Design Miami, the five-day whirl of designers, curators and collectors, unfolded last winter in a ziggurat that, though made of tent material instead of stone, was more monument than big top as it anchored a corner of the Design District.
The sixth edition of the fair unfolds in a different time, space and place: With the design market on the uptick from a withering recession, the tent will be reinterpreted by a new team of architects and moved across the bridge to Meridian Avenue and 19th Street, within strolling distance of Art Basel Miami Beach’s home at Miami Beach Convention Center.
“Design Miami was growing out of the Design District, which forced us to think about moving,” says Miami developer Craig Robins, co-founder and principal. “We believe the move will help form a community of collectors equally interested in art and design. The move will allow for a free flow of people and ideas.”
Despite the fair’s departure, the Design District north of downtown is presenting a full slate of cultural programming that includes exhibitions, performance art and collection and studio tours. Several showrooms, such as Luminaire Lab, Poliform and Cappellini, are also presenting capsule collections of art and furnishings.
In many ways, Design Miami is a curated, international marketplace for limited-edition furnishings and accessories. It also serves as a forum, a setting to encourage designers and collectors to discuss the process, evolution and future of design.
Moorhead & Moorhead, an emerging New York-based design studio, was commissioned to create the show’s temporary home in Miami Beach. If in years past the challenge was to take ordinary materials and transform them, this year’s plan returns to the fair’s roots.
“We first wanted to embrace the existing form and structure of a typical tent, while manipulating or deconstructing its surface,” says co-founder Granger Moorhead.
“A series of full-scale vinyl mockups helped us to develop a pattern of cutting and folding, which allowed us to take the flat surface of the typical tent panel and transform it into an open volumetric latticework. We chose vinyl as a starting point . . . primarily as a way to celebrate the everyday tent.”
New York architects Aranda\Lasch created the tent’s interior, replacing the traditional trade-show grid with a “miniature city” based on patterns that encourage guests to explore.
In 2009, 14 galleries participated in Design Miami, which attracted about 20,000 visitors. This year, the fair’s 20 galleries include Barry Friedman Ltd., Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Cristina Grajales, D&A Lab, Galerie Kreo, Johnson Trading Gallery, Jousse Entreprise, Ornamentum, Perimeter Art + Design, R20 Century, Sebastian + Barquet, Seomi Gallery and newcomer Todd Merrill.
Design On/Site, tightly focused solo exhibits by designers or design studios, returns for the second year. The slate includes Caroline Van Hoek, Industry Gallery, Matter,
Stilwerk Limited Edition and Venice Projects.
German designer Konstantin Grcic has been named Design Miami’s 2010 Designer of the Year. Grcic, who specializes in industrial design, will create an outdoor installation called “Netscape” that features a star-shaped structure with suspended seating.
“I knew I wanted to create something special . . . something functional but also something that incorporated my ideas of what a space like Miami is like in December,” he says.
Grcic will also present a small exhibit of his works including “Blow Table for established & Sons” (2010), the “Miura Bar Stool for Plank” (2005) and “Tip Waste Bin for Authentics” (2003).
“When you place furniture on the floor, people try it out. When you put it in a display like this, it changes the context,” Grcic says. “We chose to display these 15 pieces in front of images of the studio as a way to invite people into our world. You see the ‘mess’ behind what we do but also the inspiration.”