Copyright Vladimir Kagan December 13, 2010
(The second article in a trilogy about the Miami Art scene)
Across from Miami’s Convention Center, plunked into the midst of their vast parking lot, stood a monolithic white tent that housed DESIGN MIAMI…. (As we found parking near a rear entrance, with some chutzpa and good luck, we snuck in the back door.) Management kindly turned a blind eye as both of us were hobbling on walkers…. These were our salvation to ease the strain of walking miles of exhibits…. Hence we missed the impressive entrance installation by Konstantin Grcic.
Konstantin Grcic's gossamer Netscape at the entrance to the exhibit
The show was a sleeper!.... (We expected an ICFF type exhibit The International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York with craftsmen of diverse skills displaying their wares.)…. What we found instead was a discerning international exhibit of cutting edge, furniture, lighting and limited edition creations by 17 exhibitors.
Konstantin Grcic, one of Germany’s most energetic designers, was honored with The Designer Of The Year Award…. A well deserved honor for this enigmatic young creator. He thinks outside of the box and comes up with extraordinary solutions to ordinary challenges. As he has said in earlier interviews, “chairs need not be comfortable”….. the display of his idiosyncratic designs amply demonstrated this. They entertain and challenge the user…it’s what 21st century design is all about. His Netscape installation of swinging-chair-hammocks at the entrance to the tent added an entertaining note to this wonderful show. Their white open mesh, in constant motion, floated in the dappled sunlight of the entrance to the exhibit.
Barry Friedman, the impresario of esoteric design, showed the latest sculptured rocking chairs by the master of the genre, Wendell Castle…. Ron Arad, one of my favorite cutting edge thinkers, introduced a stainless steel sculpture in the disguise of a rocker; Ron’s sensuous steel designs are breathtaking pieces of functional art…. Ingrid Donat's remarkable "Commode 7 Engrenages" from 2008, a three-drawer piece in cast bronze featuring a surreal set of gears embedded on one side of the dresser that move as you open the top drawer. The concept could have come straight out of a bank vault or medieval castle. One of the edition of eight commodes sold for $125,000. All items shown by Friedman were limited editions costing well into the hundred thousand dollars each…. and with a diminishing inventory, the price for the remaining ones go up!
Wendell Castle's latest rocking chair creations...more art than comfort
Ron Arad's stainless steel sculpture disguised as a rocking chair
Todd Merrill, another purveyor of exquisite taste, displayed the creations of my delightful Irish woodworker, Joseph Walsh, whom I discovered and wrote about in this Blog this past October (see An Irish Craft Exhibit In New York)…. Todd’s discerning eye for the esoteric also showed the works of my friend, Michael Coffey, a superb woodworker who is finally enjoying a much-deserved renaissance. His work is so much in demand that Michael can’t keep up with the orders…. Todd blends the new with the old and showed a collection of exotic 70’s Paul Evans furniture… and going back further in time, found an early 50’s, a seating group by the enigmatic James Mont… a character out of the past, (coincidentally, my father’s first job in America, was making Mont’s prototypes…. but that is another story)
Irish cabinetmaker, Joseph Walsh, created these poetic pieces of wood sculptured furniture
James Mon't surprisingly modern platform sofa from the 50's
A very cool exhibitor from Paris, Perimeter Art & Design, represents some of the world’s major designers such as the Campana brothers, Francois Arnal, Pierre Paulin and the indomitable Zaha Hadid. Their exhibit was reflective of truly 21st Century technology and design.
The always inventive Zaha Hadid does it again with this....what is it?
I am probably a minority of one, but I could not get exited about the retro exhibit of Jean Royère 50’s designs in a room setting by Gallery Patrick Sequin… (exception: the chairs and sofas were great)
This retro room by the notable Parisian dealer,Patrick Sequi features the 50's furniture of Jean Royère
An Anglo-French exhibitor, The Carpenters Workshop Gallery, introduced a mixed show of international designers, exploring materiality, function and art. A sculptural multi-level sofa called Tephra Formations by Robert Stadler is meticulously tufted in leather, its undulating shape interpreting the molten flow of volcanic larva…. The collective, rAndom International developed an ingenious piece of electronic engineering, magically emulating the flight of a hive of bees. Using LEDs behavioral algorithm and sound sensors, The Swarm Chandelier, consists of three segments, soundlessly buzzes away…. The imaginative Dutch designer Marcel Wanders plays with materials in his Bon-Bon-Gold, combining resin, rope and precious metals.
Here is Erica giving it a comfort test at the show
The Swarm of Bees Chandelier created by rAdom International....several were sold for $18,000 each
Swarovski, the Austrian firm best know for its crystal chandeliers, mesmerized us with a state-of-the-art animated light display in a walk-through darkened chamber.
The Belgium gallery, D&A Lab specializing in functional furniture, designed by artists, (though the function was often obscured by its art). A simple cubic hanging cabinet, created by Dimitri Vangrunderkeek, upon closer scrutiny, sprouted hundreds of laser-cut miniature walking figures inspired by the photographs of the 19th century photographer Muybridge.
Among other important exhibitors were Sebastian & Barquet/NY, Christina Grajales/NY, R20th Century/NY, Gallery Patrick Sequin/Paris, Stilwerk/Hamburg, Gallery Seomi/Seoul…. Jennifer Roberts, Publisher of MODERN MAGAZINE had a stand prompting her publication, which is beyond a doubt, the best magazine dedicated to modernism.
Below are photos of some other items that caught our eye
A chair made with a Moose horn as an arm
R20th Century's funky jungle installation
Audi, one of the event’s sponsors, used the show to introduce their latest concept car: a sexy hybrid called Spider - scheduled for production in 2011…. (Look out Mercedes, here comes the competition!)
Audi's sleek new Spider available in 2011
Erica loves hub caps...so fo peace in the family, here is a photo just for her
This was a show of significant importance….We comfortable amongst friends and reveled in my new notoriety as a “Design Icon”….. Nothing nicer than being cow-towed to!