The stalwart fair beats all the odds with a hybrid presentation – celebrating the Americas region.
Moore Building, 191 NE 40th St, Miami + online
27th November – 6th December 2020
ALTHOUGH COVID-19 cases are spiking throughout the United States and impending lockdowns loom over most cities, the powers that be behind major fair Design Miami/ have decided to move forward with their event. The bluechip platform has adopted a hybrid model in which 139 works presented by ten galleries and four Curios will be exhibited both in physical space and online. Though reduced in size and scope, Design Miami/, responsible in large part for the launch of the collectible design market two decades ago, has ensured its own continuation and survival with an adapted program that respects the strictest health guidelines, while honouring its history and the surrounding region.
“We were determined to host a physical event this year,” Design Miami/ CEO Jennifer Roberts explains. “After all of the challenges of 2020, we thought it was important to celebrate the brilliant designers and gallerists we work with and provide an opportunity to support their businesses. Of course, there were a number of important elements we had to consider and respond to – from extending our run time to ten days to allow for social distancing, to implementing temperature checks on arrival.”
With most events and physical gallery spaces shuttered throughout the globe this year, the collectible design world, like most creative industries, has taken a significant hit this year. Over the years, agoras such as Design Miami/ have served as an essential meeting place for different stakeholders and have helped to grow this niche market. Design and craft objects, perhaps more so that two-dimensional fine art, can only truly be appreciated and understood in person. The physical event, normally positioned next to Art Basel/Miami Beach, has played an essential role in educating a growing collector base, persuading even the most hardened art buyers to acquire sumptuous objets d’art and thought-provoking furnishings. The event’s presence in Basel each June has helped this cause.
Along with Art Basel, Design Miami/ has also done a lot for its host city in terms of helping to establish the South Florida metropolis as a major hub for the arts. Now in its 16th year, Design Miami/ remains an anchor for an ever-expanding Miami Art Week each December. Leaving the Miami Beach white tents that have become synonymous with its vigorous program for the Moore Building, the fair has returned to its roots in the Miami Design District.
The Design Miami/ Podium will display works from some of its oldest partners. Carpenters Workshop Gallery will present ‘Bright Future’, an exhibition of colourful and sculptural luminaires by Nacho Carbonell, Studio Job and Stuart Haygarth. New York’s R & Company gallery will present a hand-built paper pulp shelf by Katie Stout, a triple-necked bronze table by The Haas Brothers, and works by Johnny Swing (both featured by The Design Edit earlier this fall).
Exploring the newly-normalised marijuana culture in America, Hudson Valley mainstay Ornamentum will present ‘Up in Smoke’, a collection of devices designed by Dutch design heavyweight Gijs Bakker. Alongside historic 20th century masterpieces, South Florida platforms Mindy Solomon Gallery and Design Team Hettler Tüllmann will mount ‘Flamingo Sunrise’, a space featuring a flamingo-inspired colour palette and lively, multi-coloured hand-knotted carpets.
Left to right: Nacho Carbonell, ‘Blueish Balls Bubble Lamp’, 2020; Atelier Van Lieshout, ‘Venus Lamp’, 2017
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery
“The Podium exhibition concept is a scaled-down version of our fair, with scaled-up curation”
Left to right: The Haas Brothers, ‘Winnie the Two’ marbled cactus floor lamp, 2015; ‘Rip Thorn’ marble cactus floor lamp, 2015
COURTESY: Design Miami / PHOTOGRAPHER: Kris Tamburello
“Shop.designmiami.com offers visitors the ability to purchase works from the show and sign up for live guided tours through the fair”
“Design Miami/ Podium will be curated across the four floors of The Moore Building,” Roberts adds. “Different pieces will be positioned among our more traditional galleries. The Podium exhibition concept is something we had been exploring for a little while now. It’s a scaled-down version of our fair, with scaled-up curation. The virtual components are four-fold: visitors to Shop.designmiami.com can purchase works from the show directly on the site; sign up for live guided tours through the fair; navigate the fair in three dimensions; and watch one of our films – or one of the 20 plus talks with design, architecture, and fashion luminaries.”
Design Miami/’s position as not only a commercial venture but as a cultural benchmark has been fortified in recent years by the introduction of noted curator Aric Chen’s dynamic Design At Large program. This curatorial endeavour addresses pressing issues and themes outside the realm of collectible design. This year’s exhibition will focus on the surrounding region of the Americas.
“It goes without saying that ‘America’ has been on everyone’s mind,” Chen explains. “This was obviously already the case last year when we decided to take on this theme and, between the US Presidential election, Black Lives Matter protests, and everything else, it’s only been amplified in the time since. We wanted to take as expansive a view of “America” as possible and to critique what needs to be critiqued – while also celebrating what still deserves to be celebrated. In other words, to be totally inclusive by presenting underrepresented voices, but also some of the canonical ones to show how they can, and should, coexist while placing them on a more equal footing. We wanted to transcend singular notions of America as an identity or geography. So this isn’t a show about “American design” per se, but rather America as an idea that goes beyond the United States proper.”
This showcase will present works from across both continents. Brazil’s Jose Zanine Caldas will be shown alongside contemporary Chilean collective Gt2P and Hechizoo from Colombia. 19th century works by Native Americans will sit in dialogue with examples of American Folk Art and new pieces by Roberto Lugo, Duke Riley, and Michelle Erickson, talents who have reappropriated historical decorative arts traditions to formulate politically charged narratives. Topping this off will be dinosaur fossils excavated in Wyoming.”
With additional displays mounted by Perrier-Jouët, Lexus, PERRIER, USM, and MAISON DE MODE, this year’s unusual Design Miami/ promises to be memorable, even if experienced from afar.