Lindsey Adelman

Design Miami/Basel 2019

Fair Review

Design Miami this year was a mature fair. The benchmark in international collectible design fairs with all the “usual” mid-century design names and collectible galleries present except a few noticeable absentees; R &Company, Gallery Fumi and David Gill. The latter have been absent from the fair for several editions now and we all wonder why this absence?

Is it fair fatigue or is it that few established design galleries are finding it too challenging to do all the major international design shows now that big fair organisations have entered this market, like Tefaf with a New York edition and a good design content, or PAD. Other smaller fairs such as Nomad, a young but very sharp design fair are branching out, from Monaco to St Moritz, and soon Venice? (DeTnk will investigate and let you know more in the next coming months).

Design Miami, the oldest of these fairs has developed into a very well organised showcase machine with a high quality talks programme and outreach beyond the design community. Probably wanting to connect with the art crowd that constitutes the main attraction of its’ mother company and main shareholder, Art Basel fair and MCH Group.

As one would expect, the places and booths are “expensive” for galleries in terms of the price per square meter, nearly as expensive as the next door art fair. Exhibitors are still exhibiting “furniture” which will never command prices like contemporary or modern art. The galleries, for a long time competing to show on this new international platform, are now courted by others to join new design fairs and international showcases. The competition is becoming present in the field of Design fairs, and the good news, the quality of these fairs is benefitting.

So Design Miami as the leader in the field is becoming “blue-chip” to the detriment of a now settling feeling of “the expected”, or more bluntly: lack of novelty or discovery. This is not to say that the quality of the exhibits, the galleries and what is on show is digressing. On the contrary, the quality this year is more than ever exceptional and unique, yet showing the usual: mid-century Nordic, Italian Modern and an infinity of Jean Prouve, Pierre Jeanneret and Jean Royere. These are mainly concentrated in the specialised galleries that started these collectible trends respectively: Galerie Patrick Seguin, Jousse Entreprise and Jacques Lacoste. In contrast this balances out with the major galleries who are supporting contemporary talents, like Galerie Kreo in Paris and London, or Friedman Benda in New York.

One other interesting contemporary gallerist is Philippe Gravier from Paris who each year features a furniture show of limited edition pieces designed by a brilliant contemporary architect. This year, splashes of colourful tables by Odile Decq stand out not only from the black background of the display (typical Odile) but also from the unique and creative initiative of Gravier who, to our opinion is truly following a commendable curatorial path with his programme and special projects commissioning some more brilliant architects. Past collections of Gravier include projects by Sou Fujimoto, Claude Parent and Rudy Ricciotti and international masters like Kengo Kuma.

The Design Curio Programme and the Designer of the Future Awards which have taken place since 2015,now with the fabulous support of Nadja Swarovski of the eponymous Austrian brand, are great additions to the Fair. This year, the most interesting visual and creative proposals to a keen design collector’s eye are the Arctic Collection by Studio Klarenbeek & Dros, which uses 3D printing crystal technology developed by Swarovski. Beautiful, cleaver and functional, we expect it to be very commercial with shapes that emulate Zaha Hadid’s early projects with Swarovski themselves or the shapes of Olafur Eliasson’s light and vase by Daniel Libeskind, both made in collaboration with Sawaya & Moroni some time ago.

The most interesting stands of the Design Curio programme (the ‘discovery’ element of the fair with new galleries showing a single designer’s showcase) this year is the fabulous display of Lyndsey Adelman and her amazing organic hand-blown glass with a beautiful dark shade wallpaper in the background by Calico from Brooklyn.

One other brilliant initiative by Design Miami, called Design At Large, a series of installations on the ground floor of the fair, running now for three years, is becoming a great place to discover site-specific and specially commissioned projects. This year one of the best was the installation of garden pods inspired by Brazilian bird nests design by Mameluca Studio, Rio-de-Janeiro-based designers, presented by Mercado Moderno gallery, amongst others.

Odile Decq
Odile Decq
Rosella Colombari
Rosella Colombari
Abet Laminati
Abet Laminati
Studio Klarenbeek & Dros
Studio Klarenbeek & Dros
Mercado Moderno Manimal
Mercado Moderno Manimal
Stuart Parr Collection
Stuart Parr Collection



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