What Design Miami Has That Other Fairs Don’t

Iceberg tables and life-size Peter Marino statues are just the start.

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Gallery Seomi
Photo: Cait Munro
A work by the Haas Brothers at R and Company
Photo: Cait Munro
Pierre Marie Giraud
Photo: Cait Munro
Southern Guild
Photo: Cait Munro
Coral Morphologic
Photo: Cait Munro
Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Photo: Cait Munro
Gallery Diet
Photo: Cait Munro
Patrick Parrish Gallery
Photo: Cait Munro
Jeanne Gang in collaboration with Swarovski, Thinning Ice, inspired by the work of James Balog.
Photo: Cait Munro
mischer'traxler in collaboration with Champagne Perrier-Jouet, ephemera.
Photo: Cait Munro

Where can you draw the line between design and fine art? At what point should function actually trump form? And what would it be like to live life surrounded by nothing but beautiful, functional objects? These are just some of the questions that a visit to Design Miami’s 10th edition might inspire.

From a series of fluffy, horned sculptures by art and design world darlings the Haas Brothers at New York’s R & Company (see “artnet Asks The Haas Brothers“) and Coral Morphologic’s psychedelic booth of coral-inspired film and design objects to the Marina Abramovic Institute’s pop-up rice counting station, there’s something for everyone, and not all of it is “design” in the traditional sense of tables and chairs.

Better yet, Design Miami presents something even the best art fairs don’t often have. Each booth truly feels like its own highly curated environment. The fair’s dealers have put in an immense amount of effort to create distinct booth experiences that will stick with visitors. Blending in isn’t an option. And, for viewers, the trick keeps fairtigue well at bay

Design Miami is unapologetically corporate-driven. There are booths sponsored by Fendi, Swarovski, and Perrier-Jouet as well as a giant Audi parked in the middle of the hall. You can’t turn around without seeing a brand name. But rather than making the fair feel as if it’s a sell out, these brand’s healthy coffers allow their boots to stand apart as some of Design Miami’s most innovative.

Swarovski commissioned architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang to create iceberg-like tables featuring large holes, which are studded with massive crystals to recall the melting polar ice caps. On the walls, filmmaker James Balog has created an immersive experience with film footage of the Austrian Alps. The effect is a bit heavy handed, but it does take you out of the fair, transporting you to another environment entirely.

Perrier-Jouet’s booth also has a natural theme. Design duo mischer’traxler created a delicate, mechanical garden that’s constantly in flux. It’s charming, experiential, and certainly more whimsical than Gang’s work.

But, inaugural Design Visionary Award winner Peter Marino’s curated booth is Design Miami’s true must-see, mainly because it features a hilariously creepy life-size sculpture of the architecture and design luminary. After all, what good is any fair without a few startled laughs?


Go to artnet News’s Art Basel in Miami page for the latest coverage, including:

Overheard at the VIP Preview of Art Basel in Miami Beach

Art Basel in Miami Beach: The Definitive Sales Report

What To Buy? See These Top 10 Booths at Art Basel in Miami Beach

Art Basel in Miami Beach 2014 is a Rip-Roaring Success


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