Human Nature is the common thread of Design Miami \ Basel 2021. An edition with an inevitably smaller participation - 46 galleries, mostly European, and 14 Curio, i.e. small galleries or designer-artists - but a version with a more curatorial selection, as the next edition of the same collectible design fair in Miami will be (1-5 December 2021). “The theme of Human Nature”, explains Arich Chen, curator of Design Miami, “asks how we might rethink the relationship between humans, nature and human nature. The question of sustainability and planetary survival is not only technical, but also cognitive, cultural and philosophical. As it becomes increasingly clear that human-centred worldviews and approaches are no longer tenable, we want to explore how design offers possibilities for reimagining our relationship with non-human beings and intelligences in more viable ways”. Thus, many designers have artistically explored the relationship with craft techniques and digital technologies, the relationship with traces of the man-made environment and the diversity of local cultures, even those that are disappearing.
Shy Synchrony, Studio Drift
Studio Drift's Shy Synchrony installation extends through the large ground floor lobby. It is a work inspired by the movement of plants as they respond to the circadian rhythm of alternation of sun and moon. “Our intention”, explains Floor Van Eekeren of Studio Drift, “is to connect the visitors and the space on the same frequencies and give the space, that usually is static, a movement that recalls the sense of time”. The frequencies of the moving fabric corollas move to the rhythm of Philip Glass’s music and the hemicycle of wooden seats designed by Sou Fujimoto. Shylights was produced by Design Miami with Superblue, the new “Experiential Art Center” in Miami.
Rick Owens x Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Monolithic, monochromatic and sculptural. In line with his fashion work, Rick Owens has designed a collection of beds and chairs for the Carpenters Workshop Gallery that aims to establish a connection between Brutalist architecture, Minimalism and Modernism. The gigantic bed was conceived with life partner and artist Michele Lamy, who also created a performance. It reflects the gallery's search for objects that privilege sculptural and formal research, taking the experimentation with materials and craft techniques to the extreme. Project for the Design at Large section.
Studio Mumbai x Maniera
In both architecture and the design studio, Mumbai starts by studying local techniques and craftsmanship, which it translates into its workshop in Mumbai. For Maniera, a gallery that works only with established international architects, it has created a collection of seats made of slender bamboo stalks tied with silk threads. The stalks create structures reminiscent of the shelving used in construction, giving that engineering language a poetic and light image. The seat is finished with the Japanese urushi lacquering technique.
State of the World, Mathieu Lehanneur
The Pandemic has awakened our consciousness of being fragile and transient. Simultaneously, across the world people were dying. Mathieu Lehanneur (project for the Design at Large section) captured the world in an instant and translated it into three-dimensional objects - made in 3D printing, in the rotational shapes he is familiar with - that show population figures in over 100 countries around the world. "State of the World is a reminder to those who are still alive and part of a bigger story," explains Lehanneur.
More-So makes its debut at Design Miami Basel. It is Moroso's new brand - named by Ron Arad - which focuses on experimental collaboration with designers and artists. For its first collection, it has chosen the studio Front, which has developed a limited edition of eight pieces padded with 3D-milled polyurethane. The fabric is designed to adapt to the irregular shape of the seats, and parts of the fabric are hand-embroidered after assembly. The fabric's patterns are reminiscent of the wooded landscapes of the north. “More-So”, says Patrizia Moroso, “opens up great prospects, because it will allow us to investigate themes and objects that do not necessarily have to become serial products”.
Growing with You, Tatiana Bilbao
From former curator of Design Miami to gallery owner in Mexico City. Rodman Primack presents himself for the first time with young Ago Projects, which aims to commission projects from Mexican designers and artists or those willing to engage with the local cultural and craft heritage. Among them is Tatiana Bilbao with Growing with You, a collection of versatile, concentric modules that adapt to different purposes and spaces. Sculptural objects that aim to “humanise” the built environment with natural materials such as wood, copper and Mexican lava stone, creating a space for contemplation.
Awarded the title of “Ambassador of historic design”, Rossella Colombari presents, alongside rare pieces from the 1950s by Carlo Mollino and Mario Gottardi, an evocative and gigantic rotating sculpture, designed and made of wood by Alessandro Mendini in 1997 for Elio Fiorucci's store in Verona. A unique object that has won him the Best of Show award at this year's edition of Design Miami Basel.
Stratus, Markus Haase
Stratus is a large-scale work by Markus Haase that will be permanently placed in a new residential building at 555 West 22nd Street in New York. Over 10 metres long and 2.5 metres wide, the suspended sculpture is made of bronze, onyx and LEDs set with jewel-like finesse. Haase carves each circular shape in foam before using a self-developed casting technique that destroys the original mould, making each form unique.
Jean Royere x Galleria Patrick Seguin
Patrick Seguin Gallery traces a furniture collection consisting of a bed, sideboard, wardrobe and coffee table by interior designer Jean Royere, made in one-off pieces for a private flat in the 1950s. The collection is made with masterfully crafted and decorated inlaid straw panels. It has an amazing material and shiny texture, in a perfect state of preservation.
Design Miami opens its new e-commerce platform DMBX: a project that already brings together some 60 galleries around the world and around a hundred self-producing designers whose pieces do not exceed $2,500. The selection of designers is a genuine talent scouting operation. Among them is Laura Sattin, from Venice but based in Basel, who presents two collections of glass vases, combining techniques for juxtaposing and encasing blown glass of different colours that sometimes appear separate, sometimes combined. The platform's intention is to bring a younger, mid-range audience closer to collectible design.