Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Greetings from Design Miami...

Hello dear readers.  As Basel week kicks off in Miami I send you my best visual thoughts from the front lines.  While Basel proper looms in the near distance, I spent most of Tuesday soaking in the treasures of Design Miami, and lets face it, these are my people...  So lets get to it, shall we?
The booth of Todd McDonald NYC
I was captivated by the booth of Todd McDonald who has long been a friend of good design, but his array of period Eames was quite a warm respite.  Along with the ESU's and esoteric leg splints he brought a great collection of design jewelry which was already finding homes amongst fair attendees on opening night.
Galerie Downtown-Francois Laffanour Paris
Galerie Downtown Paris was a Prouve-Perriand affair and I must say sometimes it does pay to keep like with like.  I had preview access and thus the booth was free from clients who can delightfilly distract from the most stridently prepared gesumtkunstwerk.
Galerie Downtown-Francois Laffanour Paris
While I could never personally live with this much Mouille/Prouve/Perriand outside of the Congo, it does make sense in the design wilds of Miami and I am sure many of these masterworks will find new homes before the week is out.
Moderne Gallery of Philadelphia
While Moderne Gallery of Philadelphia is a leading exponent of the New Hope School (read Nakashima) their booth was decidedly a Wharton Escherick affair.  While I like his works in small doses it was impressive to see so many models in one spot.  The pair of stools at top left were particularly exquisite.
Galerie Jacques Lacoste Paris
Galerie Jacques Lacoste never (ever) seems to disappoint.  I rarely get verbose but he always manages to procure the masterful examples of Royere.  His booth was excellently curated and while breathable was stocked full of top-notch French 40s design.
Jason Jacques, Inc.
As an admitted design geek the booth New York "pot dealer" Jason Jacques made me lose myself for a  moment as there was so much to absorb.  I must hand it to him he brought out many ceramic works of unmatched quality and provenance (I would hate to be his shipper/insurer).
Masterworks by Viennese ceramicist Ernst Wahliss

This particular group of vessels by the Viennese ceramicist Ernst Wahliss  made me so very happy.  While being firmly rooted in the Jugenstil (1900s) they made me think of Murakami especially the mushroom shaped pot in the foreground (below).
I leave you lastly with an unexpected new discovery.  The highlight of every season is the encounter with something that captivates the eye with its uniqueness, may I present the "Fragile Future" chandeleier (2012) by Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn.
I apologize in advance for the rather cold nature of the captured light but this is the nature of LEDs.  It read from a distance as a work of Harry Bertoia, but having never seen a model close to this I knew my design vocabulary was leading me astray.  The framework is constructed of polished bronze, but the "bulbs" are actually individually adhered "dandelion seeds" to commercial LEDs, thus recreating and array of clustered dandelions.
The table lamp version of this chandelier was clad in glass which made complete sense as one can only imagine that these delicate reconstructed dandelions would become caked with dust over time.  Oh well, sometimes design is simply made for dreaming....More to follow from my week at the Basel Fair...


  1. I'm a huge fan of Modernism, but the Eames plywood leg splints have become a total cliche, as far as I'm concerned. Every time I look at a shelter or design website concerned with contemporary Modernists and Modernism, there always seems to be one hanging on the wall of someone's home or apartment.

    To really understand Wharton Esherick, you need to see his home and studio, just outside of Philadelphia. It is a total work of art, with every detail designed and executed by the artist (even the Kahn-designed addition was altered during construction by Eskerick to "give it some curves"). It is every bit as immersive an experience as the great French Art Deco rooms you love.

  2. Some great picks! I have been to neither Miami Design Week nor Miami Art Basel, but I hope to make it to the "Original" Miami Beach Antique Show at the end of next month.

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