The entrance to this year’s Design Miami/ was designed by Snarkitecture. Courtesy of Design Miami/.
MIAMI - It’s that time of year when the art world makes their annual pilgrimage to Art Basel Miami Beach. I too, am getting ready for the trip down, but for me the draw is Design Miami/. I recently sat down with the editor from Sotheby’s Blogs and reflected on the fair’s short history, and what it is that keeps me coming back for more.
How long have you been going to Design Miami/ and how has it evolved over the years?
I have attended Design Miami/ every year since its inception in 2005, and it is the one fair that is essential for me to visit each year. Like the secondary design market, it has ebbed and flowed over the years in quality, and currently it has been gaining in strength and impact. The primary challenge has been finding the proper balance between galleries that specialize in midcentury and historic design and galleries that are representing contemporary designers.
What differentiates it from other design fairs?
The spectacle. Organizers bring in so many exciting satellite installations. There have been amazing pop-up and pre-fab architectural installations over the years, ranging from Adam Kalkin’s Push Button House in 2005 to the Artek Pavilion in 2007 (which we later sold at auction here at Sotheby’s). And there are always memorable art performances and temporary installations at The Wolfsonian, which houses one of the world’s greatest collections of early 20th Century modernism. During Art Basel the museum transforms itself into a theater of contemporary ideas. This year they are presenting an exhibition by the artist Esther Shalev-Gerz who is creating a multimedia show based on depictions of labor in the museum’s permanent collection. The opening night party at “the Wolf” is always a spectacle.
A rendering of the entrance to this year’s Design Miami/, designed by Snarkitecture. Courtesy of Design Miami/.
Why is the fair important for the design industry?
It legitimizes the importance of not just decorating with design, but collecting design. So many of today’s contemporary art collectors still tend to add design to their collections only when they’re decorating a specific home.
At past fairs, who have you been must excited to meet— your industry celebrity sighting?
My favorite designer to chat with, year in and year out, is Tom Dixon. He is the most approachable guy, and I idolize his work.
My most memorable Design Miami/ moment was back in 2005, playing table tennis with Ron Arad on one of his ping pong tables, which he produced as a limited edition through the Friedman Benda Gallery. He crushed me because he knew how to navigate the warped metal playing surface.
And what object(s) have you been most excited to spot?
Galerie Patrick Seguin’s entire booth of Prouvé furniture last year was mesmerizing. That is a market for which it is currently incredibly difficult to source fresh material for auction.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
From the sound of it, there will be an even better group of European galleries specializing in historic design. It’s always a challenge for the galleries in Copenhagen, Berlin, Brussels, etc to make the trip and transport their pieces, which is expensive. So these are the galleries that excite me the most, because they always bring their rarest pieces.