Design Miami/ 2018 Sees Emerging Contemporary Talent Meet Historic Masterworks

Design Miami/ concluded its fourteenth edition last week, with strong attendance from collectors, curators, and industry professionals at the VIP Collectors Preview and throughout the duration of the fair.

The roster of 33 leading design galleries and 12 Curio presentations revealed a cross-section of twentieth and twenty-first century design and decorative art, including rare and never-before-seen works of the highest quality. Jennifer Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Design Miami/, said, on the conclusion of the fair, “Each edition we are able to assess the state of the market and I am pleased that Design Miami’s fourteenth edition saw a brisk pace of collection within the first minutes of the fair opening that continued through the week. Values are high, and gallerists are pleased that reserving masterworks and museum-quality material for the fair each year continues to pay off.”

Rodman Primack, who transitions this week from Chief Creative Officer to Global Ambassador of Design Miami/, remarked, “In addition to being a barometer of the market, we see movements and discourses crop up within the fair. This edition, an emergent theme has been collaboration. From iterative works passed from one designer to another at Etage Projects (by FOS, Sabine Marcelis, and Guillermo Santomà), to Calico (with Philippe Malouin) and the KAWS and Campana Brothers collaboration, the contemporary design world is producing much of its strongest work in this way.”

Collaboration was met with experimentation across the fair floor, with textures and materials finding application in unexpected forms. Marcin Rusak debuted a series of furniture made from discarded flowers sourced from florists and cast in resin, leaving the petals, stems, and buds on display. Sang Hoon Kim’s furniture series at Cristina Grajales Gallery is informed by his family’s three-generation foam factory; layers of foam create highly textured, vividly colored sofas, chaises, chairs, and tables. At Functional Art Gallery, Théophile Blandet’s works demonstrate his belief that plastic will be banned entirely in the near future––he uses primitive tools to break, chop, burn, and melt a variety of industrial plastics.

Alongside the gallery program, Design Miami/ presented an exhibition and site-specific installation by Design Miami/ Visionary Award winners Pedro Reyes and Carla Fernández, a series of satellite exhibitions, design collaborations, and a dynamic program of interviews and panel discussions.

Major Sales and Acquisitions/
Masterworks of historic importance anchored twentieth-century design offerings, with a one-of-a-kind Jean Royère sofa at Galerie Patrick Seguin selling to a major international collector/patron. The gallery sold five other works by Royère and Pierre Jeanneret as well. Galerie VIVID of Rotterdam sold four Wouter Dam ceramics to New York–based collector Lee Mindel as well as a Steltman chair by Gerrit Rietveld. Nearly all hand-painted plates by Jean Cocteau sold out in the first days of the fair at first-time exhibitor Lebreton’s booth, ranging in price from $14,000 to $34,000. A large-scale Beth Cavener ceramic sold to a private buyer for $250,000 at Jason Jacques Gallery, while a large brass sculpture by Harry Bertoia sold at CONVERSO for $425,000 alongside a custom Warren Platner sectional sofa set for $140,000, which is destined for an upcoming David Chipperfield project. The contemporary market was equally lively with all six of Katie Stout’s Girl Army lamps at R & Company selling in the first forty minutes of the fair for $55,000 each. Strong sales were also reported at Functional Art Gallery of Berlin, at The Future Perfect of New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and at Southern Guild of Cape Town, whose new works by Porky Hefer continue to delight collectors.

Rosanne Somerson, President of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) remarked of the fair: “I found this edition of Design Miami/ to be the strongest showcase since its inception. Works like Katie Stout’s female lamps at R & Company and Design Visionary winner Carla Fernandez’s meticulously crafted garments characterize a shifting perspective at the show, which affirms that new voices are not only creating beautiful objects, but demonstrating how design increasingly integrates political and social perspectives.”

Joseph Becker, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design at SFMOMA, who sits on Design Miami/’s vetting committee confirmed, “The fair is a window into the rising talents of contemporary design and a highlight reel for some of the finest examples of iconic and historical work. This year, the breadth and expression of materiality was paramount, with designers stretching, inverting, and ripping apart conventions to produce something fresh.”

