Fun Rules at Design Miami/Basel with Whimsical Furniture, Lamps, and Livable Sculptures

The international jet set should approve.

To celebrate its 10-year milestone, Design Miami/Basel’s 45 exhibitors brought their A-game to Art Basel this year.

Art and design connoisseurs from around the world flocked to the convention center across the street from the main fair to see the most monumental reiteration of the fair so far, which included 12 founding galleries.

The Miami edition focused its attention on whimsical furniture, lamps, and other livable, functional objects (or completely non-functional but beautiful objects), while this year’s Basel edition is less constricted by space. As a result, the fair provides a treasure trove of brightly-colored mobile homes, and other uniquely-designed dwelling spaces (See What Design Miami Has That Other Fairs Don’t).

The center’s ground floor plays host to the fair’s first “Design-at-Large” sector, which was curated by hotelier and entrepreneur André Balazs.

Walking into the exhibit felt more like entering a less flashy car show, dedicated to beautifully designed mobile homes. As many of these objects would never fit into the typical gallery booth, this felt like the sister to Art Basel’s “Unlimited” fair, which debuted the same day.

For those with nostalgia for the 1970s, you can live out the itinerant artist lifestyle à la Marina Abramović and Ulay’s Volkswagen adventures with a pea-green Type 2 camper van, complete with plaid resting quarters and a working stove and sink (above).


Atelier Van Lieshout. The Original Dwelling.
Photo: courtesy Design Miami/Basel.

Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris and London brought an incredible biomorphic abode by Atelier Van Lieshout called The Original Dwelling (above).

The white cavernous home resembled a hedonist’s fantasy; a suspended shower head floated outside, a carved crevice presented a perfectly-stacked bar, and a playroom and bedroom are illuminated by bubble-like windows. The structure itself could double as “nouveau” outdoor furniture.

Photo: artnet News.

Better Shelter prototype.
Photo: artnet News.

Adjacent to Original Dwelling is a 2015 prototype of an emergency shelter by Better Shelter, a Norwegian social company formed from a partnership between IKEA foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The innovative house is made from recyclable plastic, steel frame, and uses solar panels to provide renewable energy; the structure comes in a compact box that can be assembled in just four hours and lasts up to three years. Astoundingly useful, the Better Shelter home highlights why design is a necessity to us, where at most times, it may seem to be frivolous.

Photo: artnet News.

Eduard François’s Flower House.
Photo: artnet News.

When ascending the escalators to the gallery booth area, see visitors standing atop French architect Edouard François’s Flower House sipping champagne and looking into the titanium abyss. The architect describes the structure on the Design/Miami website as a “24-carat gold meteorite fallen from the sky in the center of the city of Basel.”

However, while its shiny yellow exterior draws you in, the practicality of the house seems to be lost once you enter its ill-lit interior. 

Photo: artnet News.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners/Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Photo: artnet News.

Inside the gallery-sized booths of the fair upstairs is a beautifully crafted demountable home by master architect Jean Prouvé, adapted by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners at Galerie Patrick Seguin.

Accessorized with round canister-like pods for its kitchen and bathroom, no inch feels unnecessary. Its kitchen comes with all the essentials: a sink, two stoves, a microwave, and plenty of cabinet space, while its bathroom housed in another spherical hull has a toilet, sink, and shower divided by small wooden curves .

These mobile, or easily assembled, homes above feel like vessels, transporting you toward unexpected possibilities by superbly marrying form and function. Below, see a slideshow of the innovative designs we came across during the preview.

View Slideshow
Jean Prouve house at Galerie Patrick Seguin.
Photo: artnet News.
Renate Muller at R & Company.
Photo: artnet News.
Bureau A Maidan presented by Swiss Architecture Museum.
Max Lamb at Dzek. Photo: artnet News.
TransForm Screen Confession Element by Karen Chekerdjian (2014) at Carwan Gallery.
Photo: Courtesy of Carwan Gallery and Karen Chekerdjian.
Ceiling lamp by Gio Ponti (late 1950s – early 1960s) at Nilufar Gallery.
Photo: courtesy of Nilufar Gallery.
design miami
Stool Coffee table by Shi Jianmin (2005) at Ammann gallery.
Photo: courtesy of Ammann gallery.
Table by BAHK Jong Sun (2014) at Seomi International.
Photo: courtesy of Seomi International HR.
LALA Surma by Dokter and Misses (2015) at Southern Guild.
Photo: courtesy of Southern Guild/ photographer David Ross.
Amethyst stone fossil AP1+AP2 by Nucleo (2015) at Ammann gallery.
Photo: courtesy of Ammann gallery.
design miami
Sculpture Table by Luiza Miller de Andrada (1970) at Magen H Gallery.
Photo: courtesy of Magen H Gallery.
design miami
Synthesis by Tom Price (2015) at Victor Hunt Designart Dealer.
Photo: courtesy of Jaroslav Moravec
Faceted Cabinet by Paul Evans (1970) at Galleria Rossella Colombari.
Photo: Courtesy of Galleria Rossella Colombari.
design miami
Ruffled by Dominic Harris (2014) at Priveekollektie Contemporary ArtDesign.
Photo: courtesy of Priveekollektie Contemporary Art Design, Ldesign.
design miami
Porcelain Catenary Arch with Yogi De Beer by Daniella Mooney (2014) at Southern Guild.
Photo: courtesy of Southern Guild/ Hayden Phipps.
design miami
Plant Sculpture by Harry Bertoia (1960) at Hostler Burrows.
Photo: courtesy of Hostler Burrows.
La Petite Fille a' La Corde by André Borderie, Pierre Szekely and Véra Szekely (1955) at Thomas Fritsch - Artrium.
Photo: courtesy of Nilufar Gallery.
From the Glitter (2015) at Seomi Interntaional.
Photo: courtesy of Seomi Interntaional.
Crapaud armchair by François-Xavier Lalanne (1968) at Jousse entreprise.
Photo: courtesy of Jousse entreprise.
3 x 3.5 x 3 2014 Mixed Media

Design Miami/Basel 2015 takes place from Jun 15-21, 2015 in Basel, Switzerland.

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