Design Miami Virtual Walk-Through
For the travel-phobic, reticent, or otherwise unable to make it to Miami in person, this year’s iteration offered a great option: a 3-D virtual reality walk-through, powered by Matterport Technology.
AGO Projects Booth
Though there’s obviously no substitute for the tactile experience of being there, Matterport’s virtual walk-through is easily the most seamless immersion into a space that I’ve come across: the streaming is fast and clean, navigation is intuitive and responsive, and the imagery is pretty-much crystal clear with minimal distortion.
Emotional Rocks by Apical Reform
Many of the images herein come straight from the Matterport interface. Hence, the presence of the identifying circles that fill users in on names and origins of specific pieces. To take the tour, go here. You may also stop the tour at anytime and peruse at your leisure. Following is the route I took with comments on some noteworthy work.
To the left after entrance: Superblue
Superblue is a Miami-based gallery/concern and immersive art experience focused on fostering the visions of young artists—very much in line with the sentiment echoed above by London artist Yinka Ilori. In addition to the installation at the show (seen above), Superblue also commissioned Ilori’s design of the exterior of Superblue’s eclectic café, Blue Rider. Ilori recently transformed the space into “an international celebration of color, paying homage to the vibrant and resilient energies of Miami.”
Artist Yinka Ilori on-site at the Blue Rider café
Straight down, second booth to the left: Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery
Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery with pieces by Rick Owens and Vincenzo DeCotis
Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery supports functional art and design from thinkers and craftspeople “going outside their traditional territories of expression.” Here we see work by conceptual artist and clothing designer Rick Owens: the Octoplug Black Plywood table and Pompidou Bed. Sheltering canopy, relaxing refuge, and exhibition stage—and famed for Owens’ immersive art exhibition in Paris—Pompidou engages the boundary between self-conscious display and voyeurism.
Directly across the hall: Objective Gallery
Objective Gallery with the Twist Column Light, The Cubes Variations Part II, and Swarm Credenza
From the rarefied environs of Shanghai, Objective Gallery is a multi-disciplinary brand that cultivates the unusual and the compelling, always embracing products that tell a story. Twist, by artist Eny Lee, inverts the structural proposition of the column via illuminating adornment; J. McDonald’s The Cubes Variations Part II assembles circular and half-moon shapes into a rectangular volume that challenges our notions of geometric space; and Swarm (also by McDonald) envisions a mundane furnishing deconstructed into its component parts, then rejoined via a swarm mentality of interconnected fibers and doughy, agglomerating single-celled life.
Next booth down on right: John Keith Russell
Shaker Furniture by John Keith Russell
John Keith Russell specializes in the admirable if perhaps anachronistic pastime of curating antique Shaker-designed furniture. Here, we witness this challenge to the space-time continuum in the form of a light stand, chest of drawers, oval storage boxes, and hinge-top desk.
The Shakers could out-minimalize the Scandinavians, and Russell’s work in recapitulating this venerated style gives truth to the Frederick Evans aphorism, “that which has in itself the highest use possesses the greatest beauty.”
End of the hall: Jason Jacques Gallery
You definitely can’t miss the monolithic structure that looks to be part bee-hive, part humongous-oak-stump-hollowed-out-by-fairies that inhabits the lion’s share of this corner. Jason Jacques is a cutting-edge, Manhattan-based gallery principally focused on ceramic art.
Ceramics and Woven-Wool Rugs by Nick Weddell
But perhaps “cutting-edge” isn’t the best terminology, as this display has a decided whimsical and mythological feel. Not mythology of the high-art or gravitas variety, but rather whimsy and shenanigans. Think Bilbo Baggins meets the adoptive rock troll parents of Kristoff from Frozen.
Interior of Jason Jacques Gallery Treehouse
The space features ceramics by Nick Weddell and Eric Serritella, as well as a great variety of woven-wool rugs by Weddell, including “Rug of a Bug,” “Egg Eater,” and “Chiquita.”
Turn Left, Next Booth on the Right: Harry Nuriev
Past the bookstore on the right, we find the Harry Nuriev Bed. The Stavropol-born Nuriev is an architect and designer, currently situated between the odd bed-fellows of New York and Moscow. With the enigmatic headline of “maximal minimalism,” Nuriev revels in “functional sculptures” that blur the line between art and design.
Harry Nuriev Bed Set
Nuriev’s booth has a “boy-in-the-bubble” feel that’s rife for interpretation, but I sense a comment on the historical moment: on artificial environments, confinement, and our reliance on the trappings of technology.
Friedman Benda is interested in the disparate threads connecting design, craft, architecture, and visual and conceptual art. The gallery also revels on applied technology that reveals this linkage. Made of rubberized MDF and steel, Ross’ Signal Series aims to defamiliarize sitting and establish an aesthetic of alteration, with “once familiar forms that have been punctured by steel die-cut rounds, inclusions that disrupt and distort once coherent planes.”
Across the Way: Wendell Castle Chest of Drawers
Speaking of both familiar and strange, the Wendell Castle Chest of Drawers takes the benign form of a hand-crafted credenza and punctures it with surreal sleight of hand and a profusion of tentacular antlers.
The combination of warm wood and extraterrestrial protrusion and invasion is profoundly unsettling, but beautiful just the same.
Three Booths Down on Right: Moderne Gallery
Philadelphia’s Moderne Gallery curates work by masters of the Studio Craft movement like George Nakashima, Wharton Esherick, Sam Maloof, Peter Voulkos, and Toshiko Takaezu. This year’s booth has a decided Japanese influence, with several pieces from Nakashima illustrating his facility with large slabs of wood, beautifully sculpted into forms as various as a credenza, dining table, lantern-style floor lamps. and simple chair—the latter (Karuizawa Chair), recently determined to be the first furnishing Nakashima ever designed.
Straight Down, Back Wall: Todd Merrill Studio
The booth by Todd Merrill Studio is a smorgasbord of the eclectic and the unexpected. Invested in artists and designers working with unconventional materials “and pushing them to their absolute aesthetic limits,” Todd Merrill is exhibition-based, giving these unorthodox minds and materials a receptive venue.
Fantasy Flower LED Wall Lamp
Soane Wall Medallion
For where else could works like the above take center stage?
Alas, Design Miami 2021 has already packed up and begun preparations for 2022. Thankfully, the virtual walk-through is still very-much present, allowing these transcendent works of art and design to remain in our purview into perpetuity.
Furniture from Mercado Moderno, Brazil
Read more about the work profiled here and that of other participating designers at Design Miami.