REVIEW / Design Miami/ 2022
Striking scenography and future-forward optimism mark this year’s fair.
COLLECTIBLE DESIGN’S PREEMINENT fair offers up a robust selection of contemporary and historical wares, with striking scenography to boot.
Celebrating its 18th edition this fall, Design Miami/ has returned to Pride Park with a vibrant offering of thought-provoking works and installations. With an overarching theme of future-forward optimism, the 50 or so exhibitors are presenting wares that demonstrate the best in material research, formal distillation, format-defying applications and, perhaps most importantly, irreverent self-expression.
Joining blue-chip powerhouses like R & Company, The Future Perfect, Gallery FUMI, Carpenters Workshop Gallery and Southern Guild are a slew of newcomers. Emma Scully Gallery, Superhouse and Objective Gallery – three recently established platforms in the vanguard of the New York scene – are making their debut. Joining purveyors of historical design Magen H and CONVERSO is expert Shaker furniture dealer John Keith Russell, bringing this incredibly rich and relevant tradition back to the fore.
Exuberant booth stagings are also in abundance. While Tuleste Factory’s emphatically blue display – incorporating bold, geometric pieces by Facture and Ian Alistair Cochran – has already garnered acclaim, Milan platform Nilufar’s striking presentation is backdropped with scenes of a tropical paradise.
“I am thrilled to be back in Miami; I have always looked at the US market’s pioneering role and vision with interest.” says gallery founder Nina Yashar. “This is why I am bringing to Design Miami/ two contemporary creative visions that I am very fond of and that reflect the energy of this city: Audrey Large works to define the liminal space between present and future, while Khaled El Mays is an exciting explosion of colours, shapes, materials.”
Showcasing Shigeru Uchida’s 1993 ‘Ji’An, Teahouse’, Ippodo Gallery has also come to Design Miami/ for the first time. The modular bamboo panelled enclosure is playing host to ‘extreme surface’ vessels and sculptures by revered Japanese artisans such as Koji Hatakeyama, Kota Arinaga and Yukiya Izumita.
In sharp contrast to maximalist displays like those put up by Mexico City-based AGO Projects, Harry Nuriev’s tongue-in-cheek ‘The Trash Bag Sofa’ sits alone in an iridescent echo chamber. “With this project, I was interested in separating the visual qualities of an object from the object itself,” the designer explains, “transforming it into something that transcends how it is perceived.”
Similar monochromatic materiality is evoked in Rick Owens’s industrial-aesthetic ‘Curial (Aluminium)’ chair on view with Carpenters Workshop Gallery.
As for New York’s crop of maverick galleries, group shows exhibiting up-and-comers with thematic undertones are a common thread. Superhouse’s ‘Dreamroom’ is formulated as the bedroom of the future.
Bold colours, wild compositions and unconventional materials are evident in works by Ellen Pong, Ryan Decker, Sean Gerstley and Kim Mupangilaï. The last named – a Belgian designer operating in Brooklyn – often harnesses natural matter like raffia and banana leaf fibre to express her multicultural African and European heritage.
Mounting the ‘Reflection Women’ show, Emma Scully Gallery has brought together new pieces by Bec Brittain, Simone Bodmer-Turner, Rooms Studio, Jane Atfield, Ibiyanε, Jaye Kim, Kaja Upelj, Nel Verbeke and Jenny Min.
With this stellar line-up of international talents, the gallerist has envisioned a display informed by the female spirit and the idea that visitors can uncover something different about themselves when engaging with the work. New refractive and mirrored pieces lend themselves to the act of self-observation.
With otherworldly explorations by the likes of Brecht Wright Gander – who also mounted a provocative installation and the Miami Art Week mainstay fair Untitled – Objective Gallery’s contribution is as viscerally satisfying as it is aesthetically pleasing.
Viktor Udzenija’s neon green tabouret stool riffs on a Charlotte Perriand classic, while Charlotte Kingsnorth’s ‘G Plan Fan Club’ dining room set builds on mid-century furniture produced by the historic British manufacturer of the same name.
Her morphed reinterpretations incorporate mottled velvet overlays that take on a corporeal quality. With other pieces by William Guillon and Manu Bañó, the ‘Reincarnation: New Objects, Old Soul’ show focuses squarely on the idea of renewal. This concept perfectly reflects Design Miami/’s current Golden Age theme.
Hailing from Los Angeles’s ever-emerging gallery scene, Stroll Garden is debuting at the fair with a striking out-of-booth display complete with brutalist fountains by Lily Clark and moonjar-inspired vases by Jane Yang D’Haene. As evident in animalesque works by Ahryun Lee at J. Lohmann Gallery’s booth, ceramics are still popular among collectors.
There’s equal demand for rare historical works like those continuously uncovered by Galerie Patrick Seguin. Pierre Jeanneret’s ‘Library Table with Light’ (1963–64) is the focal point of its expansive display, replete with complementary French designs from the era. Committed to preserving the prolific output of Brazilian modernism, newcomer gallery Diletante42 has taken the fair by storm with its 1965 Sergio Rodrigues ‘Tonico Armchair’. This year’s Design Miami/ has something for every taste.
In other parts of Miami, a slew of furniture brands and material producers are launching special projects. One such activation is Mexican natural stone supplier ARCA’s joint collaboration with noted artist Alicja Kwade and top interior designer Kelly Wearstler.
Kwade created stacks of melted ice cream scoops as commentary on Miami’s precarious position in the impending climate crisis; Wearstler is debuting the 24-piece NUDO collection of stone furniture and accessories. Inspired by a Sheila Hicks weaving she discovered on a recent trip to Paris, Wearstler envisioned designs that could translate the quality of looped textile fibre into solid form.
“With these designs, I was deeply interested in exploring the possibility of creating a real softness through curvaceous shapes within the fortitude of marble,” she says. “A nuanced and sensual interplay of suppleness and strength.”
As the worlds of collectible fine art and design continue to intermingle, there’s more to see this year by way of functional sculpture and object-oriented installation at the parallel fine art fairs like Art Basel Miami and NADA – while objects at Design Miami/ continue to pull at their functional tethers.
Design Miami/ at Pride Park, Miami Beach, 30 November-4 December 2022. 3D curated tours and a selection of talks will be available online.