Design Miami/ 2014 Opens With New Local Designers, Modern Masters, and an Optical Illusion Room

This year's design fair during Art Basel Miami Beach featured experimental and playful installations.

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Complex Original

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What began 10 years ago as a small satellite fair for galleries focusing specifically on design, Design Miami/ has expanded to 35 booths this year, offering a range of the pieces that span from the grandfathers of design to new innovators. The fair's creator, Craig Robins, started Design Miami/ as a space for galleries that were overlooked by Art Basel Miami Beach to show their work. Today's version of the fair is one of the best places in the world to see the height of design. Thanks to Audi, who are sponsors of the fair and also have a booth at Design Miami/ 2014, we were able to tour the fair with Exhibition Manager Brandon Grom.

Grom told us that this year's fair saw an increase in American designers, and 2014 is the first time a local Miami gallery has been included. Based in Miami's Wynwood district, Gallery Diet is showing work by Miami-based sculptor and designer Emmett Moore. Moore's pieces for Design Miami/ 2014 are a playful take on typically discarded materials. He's made a coffee table out of beer cans, a whimsical shelf out of an old basketball, and a wooden screen from vintage magazine ads. The booth also includes a mural by a local street artist.


Besides American and local designers, another trend in this year's fair is a slew of pieces hailing from further south. As Cristina Grajales told us at her booth, "Latin America is hot right now." Her gallery is showing a white shelf and chest by Chilean-born and New York-based designer Sebastian Errazuriz that brilliantly transform as their parts are shifted back and forth. The booth also includes hand-crafted chairs that are tattooed by an Amazonian tribe designed by Pedro Barrail, who hails from Paraguay. The floor of the booth is covered by a golden carpet created by Hechizoo​ Textiles in Colombia.


One staple in design that seems to be on the rise again is ceramics. Although pottery has never gone out of style in the East, the recent popularity of the maker movement has caused more collectors to pay attention to ceramic artists in the U.S. Gallery Seomi's booth includes a collection of clever couches and chairs made from glazed clay instead of plush upholstery. Los Angeles-based gallery Edward Cella is exhibiting work by Adam Silverman, a 51-year-old potter whose colorful vases are glazed multiple times with imperfect finishes that reveal his careful process.


Along with all the contemporary designers, Design Miami/ 2014 also includes the legends of the design field, bringing in museum-quality pieces from some of the most famous designers of all time. Galerie Patrick Seguin has re-created university housing designed by the mainstays in modern design. The booth has been transformed into mid-20th century dorm rooms designed by Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, and Le Corbusier.


From contemporary to traditional, Design Miami/ brings high-quality pieces that give a broad overview of the best work in the design field. The most popular area this year is made up of two booths that stand across from each other, crowding the aisles with smartphone-wielding spectators. Studio Job's exhibition at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, titled "Landmark" includes irreverent clocks made from a mish-mash of iconic buildings. In one, a jewel-studded King Kong scales the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which rests above Jordan's ancient Petra. Across from this booth sits one of the Design Curio projects, which allows less established designers to come up with experimental booths, by Patrick Parrish Gallery. Focusing on the designer's obsession with the grid, Minneapolis-based studio ROLU stripped away every other element to create furniture and sculptures made up of black lines. When you walk through the booth, which is covered in gridded wallpaper, it's like being inside an optical illusion.

Patrick Parrish's booth falls into a theme that's apparent throughout many of the galleries in Design Miami/ 2014: a sense that none of them take themselves too seriously. From Moore's recycled materials to Studio Job's ostentatious clocks to even the re-created dorm rooms at Patrick Seguin, all of these booths exhibit a sense of playfulness that's a refreshing change from other stuffy fairs during Art Basel Miami Beach.


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