Faena Forum site visit with the Argentine real estate developer Alan Faena who commissioned OMA and Foster + Partners for his ambitious project.

Impressions of Design Miami

Anne France Berthelon December 2015
The fact Yves Behar received the Design Miami/ 2015 Design Visionary Award for his humanitarian projects ('One Laptop Per Child', and 'See Better to Learn Better'), and that this year's entrance pavilion was created by Harvard GSD architecture students who recycled their peers’ unrealized buildings, are just two indications that this 11th edition of Design Miami focussed less on the bling side of the (limited-edition) design market. Some inspiring impressions.
El Sol, Fernando Romero Enterprise (FR-ER) for Swarovski.


A geodesic structure, one billion times smaller than the sun, composed of 2880 custom-made crystals. The Mexican architect Fernando Romero, commissioned by Swarovski, may claim to have taken his inspiration from the sacred geometry used by the ancient Aztecs and Mayas. El Sol actually evokes rather an XXL orange disco ball. One feeling obviously reinforced by a pure selfie accessory, provided to VIP visitors: a small crystal in a magnetic plastic frame, which added to any phone camera created a prism kaleidoscopic effect.
Half Rainbow, Karen Chekerdjian @ Carwan Gallery


After or before the sun, The Rainbow: not only did the weather play with the nerves of Art Basel Miami Beach / Design Miami organizers, tropical storms acting as unexpected hosts in parties and outdoor installations this year, they definitely also seem to have provided inspiration for designers. Hence, Beyrouth based Carwan Galery presented for the first time in the US its Rainbow series, among other limited editions from Lebanese designer Karen Chekerdjian.
Unbuilt Harvard GSD Pavilion, photo James Harris.


Is it upcycling the future of architecture (which, by the way, is "a branch of design" according to Paola Antonelli who was MC of a talk at Airbnb platform 'Belong. Here. Now.' about hybridity)? Yes, for sure. If we consider this year’s Design Miami pavilion, designed for the first time by a team of Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Joanne Cheung, Doug Harsevoort, Steven Meyer, Jenny Shen and Yiliu Shen-Burke), consisting of 200 pink flamingo CNC foam architecture models of unrealized student projects hanging on steel rods, looking from afar like a loose pixelated grid structure. Impossible though, not to think of the 'Vacant NL' installation in the Dutch Pavilion by Ronald and Erik Rietvelt as seen at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010 ...
Fragments, Lex Pott x Calico Wallpaper @ The Future Perfect.


As part of the Design Curio section (an updated version of Renaissance 'cabinets of curiosity'  launched last year at Design Miami), the NYC design space The Future Perfect presented Fragments - an immersive display of Dutch designer Lex Pott’s new furniture in blue stone, framed by a custom handmade gradient Calico’s Wallpaper, hand-painted on-site. We‘d love to think that after the rise (and fall?) of the star-designer and his\her matching XXL ego here comes the shared- project (if not economy) one!
Black Gold, Quintus Kropholler @ Chamber (NYC)


In an attempt to create time-capsule objects for the post oil era, Dutch designer Quintus Kropholler explored an unconventional use of asphalt bitumen (an amalgam of gravel and tar) to create conceptual yet functional objects such as a book holder, a low table, a folding screen and a mirror.
Oribe, Kengo Kuma @ Philippe Gravier


One of the major Design Miami buzzwords this year has undoubtedly been "pavilion craze", echoing Jasper Morrison's, Konstantin Grcic' and Naoto Fukasawa’s Muji Huts which were unveiled a few months ago at Tokyo Design Week. Not only did Galerie Patrick sold in Miami the only surviving Jean Prouvé 4x4 Demountable House, originally designed to house French officers during World War II for $2 million to a private European collector; gallery Philippe Gravier exhibited a few meters ahead a temporary mobile tea room designed by Kengo Kuma made from corrugated plastic board.
Belong. Here. Now, Airbnb x Design With Company


In collaboration with Chicago-based architecture practice Design with Company, Airbnb provided one of the most unpretentious satellite events of Design Miami. Named 'Belong. here. now', this interactive outdoor space inspired by the concept of the Greek agora, hosted among others performances of Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi and British-Nigerian designer Yinka Ilori.
Windy Chair, Yinka Shonibare @ Carpenters Workshop Gallery


With his hand-painting yet digitally-modified 'Dutch wax' (the iconic batik African fabric) patterns on a sculptural aluminium chair, Yinka Shonibare - who grew up in both Great Britain and Nigeria and describes himself as a "post-colonial" hybrid - questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions.
Fiona Blackfish, Porky Hefer @ Southern Guild Gallery, photo Justin Patrick


One of the six animal-shaped hanging chairs created by South African designer Porky Hefer (currently exhibited in Cape Town - 'Monstera Deliciosa' until 5th February 2016), the killer-whale leather and sheepskin Fiona Blackfish was brought to Miami by the dynamic and successful Southern Guild Gallery. A nature & craft statement as well as functional piece, and a selfies’ best friend !
Cangaço, Campana Brothers @ Firma Casa


Exhibiting for the first time at Design Miami, the São Paulo-based gallery Firma Casa presented the new limited edition by the Campana Brothers. Inspired by over-decorative parade costumes of the Cangaceiros, Brazilian dandy-bandits who were active in the North-Eastern part of the country in the late 19th and early 20th century, these six pieces multi-coloured, stitched and embossed furniture collection was crafted in collaboration with 70 years old leather maestro Espedito Seleiro.
Fendi new flagship in Miami Design District


Designed by designer and architect Joanna Grawunder, the new Fendi flagship opened in Miami Design District on December 2nd. With its distinctive fluo orange colonnade reminiscent of Kyoto’s most famous temple and its colour-blocked façade, the store is the last addition of Design District 'statement buildings' such as Sou Foujimoto’s Palm Court gallery walkway, Buckminster Fuller's Dome or Konstantin Grcic’s Netscape swings chairs.