Notable Attendees/
Virgil Abloh, Micky Arison, Abigail Asher, Roland Augustine, Brad Bell, Colleen Bell, Jonathan Cheban, Silvia Karman Cubiñá, Caroline Daur, Rosario Dawson, Beth DeWoody, Elisa Estrada, Barbara Guggenheim, Julie Hillman, Maja Hoffmann, Tony Ingrao, Arthur Jafa, Catherine Lagrange, Mark Lee, Cathy Leff, Pepe Lopez, Justine Ludwig, Lawrence Luhring, India Mahdavi, Stavros Merjos, Richard and Lisa Perry, Jean Pigozzi, Kenny Schachter, Lisa Schiff, Travis Scott, Robert Stilin, Sarah Tanguy, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Boris Vervoordt, Grace Wales Bonner, Sela Ward, Pharrell Williams, Kulapat Yantrasast

Plaza Installation Designed by Design Miami/ Visionary Award Winners Pedro Reyes and Carla Fernández/
Pedro Reyes and Carla Fernández installed a site-specific sculpture for Design Miami’s entry featuring two large-scale anthropomorphic steel pylons. The work is titled Unite. The figures, standing thirty feet tall, appear to encounter each other, and are a symbol of solidarity in a time of political and geographical divisions. The artists also installed a container on the plaza, where information was shared on the current humanitarian crisis in which Latin American immigrants and asylum seekers are being prosecuted by ICE, illegally detained, and have been separated from their children at the United States-Mexico border.

This year’s Talks program was presented by Therme Group™ in the Design Miami/ Talks Theater, which was designed by renowned architect Francis Kéré. Kéré’s theater blended inspiration from the ancient Greek agora, a public space for assembly and discussion, and the Burkinabè tuguna, the traditional gathering space in West African villages—providing an ideal environment to foster current discourse on design.

Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director of Menswear, Louis Vuitton, who participated in one the fair’s most anticipated talks, Back to the Body: Human-Oriented Forms in Art, Design, and Architecture, presented by Therme Forum at Design Miami’s Talks program, remarked on stage: “Through art, design, fashion, and architecture, we can reprogram our current self-perceptions. To really understand fashion, we need to get closer to ‘non-fashion areas.’”

Collaborations and Satellites/
FENDI, the first luxury fashion house to participate in Design Miami/, presented a project by Sabine Marcelis in celebration of its ten-year anniversary at the fair. Dedicated to rediscovering one of the most cherished elements––water––Marcelis created ten cast resin fountains inspired by iconic symbols of craftsmanship and by the logo of the historic Roman fashion house. A piece inspired by the iconic Peekaboo bag was placed at the entrance of the booth—the bag also celebrates this anniversary year.

Maison Perrier-Jouët presented HyperNature by Bethan Laura Wood in the Collectors Lounge. Officine Panerai presented a Limited Edition Luminor 1950 for Design Miami/. Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades introduced Italian design studio Atelier Biagetti’s Anemona Table, Atelier’s Oï’s Serpentine Table, and Tokujin Yoshioka’s Blossom Vase, along with a selection of existing Objets Nomades.

Lexus became the official automotive partner of Design Miami/ 2018. Grand Seiko presented The Flow of Time by Takt Project and Shingo Abe. Stephen Webster, the London-based contemporary fine jewelry brand, made its debut at Design Miami/ with an emporium of never-before-seen houseware products. USM Modular Furniture celebrated the North American prelaunch of its Haller E integrated lighting line with a modern take on a classic Swiss ski chalet. Tapis Rouge presented the IcebergMiami rug, which underwent 700 hours of sketching and more than 1,200 hours of hand-knotted manufacturing process before making its North American debut at Design Miami/. Jewelry designer Sevan Biçakçi showcased his first creative journey outside Istanbul, inspired by the opening of his flagship American boutique in the heart of the Miami Design District and by his recent travel to Cuba.

The third (RED) Auction curated by Theaster Gates and Sir David Adjaye in collaboration with the Miami Design District took place in the historic Moore Building and also welcomed visitors to Design Miami/ by way of a large-scale presentation designed by Miami architect Rene Gonzalez. Stuart Parr Collection presented a dynamic mashup of objects by Marc Newson from over the past twenty years and a selection of rare vintage 1950s Italian Jollys.