Step Inside the Debut of Design Miami Paris, Featuring Marble ‘Discourse’ Seats and Eco-Responsible Woodwork

The inaugural edition—featuring major international design galleries—continues through October 22.

L’hôtel de Maisons in the Saint Germains des Pres neighborhood serves as the official venue for Design Miami Paris. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

The inaugural edition of Design Miami Paris has thrown open its gilded doors. Running through October 22, the design fair’s debut coincides with its sister fair Paris+, complements its Miami and Basel counterparts, and has received the official blessing of the French Ministry of Culture.

“We feel at home here from day one,” said Design Miami’s CEO, Jen Roberts. “Paris is a hugely important meeting point of the design world, past and present. As design continues to be universally present in innovation and in the arts, we will see today’s contributions form new history.”

A salon of the L’hôtel de Maisons, site of Design Miami Paris. Photo: Fabrice Gousset. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

A salon of the L’hôtel de Maisons, site of Design Miami Paris. Photo: Fabrice Gousset. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

The venue could hardly be more French, an 18th-century mansion in the Left Bank’s tony Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood—and a former residence of the couturier Karl Lagerfeld. Its garden topiary, stone courtyard, and elegant interiors make for an appropriately grand space to house the fair’s 27 participating galleries—16 Parisian, 11 international—and their collectible wares spanning the last century, accent on contemporary.

Anna Pesonen at Scéne Ouverte. Photo: Nicola Gnesi. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

Anna Pesonen at Scéne Ouverte. Photo: Nicola Gnesi. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

The reward of convening around design is its allowance to meet and greet. The London-based Finnish designer Anna Pesonen took the notion of togetherness to heart. Through her Paris gallery, Scène Ouverte, she’s showing two Carrara marble seating units from a series she calls “DISCOURSE.” The chairs, which invite cohabitation, are a response to a world she sees as increasingly divided. “I feel the urgency of these topics,” she said. “I’m addressing them with the simple act of coming together for a face-to-face, offline dialogue. It might improve our collective wellbeing.”

Dan Pollock at Galerie Desprez-Breheret. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

Dan Pollock at Galerie Desprez-Breheret. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

First-time exhibitor Galerie Desprez-Breheret has paired a suite of French craftspeople with contemporary American woodworker Dan Pollock, whose artisanal furniture is carved from eco-responsible deadwood collected in the Californian desert. His creations are stoic in their simplicity, contrasting with the mansion’s ornate salons.

Also focusing on exquisite woodwork, Philadelphia’s Moderne Gallery has brought furniture and lighting pieces by famed architect and craftsman George Nakashima, made between 1936 and 1990, while London gallery Sarah Myerscough is showcasing celebrated artist John Makepeace OBE’s scorched-black, hand-carved dresser.

John Makepeace at Sarah Myerscough. Photo courtesy of Sarah Myerscough Gallery.

John Makepeace at Sarah Myerscough. Photo courtesy of Sarah Myerscough Gallery.

“High-level design and art can be accessible to all,” said Anna Williams of Miami Design District. “It plays an important role in community building.” The group has brought a vibrant yellow steel bench by the British polymath Samuel Ross as a teaser for his larger installation in the Miami Design District in November. The goal, Ross explained, is “democracy through form,” to “expand and contribute to the lineage of British sculpture and abstraction through a British-Caribbean visual language.”

Samuel Ross at Miami Design District. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

Samuel Ross at Miami Design District. Courtesy of Design Miami Paris.

New York gallery R & Company dabbles in eye trickery with a sculpture appearing to show a shearling coat on a coat rack. It’s a classic piece of trompe l’oeil by Wendell Castle, an instrumental member of the art furniture movement of the 1970s. Other standouts come from the potter’s wheel of Roberto Lugo, whose ornamented ceramic vessels feature portraits of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bob Marley, and the boxer Evander Holyfield, among other cultural icons.

Left: Wendell Castle, Shearling Coat on Coat Rack mahogany sculpture (1978). Right: Bob Marley ceramic vase by Robert Lugo. Photos courtesy of R & Company.

Left: Wendell Castle, Shearling Coat on Coat Rack mahogany sculpture (1978). Right: Bob Marley ceramic vessel by Robert Lugo. Photos courtesy of R & Company.

Paris-based Galerie Kreo’s co-founders Clémence and Didier Krzentowski find themselves presenting on their home turf for a change. “Paris has a special place in the hearts of collectors,” they told Artnet. “Having Design Miami here means we are seeing our international clients at a key moment of the year.” The duo is exhibiting lamps by French designer Guillaume Bardet, whose furniture was recently selected for the soon-to-reopen Notre-Dame, as well as works by Jaime Hayon, Konstantin Grcic, Marc Newson, and vintage lemon-hued seating by Franco Albini.

Installation view of Galerie Kreo at Design Miami Paris. Photo: Alexandra de Cossette. Courtesy of Galerie Kreo.

Installation view of Galerie Kreo at Design Miami Paris. Photo: Alexandra de Cossette. Courtesy of Galerie Kreo.

Strengthening Franco-American relations is New York-based Demisch Danant, which specializes in 20th-century French design. The gallery is exhibiting a roster of key works from the 1950s through the ‘70s, celebrating some of the most significant works from the likes of modernist Michel Boyer and steel aficionado Maria Mergay.

Off-site shows include the opening of Pierre Yovanovitch’s eponymous gallery, launching with an exhibition of Asymmetry Chairs made in collaboration with artist Claire Tabouret. Salon 94—which is also exhibiting Max Lamb at the fair—debuts new pieces of sumptuous metalwork and “paint skins” by artist Kennedy Yanko.

Artist Tadashi Kawamata's <em>Nest</em> installation at Liaigre showroom during Design Miami Paris. Photo: Sylvie Becquet. Courtesy of Liaigre.

Artist Tadashi Kawamata’s Nest installation at Liaigre showroom during Design Miami Paris. Photo: Sylvie Becquet. Courtesy of Liaigre.

Finally, renowned Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata has conceived an eye-popping installation of cafe chairs cascading down the facade and throughout the interior of architecture studio Liaigre. But beware, weary fair-goers. These seats are not for sitting.


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