What’s at Design Miami/ This Year? Experimental Design

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From clay to bureaucratic grey, the top takeaways from Design Miami/

As the art world flocks to Miami this weekend for the flurry of art fairs, designers get their share of the limelight, too, with Design Miami/ (yes the slash is not a typo), a must-see marketplace for new design. It’s where every graphic designer should pop by to see the world’s top galleries who present museum-quality exhibitions of 20th and 21st century furniture, lighting and objets d’art (a fancy way of saying knick knacks). That’s not all, however.

You can check out the latest brand-designer collabs, see panels and lectures with design luminaries from across the world of design. Design Miami/ is also delivering spot works by architects, artists and fashion designers, some of who had their start in graphic design.

“This year’s gallery presentations showcase the best in collectible design from rare mid-century pieces to contemporary works using experimental materials and processes,” says Jennifer Roberts, the CEO of Design Miami/. “We are thrilled with the far-reaching international scope of this year’s program and by bringing new talents to the fair, it’s combining conceptual practices with traditional craftsmanship.”

This year’s tent boasts 34 exhibitions by galleries alongside 11 presentations in the Curio section, which features design from 12 countries across the globe. With a highlight on trends, industrial materials and a sense of play, there is also a focus on craft, modular design, immersive installations and design from Latin America. What’s at the core of what brings all of this together? Experimental design. Here are some highlights that range from clay to comedy and bureaucratic grey.

Design Miami Nuriev

Courtesy Harry Nuriev

The Office by Harry Nuriev

What it is: Imagine being an intern with nothing better to do than kill time. That’s the concept behind this installation with graphic wallpaper of binary code, bland-colored furniture and run of the mill furniture.

File next to: George Orwell’s 1984.

The designer: This Moscow-born architect and artist used to work for the Russian government as an intern, which haunts him to this day. It’s a critique of how you can lose your identity in office culture and sparked him to become a designer to express himself and uplift others.

The takeaway: According to Niriev: “The chair symbolizes creativity and a place to kill time, sometimes miserably; the printer symbolizes agreements and bureaucracy; the window symbolizes freedom and watching your life rather than living it; the air conditioner symbolizes fresh air and death; the rack symbolizes orderliness and a dress code that can kill your identity; and the shoes symbolize people who are not there anymore.”

Lollipop by Ahryun Lee, 2018. Courtesy J. Lohmann Gallery Design Miami

Lollipop by Ahryun Lee, 2018. Courtesy J. Lohmann Gallery

Breaking the Mold: Contemporary Korean Ceramics

What it is: Presented by New York’s J. Lohmann Gallery, the gallery has hand-picked five of the most talented young designers from South Korea who work with clay, of all things.

File next to: The manga figurines on your bookshelf.

The highlights: Rainbow by Jongjin Park, which puts plastic marble colors sliced together like a loaf of bread and Tasty Collection by Ahryun Lee, who creates modular-like characters that look like they’re straight out of a comic book.

The takeaway: “Korean ceramics have typically been considered uniform in appearance and utilitarian in function, a misconception these new voices aim to correct with their innovative approaches to contemporary ceramic design,” said Roberts. “Each designer’s inimitable ornamental language, use of experimental techniques, and unique interpretation of clay create a perfect symphony between craft, design, and art that is anything but ordinary.”

Courtesy Calico Wallpaper design miami

Courtesy Calico Wallpaper

Calico Wallpaper and Philippe Malouin present The Color and the Shape

What it is: The most non-traditional wallpaper you’ve ever seen, in fact, it’s more like a paper and mesh collage in hues of blue, calling to mind waves from the perspective of a dolphin.

File next to: The bathroom of your dreams with a huge bathtub, candles and walls like this.

The designers: Brooklyn-based duo Rachel and Nick Cope, who are the force behind Calico wallpaper, are inspired by unknown desert landscapes, the booth structure and mesmerizing patterns reminiscent of sand moved by wind and weather.

The takeaway: This installation reimagines how wallpaper can transform a wall into “abstraction, texture and a modular game of layering,” according to the designers. “Taking inspiration from Henri Matisse and his technique of ‘carving into color,’ a library with a set number of shapes in specific colors and sizes will be the basis for the collage wall assemblies.”

Ulm Stool by Max Bill 1954 at Martina Simeti. Courtesy of WB Form design miami

Ulm Stool by Max Bill 1954 at Martina Simeti. Courtesy WB Form

Martina Simeti presents The Corner Piece N° 2 curated by Ligia Dias

What it is: Think high concept design meets craft materials. It’s set up like a pop-up that is furnished like an apartment.

File next to: A conversation about the new school of designers following in the Memphis Group’s footsteps, while reinventing things in their own right.

The designers: This space brings together conceptual and craft practices, including a series of rainbow-hued Ulm Stools by Max Bill and a precious everyday tool by Valentin Carron. Also find Johanna Dahm’s personal take on a Swiss icon, bizarre twists on ordinary objects by Ligia Dias, a very playful fork by Bruno Munari and a sugar cube ring by Meret Oppenheim, not to mention next-level silver hangers by Bernhard Schobinger.

Liabilities by Nadja Zerunian, 2018. Courtesy Nadja Zerunian design miami

Liabilities by Nadja Zerunian, 2018. Courtesy Nadja Zerunian

Nadja Zerunian presents Liabilities

What it is: Bold patterns from eastern Europe that work together in a pattern that mystify, enchant and bedazzle in ways you’d never think jewelry design has done before.

File next to: The
Alchemy Museum in Prague.

The designer: Nadja Zerunian is co-founder of the design group Zerunianandweisz and is an advisor for the Erste Foundation’s Roma Partnership Program. She worked for a decade as a senior designer with Calvin Klein in New York before becoming creative director first at Georg Jensen and then at the Swatch Group. She divides her time between Vienna and the U.S.

The takeaway: Nadja Zerunian creates copper and gold design pieces that are inspired by traditional Transylvanian Roma artisan traditions, especially those who use archaic methods and tools, even to this day. The works are inspired by human interactions, family attachments, bonds and emotional sentiments.