Design Miami/Basel 2021: Preview

The long-awaited 15th edition sums up the zeitgeist with a robust and varied programme.

21st-26th September 2021

By Adrian Madlener / 14th September 2021
Abel Carcamo, 'Lamp', 2021 COURTESY: Galerie Scene Ouverte

Abel Carcamo, ‘Lamp’, 2021
COURTESY: Galerie Scene Ouverte

DESPITE THE VAGARIES of the ongoing pandemic, collectible fair Design Miami/ is going ahead with its 15th Basel edition. The event, held from 21th to 26th September alongside powerhouse platform Art Basel, lies at the heart of a jam-packed September art and design calendar. The robust programme will bring together various talents, typologies and themes, deftly reinforcing Design Miami/’s importance as not just a marketplace but as a cultural authority. The blurring of disciplinary boundaries – bringing fine art into the fold – reflects a shift towards creative freedom and more contextualised offerings.

Ok Kim, 'Merge Series', 2020 COURTESY: Ok Kim

Ok Kim, ‘Merge Series’, 2020

“This year’s presentations offer an insightful snapshot of the current design market – from incredible works by icons such as Lalanne and Picasso, through to contemporary masterpieces [by figures] such as Misha Kahn and Daniel and Boris Berlin,” says Jennifer Roberts, Design Miami/’s CEO.

François-Xavier Lalanne, 'Le Brochet', 1973 COURTESY: Bailly Gallery

François-Xavier Lalanne, ‘Le Brochet’, 1973
COURTESY: Bailly Gallery

Forty galleries have signed on to showcase their latest wares at the fair as well as to shed new light on historic masterpieces. As seen at other events – like the pared-back but equally exuberant Supersalone earlier in the month – an interest in revamping classics seems to be guiding multiple facets of the design industry. This trend perhaps aligns with a new push for dynamic sustainability, or simply a desire to not constantly seek out the new.

André Borderie, 'Tête à lumière', circa 1960 COURTESY: Jousse Enterprise Gallery

André Borderie, ‘Tête à lumière’, circa 1960
COURTESY: Jousse Enterprise Gallery

The reinvention of High Modernism  –  ‘High Modernism Redux’ – is the theme chosen to represent this impulse, as designers reevaluate this critical period and its enduring influence on contemporary output. Represented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery, the multitalented duo Rick Owen and Michèle Lamy will introduce new monolithic, monochromatic furnishings that blend the principles of brutalism and minimalism. Meanwhile, LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown will mount a recreation of Jean Prouvé’s 1958 ‘Gas Station’, a design that neatly demonstrates the French master’s innovations including a core central structure and circular architectonics. Newcomer Objective Gallery will debut two new collections of work by Chinese designer Chen Furong – the Shanghai-based talent who draws parallels between tradition and modernity.

Chen Furong, 'Raw Console', 2021 COURTESY: Chen Furong Studio

Chen Furong, ‘Raw Console’, 2021
COURTESY: Chen Furong Studio

The lasting popularity of midcentury Brazilian design, combining elements of austerity and powerful expression, will make an appearance in rarely seen works by Joaquim Tenreiro, in a presentation by Gokelaere & Robinson, and Ines Schertel, in a ‘Curio’ display by Mercado Moderno. Barcelona-based Side Gallery will take a deep dive into social model factory Unilabor – the collaborative work of Geraldo de Barros and Friar João Batista Pereira dos Santos. The retrospective considers the value of cooperative work and the potential of forging a more equitable bond between artists and craftspeople.

Geraldo de Barros for UNILABOR, 'Bookcase',1955 COURTESY: Side Gallery

Geraldo de Barros for UNILABOR, ‘Bookcase’,1955
COURTESY: Side Gallery

Belgian designer Lionel Jadot makes a case for resourcefulness and adaptability, as seen in the work of many emerging talents addressing the impending environmental crisis and the reality of limited natural materials. Presented by Antwerp-based platform Everyday Objects, his ‘Found Object’ collages are spontaneously assembled according to a playful exquisite corpse approach.

