MIAMI, USA - One of the most substantive and prominent forums for international design is Design Miami, an event that has been bringing together some of the most influential designers, collectors, curators, critics and dealers for the past seven years. This year, Design Miami took place from November 29 to December 4 in a custom structure near the Miami Beach Convention Centre and had plenty to offer: a captivating blend of culture and commerce, an outdoor pavilion created by this year's Designer of the Year, David Adjaye, and collaborations between fashion and design.
According to a statement on its website, the goal of Design Miami is to "not only satisfy the demand for a high-end design fair, but also to broaden awareness of modern and contemporary design, fuel the market for collectible design, and provide an exciting yet accessible destination for collectors and enthusiasts alike." Now in its seventh year, Design Miami takes place each December and June alongside Art Basel in Miami and Switzerland, respectively. Through its rigorous selection standards for exhibitors, Design Miami established itself as a primary biannual forum for quality design.
This year's show hosted 28 exhibitors (a 40% increase from last year) that showcased important 20th and 21st century design, as well as new works especially commissioned for the fair. Among the exhibitors were French architects of the 40's and 50's, Brazilian and Californian modern, Scandinavian mid-century, postmodern Italian design, and Korean craft. "Design Miami demonstrates the vast spectrum of collectible design objects," said Marianne Goebl, Director of Design Miami. The fair was a true sensory feast, with massive light sculptures, experimentation in form, texture and function, preeminent designers available for interviews on site, and a constant flurry of languages heard from one booth to another.
Besides showcasing a mix of historic and contemporary design, Design Miami awards the Designer of the Year. Each December, a diverse committee comprised of members who influence global design discourse, selects "an internationally renowned architect, designer, or studio whose body of work demonstrates unmatched quality, innovation and influence, while expanding the boundaries of design." David Adjaye made an impression with his unique application of materials, social agenda, and a reputation as an architect with an artistic sensibility. The award gave Adjaye the opportunity to design an outdoor pavilion for Design Miami. His creation combined structure, window, seating and doors in one single architectural gesture. Adjaye's projects include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, flood-resistant houses in New Orleans and he is currently involved in designing the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American Culture and History. Adjaye is definitely one of the hottest architects of today.
But Design Miami is more than an award, an array of booths in a convention centre, and a place to be seen. To complement and contextualize the work presented in participating galleries, the fair offered a program of satellite exhibitions, discussions and performances. The Design Talks series, moderated by Stefano Tonchi, Editor in Chief of W magazine, offered timely and interesting topics on design. This year's discussions had an architectural flavour, with participants such as Lord Norman Foster, Rafael de Cárdenas and Patricia Urquiola - all acclaimed architects - participating in discussions on "Modern Utopia" and "Crossing Lines".
David Adjaye's installation at the entrance
Design Miami's partners also actively contributed to the programming this year. Audi not only unveiled the Audi A2 concept car, but also designed a unique environment for it: a three-dimensional LED installation called "Urban Future" that changed colours underneath one's feet, created by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. Swarovski dazzled viewers with a serene crystal, light and music experience, as envisioned by Austrian born artist, Erwin Redl. Fendi returned to Design Miami with a design performance in collaboration with artist Sebastian Neeb and designer Elisa Strozyk. By actively participating in the fair, the three sponsors transitioned beyond the role of sponsor to a creative partner with a vision.
To top it off, Design Miami made a splash in several neighbourhoods across the city. The Miami Design District, known for its contemporary and traditional furniture showrooms, luxury retail spaces, antique dealers, and art galleries, hosted the "Architecting the Future: Buckminster Fuller & Norman Foster" exhibit. Uniting the two iconic creations for the first time in decades, the fair presented the restored 24-foot Fly's Eye Dome by Buckminster Fuller and a reconstructed Dymaxion 4 car by Lord Norman Foster in the pedestrian plaza of the Miami Design District. At the same time, The Wolfsonian-Florida International University showcased French industrial design and craft from the 1940's to today.
Fendi Design Performances ft. Elisa Strozyk
The plethora of design displays and activities attracted 29,000 attendees this year, a record number. Among them were a number of notable collectors, museum directors and personalities such as Zaha Hadid, Maja Hoffmann, Naomi Campbell, Oleg Baibakov, Sean Combs, Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld and Aby Rosen. Guests who were unable to travel to Miami this month, followed the show's developments as they were posted on the Design Miami blog from over 150 countries, thus participating in a truly global forum. With such a strong performance, it is once again clear that Design Miami is unparalleled in its ability to bring together renowned international designers and galleries to the unique intersection of commerce and culture. Mark your calendars for the next Design Miami show: December 4-9, 2012.
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