In DESIGN

Grandiose temporary architecture and emotive capacities of textile techniques at this year’s Design Miami/Basel, the first under its new director

Maria Cristina Didero reviews Design Miami/Basel for us and shares her thoughts on a selection of exhibits at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

[two_columns_one] Every June, the art week of Basel – as it is called – is synonymous with high expectations for professionals and art-lovers from around the world. But for the design addicted this year, such expectations could be said to be exceeded at Design Miami/Basel. This was the first edition led by new director Rodman Primack following his appointment in March 2014. Primack is the first American director – Californian to be precise – to head the fair, which itself was born in Miami (led first by its Italian-Greek co-founder Ambra Medda, then by the Austrian Marianne Goebl). Design Miami is now ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary after positioning itself as one of the unmissable fairs on the global design calendar.

[/two_columns_one] [two_columns_one_last] Primack considers his new fair an event which has already reached a prominent level thanks to his predecessors, and which is now his task to refine even more. “Design Miami/Basel takes place two times a year in two different continents; it is like a machine that constantly needs fuel. I would like to organize some more events during the whole year”. And while Primack begins to look to the Far East, the Swiss edition was impressive enough, surprising many visitors with its site specific works, commissioned pieces, talks, projects and the impressive number of galleries it brought together; in a record for the fair, the prestigious roster reached 49 this year.

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SEANCE by Sheila Hicks. Photo: Ames Harris

SEANCE by Sheila Hicks. Photo: Ames Harris

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Volcanic Lava Collection, Formafantasma

Volcanic Lava Collection, Formafantasma

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Visitors were welcomed by a grandiose installation by New York-based designer Jamie Zigelbaum entitled Triangular Series, an outstanding scenography of 59 suspended tetrahedral lamps, scattered throughout the ground floor entrance to create a sense of immersion. Walking into the fair itself one became further captivated by the most stupendous objects by the most influential authors from today’s international design scene. Design At Large was a new, dedicated section for gigantic projects, curated by expert Dennis Freedman, capable of providing the opportunity to show these works outside their usual gallery spaces, giving visitors the chance to be struck by these vast projects. One such that was particularly taking was SEANCE, an interactive colour lab by American artist Sheila Hicks.

The first stand-out display to be mentioned came from the brilliant Gallery Libby Sellers, which presented the refined and sophisticated work of Studio Formafantasma, whose very original objects in volcanic lava sat alongside vibrant, playful pieces from Anton Alvarez, who is notable for his distinct and idiosyncratic approach to design creation. Thanks to his ingenious Thread Wrapping Machine, the Swedish-Chilean Alvarez crafts furniture without using screws, joinery or nails. Using wood, plastic or steel, he fuses parts together with meters and meters of glue-coated thread, which generates a joyful decorative pattern.

Libby Sellers, Gallery exhibit

Libby Sellers, Gallery exhibit

Prologue by Fredrikson-Stallard. Photo: Ames Harris

Prologue by Fredrikson-Stallard. Photo: Ames Harris

Design at large was a new dedicated section for gigantic projects

 

Another leader in the textiles department was Gjertrud Hals, whose display with Galerie Maria Wettergren offered a delectable and romantic piece by the Norwegian designer and fiber artist called Here, Now. The 3.5 x 2.35 metre wall unique piece of cotton-thread, crochet lace, and flax fibers looked as if it should be handled with extreme care. Hals used many different weaving techniques, from knitting and crotchet, to embroidery and macramé, with incredibly poetic results. Leading design sponsor Swarovski presented Prologue, a dazzling, imposing large-scale work by London-based studio Fredrikson Stallard; a suspended circular sculpture, like a titanic lens refracting light that had a sparkling intensity when moving even just slightly, and holding over 8,000 golden Swarovski crystal-droplets, referred to the iconography of the sun to represent new beginnings. German design star Konstantin Grcic partnered with Audi for his first architectural project: the TT Pavillion was a rounded structure in wood and steel, realized using only elements of the Audi TT car. In all it felt like an excellent beginning for the new director.

– words by Maria Cristina Didero

[dark_box] Maria Cristina Didero is a curator and journalist contributing to Officiel Hommes, Domus, Vogue Casa, Living, Flesh Art Design, Loft, and Apartamento.
 She has been in charge of the Vitra Design Museum for over 10 years and sits on the board of Veritas auction house in Lisbon, is a patron of Design Days Dubai, and curates Design Talks for Miart Milan. Last year she presented Philippe Malouin at Milan Design Week, Thick As A Brick by kuehnmalvezzi at Gio Marconi Gallery, and The System Of Objects at DESTE Foundation in Athens. In 2012 she curated Guilty by Ivana Porfiri and Jeff Koons at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Genoa. In 2011 she was appointed Director of Fondazione Bisazza, and in 2009 she contributed to the Gwangju Design Biennale and published a book on Michele De Lucchi’s work.  [/dark_box]

 

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