Lionel Jadot, 'Let Me Talk', 2020 COURTESY: Everyday Gallery

Lionel Jadot, ‘Let Me Talk’, 2020
COURTESY: Everyday Gallery

Paris’s Gallery SCENE OUVERTE will display Atelier Van Asseldonk’s ‘Blackhole Mirror’ – combinations of disparate objects that emphasise using what we already have on the planet, rather than engineering resources anew.

An overarching leitmotif for this year’s Design Miami/Basel is the notion of ‘Human Nature:’ our evolving relationship with each other and the natural world. Ushering visitors into the Messe Basel convention centre will be DRIFT’s large ‘SHYLIGHT’ installation. Mounted by immersive arts incubator Superblue, the multi-sensorial work draws inspiration from how plants move in accordance with the patterned motion of the sun and moon. In line with current interactive and experiential trends, this vestibule space will also host a series of dance performances and meditation classes, a welcome respite from hours walking both extensive fairs, not to mention off-site programming throughout the city.

Aldo Bakker, 'Green Table Urushi' console, 2017 COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Aldo Bakker, ‘Green Table Urushi’ console, 2017
COURTESY: Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Exhibited as part of the ‘Design At Large’ section, French designer Mathieu Lehanneur’s ‘State Of The World’ project comprises anodised aluminium sculptures that embody demographic data sourced from the United Nations. These monumental works derive from three-dimensional population pyramids from different countries around the world. “[This thematic] asks [us] how we might rethink the relationship between humans, nature, and human nature,” departing Design Miami Curatorial Director Aric Chen reflects. “The question of sustainability and planetary survival is not simply technical, but also cognitive, cultural and philosophical. As it becomes increasingly clear that human centric world views and approaches are no longer tenable, we want to explore how design offers possibilities for reimagining our relationship with non-human beings and intelligences in more viable ways.”

FOS, 'X-Bench Petit', 2018 COURTESY: FOS and Etage Projects

FOS, ‘X-Bench Petit’, 2018
COURTESY: FOS and Etage Projects

Complementing the fair’s multi-disciplinary focus are looks at ‘Japanese Design’ and ‘Jewellery’. While New York-based dealer Erik Thomsen takes visitors on a journey into the wondrous world of traditional Japanese basketry, ceramic jars, gold lacquer boxes and folding screens, San Francisco’s Gallery Japonesque will show work by acclaimed artisans Masatoshi Izumi and glass pieces by Akihiro Isogai. Brussels-based Pierre Marie Giraud will confirm its expertise in this specialism with a selection of exquisite ceramics by Kazunori Hamana.

Kazunori Hamana, 'Tsubo', 2020 COURTESY: Pierre Marie Giraud

Kazunori Hamana, ‘Tsubo’, 2020
COURTESY: Pierre Marie Giraud

With a commitment to experimentation in the medium, Munich-based fourth-generation, family-run Munich jeweller Hemmerle will bring 150 of its most striking adornments. Settings crafted using diamonds, aluminium, bronze and white gold evoke the cracked earth of the American Southwest and demonstrate the potential of fusing uncommon materials. Introducing its new jewellery division, Carpenters Workshop Gallery will present pieces by Kayo Saito, Caroline Van Hoek and Ane Christensen developed during the long months of lockdown.

“As we look forward to welcoming people back to Basel to experience these works and meet with the experts, we’re also excited to debut for the first time in Basel our online shopping and viewing experience, where all pieces on the show floor will be available to view and shop online in real-time,” Roberts concludes. With such a charismatic show in store, The Design Edit is also looking forward to what Design Miami/’s main event, held in Miami Beach this winter (1st to 5th December), will have in store.

Design Miami/Basel 

Article by Adrian Madlener
Article by Adrian Madlener
Adrian Madlener is a Brussels-born, New York-based writer covering a wide range of design-related topics. View all articles by Adrian Madlener