carbon- and aramid-fiber sales, which he then coveredwith over 1,500,000 multicolor crystals The translucent,1-millimeter-thick panels drew upon the latest in sailing technologyand varied in size from 14 meters long to 8 meters wide.
As part of Fendi’s performance series, software programmer andengineer Mortiz Waldemeyer continued his work with the band OK Go,integrating servo motor-driven lasers into their guitars. When themembers strummed the strings, thin lines of red and green lightsextended out of the instruments’ necks and interacted with a videowall, illustrating the music in real time. Above are photos of theinstruments and wall when still, and then with the guitars in action.
Fendi also took over the Moore Building for F Factory, filling threeof the structure’s four floors with pop-up shops from high-end fashionbrands Maison Martin Margiela (pictured) and Stubbs & Wootton. TheFactory was an anchor part of the district’s larger Limited EditionExperience, which featured exclusive goods from Duncan Quinn, TomasMaier, Gucci, and Christian Louboutin.
HSBC Private Bank kicked off its Connection Collection oflimited-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 andartifice and further Levy’s studies of geography.