PREVIEW / Design Miami/ 2022
A preview of a selection of this year’s exhibitors reveals some cutting edge contemporary works, many by designers making their fair debut.
Pride Park, Miami Beach
30 November – 4 December 2022
NEXT WEEK THE contemporary design world will pivot its attention from New York to Miami Beach for the 18th edition of Design Miami/. The fair’s overarching theme, selected by this year’s curatorial director Maria Cristina Didero, is ‘The Golden Age’, as it was for the brand’s sister event Design Miami/Basel last June. The subtitle however has been changed from ‘Rooted in the Past’ to ‘Looking to the Future’, a shift in emphasis that neatly encapsulates what distinguishes the flagship Miami Beach iteration from its Swiss counterpart.
As a brand, Design Miami/ positions itself as the global authority for collectible design and its fairs are structured in the same way. Work is selected by a committee of fair organisers in conjunction – unusually – with a gallery committee, so the contrast between them is driven by location. “Basel is a little more restrained with this massive presentation of historical pieces,” explains Didero, “while Miami is more modern and cutting edge.”
The beachside setting is also largely responsible for making this fair stand out within the wider design fair ecosystem. “PAD London, Salon Art + Design in New York and Paris+ par Art Basel [where Design Miami/ plans to show next year] are in great metropolises where it’s easy to just pop in,” says Jen Roberts, CEO of Design Miami/. “Miami is a destination event, people come for the week. That means it’s a great place to work on relationships with clients and it also means – and this is the part that’s most distinct to us – that we put tremendous weight behind our education and talks programme. We incorporate more than just our gallery exhibitors, bringing in a lot of universities, leading design thinkers and architects to look at topics of relevance to our current environment. Together those things make Miami the place where you can really see what’s happening in the market in the most expansive way.”
Looking at this year’s line-up, it seems that, despite the global permacrisis, the production side of the market is looking to the future with optimism. Rather than playing safe, exhibiting galleries are focused on work that challenges and experiments both materially and aesthetically – much of it created by artists making their Design Miami/ debuts.
New York-based Les Ateliers Courbet is introducing three young artists and artisans: French designer Emma Donnersberg; Chilean artist Abel Cárcamo, and Moroccan wood sculptor Hamza Kadiri whose cantilevered ‘Eros Brut’ table has been hand-crafted from a single trunk of ash and charred using the traditional Japanese shou-sugi-ban technique.
Friedman Benda’s group show includes three pieces of furniture by Lithuanian-born, Brussels-based designer Barbora Žilinskaitė that examine figuration through a furniture vernacular, while Wexler Gallery is showcasing work by 2019 Loewe Craft Prize finalist Harry Morgan. Bringing together the crafts of glassblowing and concrete casting, Morgan’s sculptures challenge his chosen material’s physical and cultural connotations.
US-based galleries understandably predominate, but 14 European galleries are crossing the Atlantic to Miami, lured by the fair’s unique combination of hard commerce (according to Roberts, 80% of the contemporary design market ends up in the US) and exuberant festival spirit.
“The United States is our primary market,” explains Béatrice Saint-Laurent founder of Paris’s Galerie BSL, returning after several years’ absence. “We want to be present there in the most effective way, and Design Miami/ has clearly positioned itself as an avant-garde actor. Our concept for Design Miami/ 2022 is ‘The Power of Biomorphism’ and the booth, mainly organised around four bodies of work by Pia Maria Raeder, Ayala Serfaty, Nacho Carbonell and Taher Chemirik, is an invitation to embrace both design and nature differently.” Much of the work is new for the show, including Raeder’s compelling, other-worldly ‘Sea Anemone Side Table’ made from 8,000 lacquered beech rods.
London’s Sarah Myerscough gallery is back too with a curation titled ‘Material Shores’, a collection of boundary-pushing work crafted from sisal, rice straw, willow, grasses and wood that captures the immediacy of the organic world – as well as championing innovative, sustainable and restorative design practices. The centrepiece of this presentation is a commanding eco-contemporary reimagining of the chandelier by Angela Damman. Hand-crafted from sansevieria plant fibre, it exudes opulence and luscious materiality.
Fellow Londoner Gallery FUMI is exhibiting for the first time, unveiling work intended to showcase the quality and crafts-making capabilities of the gallery’s artists. Several of the works have been commissioned especially for the show, including a faceted seven-part fibreglass light installation, ‘Fiore del Cielo’ by Sam Orlando Miller that continues the British artist’s fascination with patina and surface texture, and a sinuous, three-metre-long oak and white marble marquetry dining table by Italian craftsman Francesco Perini.
Paris-based Galerie Negropontes is also marking its Miami debut with a flurry of work created for the show that offers a dialogue between tradition and modernity. Highlights are Etienne Moyat’s richly tactile ‘Ricochet’ wood panels and Erwann Boulloud’s monolithic ‘Atacamita II’ polished bronze cabinets.
“I think Design Miami/ is the only fair dedicated solely to design,” says Roberts. “That really sets us apart and in Miami particularly the work we select exhibits a lot of big thinking and contemporary personality.”
That personality extends to the people who flock to the white tents on Pride Park. “We bring over 40,000 people to Miami,” Roberts says, “and most of them are not shopping for design. The commercial aspect is very important, but we welcome everyone. If you’re interested in learning about and experiencing contemporary design first-hand then there’s no better place to come.”
Design Miami/ 3D curated tours and a selection of talks will be available online.