9 Fascinating Objects at Design Miami 2016
Find art you can really live with at Design Miami.
Amid the glittery spectacle that is Miami Art Week, Design Miami offers a refreshing palate cleanser. Where flash and color can threaten to overwhelm at some of the other fairs, the name of the game is more often refined elegance at Design Miami, where dealers aim to offer real design objects that collectors can make part of their homes.
To that end, the general art fair rule of no touching goes out the window, giving visitors the chance to open intricately decorated cabinets, try on ornate necklaces, and even get off their feet and test out any number of unique chairs and couches.
Where so much of what is for sale at a typical art fair seems destined for some uber-wealthy collector’s freeport storage locker, Design Miami offers art for the real world. Sometimes, it seems like we’d have to have our own private museum in order to take home the showstopping works on view at Art Basel in Miami Beach.
Here, price tags aside, we couldn’t help imagining an interior design overhaul of our own apartments, courtesy of some of the fabulous objects displayed by Design Miami’s 35 exhibitors. Here are ten object you can catch at the fair that we wouldn’t kick out of our own homes, to say the least.
1. R & Company
It was hard to limit ourselves to one favorite at the fabulous booth from the New York gallery. From the Haas Brothers alone there was a captivating eight-foot-long, hand-carved, monolithic walnut table; a brand new line of quirky silverware to literally hold hands with; and an assortment the duo’s signature “Lil’ Him” sculptures—delightfully-fluffy and huggable creatures weighed down by heavy bronze hands and feet.
Our favorite discovery, however, was Katie Stout’s empowering feminist table lamps, bold ceramic pieces featuring unabashed, matter-of-fact nudity. In one, the female figure stands on her head supporting the lampshade with her feet, the power cord protruding humorously from between her legs and out of her mouth.
2. Carpenters Workshop Gallery
In a booth full of gorgeous, elegant designs, we couldn’t help being drawn to the glitzy kitsch of Studio Job’s Monkey Business, a gilded bronze jewelry box. Sitting astride the chest was a sculpture of a circus monkey in a jaunty red hat, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. This charming little fellow could also be paired with a lamp shaped like a banana being unpeeled.
“What we do is sculptural design,” gallery global director Cedric Morisset told artnet News of the booth’s unifying principle.
3. Porky Hefer Swing Chairs
A clear crowd favorite were Porky Hefer’s imaginative, animal-inspired swing chairs. Guests couldn’t get enough of the two designs, which allowed them to take a seat inside the giant bill of a pelican, or climb inside a piranha’s mouth.
Full of wit and whimsy, the chairs were comfortable, albeit somewhat difficult to get into while wearing fashionable art fair attire, and spoke directly to our inner child.
4. Salon 94
A decade of Gaetano Pesce‘s work makes a striking statement at the fair, with gorgeous colorful cabinets and deceptive-looking vases that appear to be made of ceramic, but are of a flexible resin, and are actually soft to the touch. Make sure to take a peek inside our favorite, the cheerful Face Cabinet, and enjoy the golden ceramics secreted within.
5. Plusdesign Gallery
From the fair’s Curio section, Plus Design sets the tone for its presentation “Streetscapes” with an altogether peculiar piece called Citronnier Au Laurier by MM Paris. Ostensibly an end table of sorts, the colorful piece is adorned with adjustable mirrors, with lemons serving to mark all of the joints.
Our favorites, however, were inside, where William West defies expectations with his “Making Relics, right here, right now” series. He has meticulously crafted marble cases for gas cans and other plastic containers, encasing the lightweight originals inside hefty stone cases that he’s made appear all but seamless upon first look.
6. Jason Jacques Gallery
There’s a sense of magic in Finnish artist Kim Simonsson’s ceramic “Mossboy” sculptures, tiny figures wearing feathered headdresses and coated in velvet flocking that could almost be the mythical Children of the Forest of Game of Thrones. That feeling is only heightened by their surroundings, large wooden rooms designed by Digifabshop that recall tree houses.
“We always try to do something crazy,” the gallery’s Donald Gajadhar told artnet News, noting that the unique display cases could be configured to serve as a child’s playhouse or a sauna.
7. Friedman Benda
If you’re looking for a dining room set that doubles as an unparalleled conversation piece, look no further than Christopher Schanck, who has created a stunning table and chairs. The bold, architectural pieces are coated in a super fine foil that reveals every nook and cranny of their original surfaces (the table is cheap OSB wood), now smooth to the touch thanks to a glossy finish.
When artnet News asked him if the piece was meant to invoke a Bladerunner-esque dystopian future, Schanck explained his inspiration: “We’re in Detroit and just surrounded by crumbling infrastructure,” he said. “That future is now.”
8. Ornamentum Gallery
Antique silver trays take on new life after being purchased on eBay by Jaden Moore, who carefully saws them apart and fuses them back together again in new forms that take on an unexpected organic quality. His largest work to date, Gather, is an undeniable showstopper.
9. Strand Garden
For the fifth year in a row, the fair has partnered with Maison Perrier-Jouët, this year with a captivating lounge space by Andrew Kudless. For his inspiration, the San Francisco designer drew on the brand’s collection of French Art Nouveau, the largest in private hands.
“Andrew’s philosophy is digital craft,” Perrier-Jouët style director Axelle de Buffevent told artnet News.
To that end, Kudless has culled delicate glowing forms, formed from paper-thin oak veneer, surrounding a more substantial looking 3-D printed table. On top (of course) sits a bucket of Perrier-Jouët champagne, also 3-D printed, but from dried, powdered chardonnay grape skins made into a paste and then hardened with resin. The product of a great deal of trial and error, it’s an impressive demonstration of where craft is going in the 21st century, and ethereally beautiful to boot.
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