Design Miami/ Basel 2021 – The fifteenth edition of the influential collectibles and design fair explores our relationships with the world around us in the wake of the Climate Change emergency and the pandemic crisis. “As it becomes increasingly clear that human-centric world views and approaches are no longer tenable, we want to explore how design offers possibilities for reimagining our relationship with non-human beings and intelligence in more viable ways.” Says Aric Chen, curator of Design Miami/ Basel.
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TUNING WITH NATURE’S RHYTHM
Superblue, Miami’s platform for visionary creatives, debuts in Basel with a multi-sensory experience. In the 2500 sqm Event Hall 1.0, Studio DRIFT has created a poetic, upside-down landscape of moving Shylights that perpetually bloom in mid-air, inviting visitors to contemplate natural rhythms and their soothing effect on our state of being. Sou Fujimoto’s Forest of Space is an elliptical pavilion conceived in response to Studio DRIFT’s installation, which recreates a dynamic forest that intervenes in the space and with the movement of visitors.
In nature, materials like wood, earth or rocks sediment marking the passing of time. From here, Cork-based Joseph Walsh Studio works with thin layers of natural materials to create airy sculptural objects. The studio’s ultimate creations – a sculpture, a table and a chair – encircle the visitors reconnecting with the time of Natural processes.
Rio de Janeiro gallery Mercado Moderno presents the slow design of Ines Schertel, translating the warmth of Brazil through the use of wool. “All of my work is hand made with 100% sheep wool. The magical process of making the fibers is that each piece is elaborated one by one, which is reflected in the unique kind result.” Says Ines Schertel.
SURREAL AND DYSTOPIC ENVIRONMENTS
“In response to our dystopian present, I took inspiration from the space-age aesthetic of the 60s and look toward the future,” says Harry Nuriev, who presents Silver Room. A surreal, silver living room environment is the backdrop for a new eco-leather collection of parametric furniture.
Peter Blake Gallery presents a site-specific installation by Germans Ermičs. The Dutch designer is known for wielding light, space, and color to catalyze a shift in how we perceive objects. In Basel, he navigates the subtleties of a monochromatic blue tint and its infinite shades juxtaposed by a shocking stroke of yellow.
With the Forbidden Fruit exhibition Nadja Zerunian explores how, through the centuries, fruits and plants have been associated with temptation, seduction and lust. Produced in collaboration with traditional Roma craftspeople in Transylvania and master artisans from Austria, Albania, Georgia and Romania, the exquisite objects invite us to revisit pre-formed cultural assumptions and prejudices.
RETHINKING THE PRESENT
Mathieu Lehanneur presents his State of the World project reflecting on the feeling of fragility and transience created by the pandemic worldwide. “From Europe to Asia or from America to Africa, the world has never reacted so synchronously to the possibility of death.” A landscape of anodized aluminum works arises from a three-dimensional population pyramid of different countries. Their black spined silhouettes derive their almost primitive shapes to demographic data provided by the United Nations.
At Gallery SCENE OUVERTE, designers see themselves as contemporary craftsmen or rather ‘engineers of the future.’ A miscellany of exuberant objects highlights an approach based on techniques of collage powered by DIY artisan techniques. The Blackhole Mirror by Atelier van Asseldonk is “somewhere between the parallel universe and the antiverse. A region of spacetime we can call ‘here,’ an event horizon we call Now.”
Swedish design duo FRONT teamed up with Moroso to create the Nature Furniture Collection. The series comprises a sofa and seats resembling pieces of landscapes, moss-covered rocks, mounds, snowdrifts, three-dimensional forms found in nature that suggest places for the human body to occupy. “We wanted the pieces to create the feeling that someone had lifted a whole glade from a forest with a gigantic shovel and moved it to a home.” Says Sofia Lagerkvist, co-founder and partner of Front.
Dr. Hauschka presents Symbiotic Habitat, an installation of unique works by the first fellows of Germany’s recently launched die DAS – Design Akademie Saaleck. Within an immersive, mycelium-wrapped space, the emerging talents’ objects dialogue with the innovative biomaterial backdrop. The collaborative space speaks to a shared, pioneering spirit, a commitment to sustainable, mindful living, and a dedication to crafting a healthy, symbiotic relationship with the natural world.
REKINDLING WITH THE PAST
Converso presents Americana, a major West Coast collection of exemplary early modern industrial objects amassed over 30 years. On show, rarest examples of industrial design production by canonical modern giants: radios, clocks, fans, hairdryers, waffle irons and harmonicas designed for mass consumption by the likes of Charles Eames, Alvar Aalto and Alexander Girard, alongside other designs produced by legendary early modern manufacturers such as Bendix, Kisco, Emerson, Motorola, and General Electric.
Milan-based Galleria Rossella Colombari celebrates its 40th anniversary with an autobiographical journey, narrated in first person by Rosella Colombari, of her career as a gallerist and pioneer of the 20th-century design market from the 1980s to today. The exhibition’s centerpiece is Alessandro Mendini’s Rotating Sculpture, awarded by the fair as the Best Historic Work.
Barcelona-based SIDE Gallery presents a retrospective of iconic works by Geraldo de Barros produced by the Unilabor furniture cooperative. Founded in 1954 by Geraldo de Barros with a Dominican Priest, Unilabor was intended as a new social model of factory, where workers and artists came together to realise a communitarian vision for production and society.
- All photos by James Harris, unless stated otherwise – Courtesy of Design Miami/ Basel 2021.