Art Basel Miami Beach 2013: Design Miami

Formlessfinder designed the giant pile of sand at the entrance to the 2013 Design Miami fair.

Every year, Design Miami/ presents a pedigreed showcase of 20th and 21st century furniture, lighting and objets d’ art from around the world.

But this year, the curated selection draws a bit of its inspiration close to home: Miami’s distinct DNA – its architectural modern style, tropical landscape, whimsical energy – are celebrated in several presentations, including the fair entrance fashioned from sand, an exhibit of outdoor furnishings perfect for an afternoon on the beach, and an exhibition exploring the mangrove ecosystem.

“The Miami theme came together organically. Some of the galleries married Miami with their collections,’’ says Marianne Goebl, director of Design Miami/. “It was not something that was actively triggered, just something in the air that the designers took and developed differently.’’

The 2013 edition of Design Miami/ — now in its ninth year, the third in Miami Beach — includes 37 presenters of modern and contemporary collectible designs. Six of those are solo shows. “This is our biggest show to date, in number of exhibitors and total surface area,” Goebl said.

The fair has shifted some of its focus from recognizing a renown architect, designer or studio to emerging talents.

“We decided we wanted to emphasize the newer talents, which we focus on through commissioning an early-career architect to design a space for our entrance to the fair,’’ she says. “It’s more meaningful if we can shed light on someone early in the career where the recognition can make a difference.’’

This year’s entrance is designed by Formlessfinder, an architecture studio based in New York.

Design Miami/ is both an international marketplace of collectibles and a forum for the discipline of design, offering a platform for museum-quality works and a broad slate of cultural programming, panels and lectures. Among the gems this year: a pre-fabricated house that is full scale, and on the other end of the spectrum, tiny pieces of jewelry in stone, gold and refuse.

In the contemporary track, women in design are represented with works by Parisian stainless steel furniture designer Maria Pergay, architect and designer Johanna Grawunder, Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius and German toymaker Renate Müller.

Nods to 20th century design include a house by Jeane Prouvé from 1944 – exhibited publicly for the first time – by Galerie Patrick Seguin. One would think the logistics of installing a 650-square-foot home would be daunting, but the French designer and metalworker – inspired by the need to provide housing for WWII refugees – created an easy-to-assemble modular design.

“It is a precursor of the prefab house. In 1944 it was a pretty innovative way to build,” Goebl said.

Also, Galerie Downtown is presenting a rich collection of works by pioneering French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand, who made a significant mark in early 20th century modern movement, at the fair. As part of the homage, Perriand’s ”La Maison au bord de l’eau” — house at the edge of the water — designed as a simplistic vacation home will be transformed from concept to structure for the first time, thanks to Louis Vuitton. The home will be presented at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach.

Martha Stewart – herself a fan of Prouvé’s designs – will be among the featured speakers at the show’s popular DesignTalks series, participating in a conversation with W Magazine editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi. Architect Richard Meier, whose portfolio of iconic works includes the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary, will give the keynote Design Talks conversation.

“Our mission is to showcase both relevant design history positions and what is happening now,’’ Goebl says. “That journey has many moments of surprise.’’

Miami’s moment starts with the fair’s signature entrance, commissioned each year from a promising architect early in his or her career. Formlessfinder presents Tent Pile, a pavilion that unexpectedly harnesses the properties of sand and aluminum to form an outdoor community lounge.

In researching ideas for the entrance, architects Julian Rose and Garrett Ricciardi focused on Miami through the golden sands of the beaches and its architecture, a kind of tropical post-war modernism distinguished by the blur of indoor/outdoor spaces.

The result: a striking aluminum roof perched on the tip of a pyramid of sand.

“The goal was to really create an experience, a public space for people to hang out, whether they are coming to the fair or just happened to walk by,’’ Goebl says. “It will be a really functioning open space and our first that pays true homage to Miami.’’

Among the other inspired-by-Miami presentations:

Paris’ Galerie BSL presents “Here Comes the Sun,” a Miami Beach-inspired cabana with works by several international designers including Faye Toogood, Ayala Serfaty, Nacho Carbonell and Djim Berger.

New York gallery R 20th Century curated a seating exhibition at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden by Brazilian designer-craftsman Hugo Franca. The seating is carved from giant Pequi trees from the Brazilian rainforest.

Mark McDonald is presenting a solo show of works by furniture designer Walter Lamb, who launched his outdoor collections through experimenting with bronze and copper tubing salvaged from sunken Naval ships at Pearl Harbor.

Swarovski Crystal Palace, an official sponsor, presents Mangue Grove, a project created by Brazilian designer Guilherme Torres. It is made of crystal and reclaimed wood inspired by mangroves of Brazil and Miami.