A Design Delight: 2015 edition of Design Miami/

Shana Beth Mason has visited Design Miami/

This year’s edition of Design Miami/ was (if it is possible to make a broad assessment) filled with innovative vignettes for interior spaces, interesting references to historic moments in the development of global design movements, and attractive visions of the future of applied design for both public and private consumption.

The entryway to the pavilion is always marked with an ambitious outdoor project, known as Commission. A particularly impressive iteration back in 2011 was a cavernous gazebo made from thin panes of wood, creating a ripple effect as a viewer walked in and around it (Genesis was designed by David Adjaye, who was awarded that fair’s Designer of the Year Award). For the 2015 edition, a team of students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design erected UNBUILT: a garden of white poles, upon which were mounted pink foam architectural models of unfinished structures.

At the Collector’s Preview on December 1st, the atmosphere was buzzing, but not suffocating. One of the first booths upon entering the pavilion was Paris-based Jousse Entreprise. Iconic designers and architects such as Le Corbusier, Georges Jouve, and Jean Prouvé have been on the gallery’s roster for over thirty years, but the striking navy-blue walls as the backdrop for a wood and aluminum bookshelf by Charlotte Periand from 1950 was an instant showstopper. Nearby at Southern Guild (based in Cape Town), a veritable biosphere was on display. A bronze ostrich skeleton supporting a flat disc (ostensibly serving as a table or plinth), an iron and copper lily pad-table fashioned by Conrad Hicks, and a hanging chair in the form of an open-mouthed orca whale by Porky Hefer (yes, that is the artist’s name) were all delightfully tongue-in-cheek. Three equal-sized low tables (pulled from an established series by Christopher Duffy called The Abyss Tables) stunningly mimicked a topographic map of a section of deep ocean from surface to nadir, outshining other entries by Zaha Hadid and Gareth Neal, presented by Sarah Myerscough Gallery (London).

Finally, it was truly refreshing to see a Miami-based project represented at the fair, and this year boasted a young design collective called Giovanni Beltran, which is a “cousin” of the well-regarded contemporary art program known as GUCCIVUITTON in Little Haiti (the gallery’s directors are local artists Domingo Castillo, Aramis Gutierrez, and Loriel Beltran). Theirs was one of the young platforms to enter Design Miami/ and its new platform Curio, where pre-made environments will resemble so-called “cabinets of curiosity.” Jonathan Gonzalez’s Storefront hearkens back to Miami’s distinctive deco movement (Miami Vice is more than appropriate), with neutral tones and raw/organic materials.

Before leaving the fair, I happened upon Fendi Casa’s project L’altra metà del sogno (1940-2015): a previously unrealized vision for the Esposizione Universale Roma section of the 1942 World’s Fair (the Second World War prevented the project from becoming a reality). Not for nothing, the walls of the booth resembled the white blocks on my own Fendi watch; a photo-op I couldn’t possibly pass up.

Design Miami/ opened with a Collector’s Preview on 1 December and runs until December 6 in a dedicated space adjacent to Art Basel Miami Beach at the Miami Beach Convention Center.