Design – The Golden Age is the theme curator Maria Cristina Didero chose the the sixteenth edition of DesignMiami/ Basel. With 18 Curio exhibitions, 34 galleries presentations and satellite installations, the fair explores a concept shared across cultures through time and space that relies on historical myths and imagines utopian futures.
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“Even during the hardest of struggles, as a society, we should always focus and strive to be better. We must remember that challenges have always driven humanity forward.” Says Maria Cristina Didero. “Human beings have come up with answers to the world’s most pressing questions, often during moments in which the very roots of our lives are being tested by external forces, over which it seems we have no control.”
With The Golden Age theme, Design Miami/ Basel “questions these ideas-exploring how the perseverance, flexibility, resilience and adaptability of humanity have led us to innovation and hope. We must continue this now more than ever.” We have selected eight exhibitions on show.
FAINA Gallery of Ukrainian-born Victoria Yakusha presents the Stepping on Ukrainian Soil exhibition celebrating Ukrainian heritage and artisanal craftsmanship through the language of modern design. The display’s center is a handwoven, 2.5-meter tapestry recalling the rich and dark Ukrainian soil. A series of primitive furniture in the shape of fictitious animals emerge in the form of handcrafted modern benches and stools. Hanging from the tapestry are long, umbilical-like strands that fall to the ground, representative of the primal connection of every Ukrainian to its land.
Todd Merrill Studio brings visitors into a dream-like world of fantastic furniture, recalling a lush underwater environment. They would fit perfectly in Atlantis’ contemporary interiors. Markus Haase created a series of bronze and luminous onyx sculptures inspired by algae. Dominick Leuci’s Eques series incorporates air-inflated metal forms with LED lighting. Yunhwan Kim presents a dynamic carved wood hanging cabinet, while Maarten Vrolijk’s large-scale glass vessels are studded with jewel-toned fragments. In the back, Alex Roskin’s casted-bronze console almost seems to melt on the floor.
New York City gallery Friedman Benda returns to Basel with two presentations: a setting inspired by Lewis Caroll’s Through The Looking Glass, as well as Misha Kahn’s first solo show at Design Miami/ Basel. The colourful, quirky and otherworldly pieces bring the past and the future together. For example, the large dual-sided mohair rug sees age-old hand-weaving techniques from South Africa and Eswatini invigorated with the provocations of VR technology. Kahn presents some of his best-known series – including the Mole Eats Worm colourful sofa – along with new works, such as the Space Race coffee table, which embodies the bombastic nature of cosmic tourism.
The Golden Age of Italian design began in the post-war. Galleria Rossella Colombari presents an exhibition featuring pieces by Gio Ponti, Pietro Fornasetti, Ignazio Gardella, Angelo Mangiarotti, Carlo Mollino and more. The fil rouge is an article by Gio Ponti dedicated to the use of color in furniture where he expressed the essentiality of the presence of brightly colored objects: “Colors are a gift and put blood into circulation.” The exhibition project is presented as an example of “harmonious distribution within domestic walls with a perfect balance between content, structural elements and prevalence of colour.” Explains Rossella Colombari.
Founded by Toshiya Hayashi and Hokuto Ando, We+ presents a primordial-looking new work produced using electrical copper wires covering the skies over Tokyo. The overall length of Tokyo’s electric wires is also said to be 2,400 km. Through this work, We+ looks at the origins of the relationship between humans and materials, using indigenous materials and simple manufacturing methods, and “we attempt to reconstruct a new perspective on how we interact with materials.”
Galerie Negropontes from Paris debuts in Basel with a selection of one-off and limited edition 21st-century decorative art pieces that master not only a variety of traditions but also design for the future. Gianluca Pacchioni displays his latest creations, demonstrating his skilled innovation in working with liquid metal and patina techniques. Erwan Boulloud explores form and function, with the Atacama console consisting of an organic figure top supported by machined, almost mechanical legs.
Despite all efforts, we continue to pollute the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. According to the WWF, we ingest around 5g of plastic per week. From here, Lanzavecchia + Wai selected a series of pollutants and encapsulated them inside a set of glass table objects. The effect is a still-life that reminds us of our relationship with the poisons we produce. “Poisons can be fascinating, harmful, intriguing, dangerous, attractive, repellent – but always lethal.” Said Lanzavecchia + Wai hoping that if we know and see, we can no longer remain passive. Presented by Particle, Singapore. “The new Golden Age begins from awareness.”
Parisian visual artist Marie Piselli reflects on humans’ ability to destroy the planet and themselves in the Let Light Be Curio exhibition. Two key objects inspired the installation: the chisel and the shield, translated into large-scale sculptures. The first represents our desire to break down society’s encysted codes; the latter rejects the metaphorical arrows we are shooting to destroy the environment. On display is also a jewelry collection.
Unless indicated otherwise, all photos by © James Harris – Courtesy of Design Miami/ Basel 2022.