Design Miami Makes a Stylish Return

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What’s art without design? The two pursuits go hand in hand, and when Design Miami began five years ago, it was the perfect compliment to Art Basel Miami Beach. The two fairs work in harmony, but this year, Design Miami takes the lead by starting a day earlier than its bigger brother. Featuring modern and contemporary design objects from dealers from around the world, as well as solo displays, satellite exhibitions, pop-up shows, panel discussions, performances, and the designer of the year award, Design Miami transforms the already vital Miami Design District into the go-to place for international design enlightenment.

View a slideshow of images from Design Miami 2009 now »

The 2009 edition of Design Miami boasts 17 galleries from New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Geneva, Seoul, and other cultural capitals in a dynamic, ziggurat structure designed by ArandaLasch. Dutch contemporary design is omnipresent, with Geneva’s Mitterrand+Cramer and Rotterdam’s VIVID Gallery offering new work by the talented Studio Job; Amsterdam, New York, and Tokyo-based Droog bringing Pieke Bergmans’ Crystal Virus Massive Infection table, permanently burned by freshly blown glass vases, and Tejo Remy’s strapped together drawers that create a dresser; and New York’s Moss presenting the new Casablanca cabinet by rising star Maarten Baas, who is featured throughout the fair as the designer of the year.

New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery makes its first appearance at a design fair with surreal work by seasoned Swiss designer Mattia Bonetti, who just joined the gallery and is slated for a solo show there in February, and Seoul’s Seomi & Tuus treats the audience to a rare view of finely crafted contemporary Korean ceramics. Meanwhile, classic modernist furniture is on view at New York’s R 20th Century, which presents Joaquim Tenreiro’s 1969 Loose Mantle Armchair and Jose Zanine’ s Solid Wood Dining Table from 1970, and New York’s Sebastian + Barquet displays Don Shoemaker’s stylish 1965 wood chair, which resembles a minimal art sculpture.

Design Performances premieres the collaboration between fashion house Fendi, techno-design pioneer Moritz Waldemeyer, and rock band OK Go. Waldemeyer has tricked-out the band’s guitars with laser lights, LEDs, and fragments of Fendi fashions, and worked with digital artist Memo Akten to make the instruments visually act like paintbrushes constructing abstract marks. Other extravaganzas in the main building include Arik Levy’s newly commissioned pieces for HSBC Private Bank’s Designer Lounge and Swarovski Crystal Palace’s massive installation by architect Greg Lynn that utilizes thousands of crystals to construct an imaginary room.

Nearby, two high-profile design companies, Bisazza and Cappellini, make presentations in satellite spaces, and there are three nights of design talks in the Media Lounge designed by students of the New York School of Interior Design and furnished by Cappellini and Poltrona Frau. And, if that’s not enough, pop-up shops and existing design showrooms surrounding the fair site are staging special events throughout the week, with FriendsWithYou, Maison Martin Margiela, and Gucci throwing their own brands of creativity into the mix.

Design Miami is on view from December 2-5. Watch for next week’s Artkrush report on Art Basel Miami Beach and blog dispatches from Miami on Flavorwire.