Design Miami/Basel 2016. Blurring the boundaries between art and design
Every year Design Miami/Basel brings together the best and most respected world design galleries, covering a century of design movement and contemporary creators, presenting museum-quality exhibitions and installations of furniture, lighting and art objects.
Occurring alongside the Art Basel fair in Messe Basel New Hall designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the design exhibition has a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere compared to the art fair next door.
Over the last five to ten years, collectible design is growing rapidly as a land of concepts and ideas. Both vintage and contemporary pieces straddle the line between art and design.
High-end design is where the most cutting-edge innovation happens, with artists and artisans experimenting new technologies and pushing the boundaries of time-tested techniques.
These carefully made, luxuriously crafted and highly conceptual design pieces are seen as a solid investment, that will continue to stay relevant for years to come.
Like every year, we were there to visit the fair and here are some highlights of this year’s edition.
1. Design at Large
This year Design at Large, the curated program of large-scale architectural installations and design works, explored the theme of beauty and nature.
Designed to be movable, the metal screen installation Owan, by Kengo Kuma, is a nomadic sustainable structure. Something between architecture and a mini-landscape, this structure can be bent into new forms when heated and is lined with a waterproof membrane.
PP Trees are a large-scale installation by Tom Price. Set at the entrance of the fair, his creation offered an unconventional vision of nature, leading visitors through an enchanted forest where cherry trees in bloom are made of polypropylene pipe and nylon cables.
2. Friedman Benda
Friedman Benda’s exhibitions and publications have played a vital role in the development of the contemporary design market and education and take a comprehensive approach to work that intersects the fields of design, craft and art. Their booth displayed the creations by the Dutch hi-tech designer Joris Laarman, who is a pioneer of 3D printing of metal furniture. The architectural meshes of the furniture Microstructures series, 3D printed objects in aluminum and soft polyurethane, allow for fine gradients in thickness, porosity, flexibility, color, and size.
3. Galerie Vivid / Galerie Marie Wettergren
Vivid was among the first Dutch galleries to show contemporary design in the context of both design and art. The gallery’s solo exhibitions have presented important contemporary designers, mostly Dutch, but also great designers from the twentieth century.
Galerie Maria Wettergren represents cutting-edge contemporary designers and architects and is specialized in contemporary Scandinavian and Japanese art and design, made in limited editions. The gallery represents poetic and pioneering works between art, design, crafts and architecture.
4. Galerie Pascal Cuisinier
The Parisian gallery Pascal Cuisinier have furnished their booth with a vibrant tropical wallpaper as a backdrop for the gallery’s presentation of beautiful French mid-century pieces.
They championed their creations designed between 1950 and 1961 and presented some of the rarest examples of lamps and furnitures from that period, characterized by their functionality, their technical innovation and the elegance of their design.
5. Hostler Burrows
Hostler Burrows is a New York gallery specializing in Nordic and American design and decorative arts. The gallery’s program integrates contemporary and twentieth century work, with a primary focus on studio ceramics and design luminaries. They displayed a rarely seen collection of mid-century Swedish pottery and contemporary ceramic sculptures inspired by biomorphic forms with delicate colors and textures.
6. Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Carpenters Workshop Gallery displayed functional sculptures that transcend the classical borders in terms of art and design.
Their proposal stands just at the intersection of these two universes, reaching precisely a symbiosis of art and design. They brought together some of the most interesting contemporary pieces that have appeared in recent years, being actively involved in the research and production of the limited edition works exhibited.
7. Sarah Myerscough Gallery
Sarah Myerscough Gallery promotes formal and aesthetic innovations within contemporary visual arts by breaking down boundaries between fine art, craft, design and architecture. As a multidisciplinary platform, the gallery promotes quality of process and practice across disciplines, with a particular focus on unique or limited edition pieces in wood furniture design. Christopher Duffy’s Abyss Console, a mesmerizing illusion of a piece of the earth's sea bed, is a result of a year of experimentation with materials such as sculpted glass, perspex and wood, arranged like a 3D representation of a geological map.
8. Gallery ALL
Gallery ALL is one of the first design galleries in China dedicated to exhibiting collectible design. The gallery’s mission is to facilitate a dialogue of design between the East and the West, bringing exceptional designs to the Chinese market while promoting Chinese designers to the global platform. The Finnish 3D printer and designer Janne Kyttanen presented its Metsidian shelf, created through a combination of 3D printing and explosion welding – a process in which chemical explosives are used to weld together materials that would not bond together through conventional processes.
9. Moderne Gallery/Nilufar Gallery/R&Company/Demisch Danant
Design Miami/Basel offered some highlights to lovers of historical design.
Moderne Gallery displayed a collection of work by George Nakashima.
Nilufar Gallery and R&Company both presented furniture pieces by Joaquim Tenreiro, the pioneer of modernist Brazilian furniture making, among which his exquisitely crafted six sided table.
Demisch Danant showed a special presentation of French designer Pierre Paulin, with an incredible selection of rare pieces including the stunning Cathedral Table.
The 2016 Swarovski Designers of the Future Award presented some interactive crystal sculptures. The Anjali Srinivasan’s work Unda is an undulating wave of touch-sensitive crystal tiles, responding to human touch by lighting up the area of contact.
Yuri Suzuki's sculpture, titled Sharevari, is a mechanical crystallophone that produces sound through the vibration of crystals, it can be "conducted" and played by audience members by way of a network of sensors.
11. Zaha Hadid
The exhibition dedicated to Zaha Hadid, put together by her firm Zaha Hadid Architects, commemorates the architect’s contribution to the field of design, following her unexpected death earlier this year. Included in the display is her Liquid Glacial range of acrylic stools and tables, designed to resemble ice formations, as well as her Valle shelves in slashes of black granite.