First Impressions of Design Miami/: Cozy Modernism and New High-Concept Gems

First Impressions of Design Miami/: Cozy Modernism and New High-Concept Gems
Visitors catch Snarkitecture's "Drift" at the entrance to Design Miami
(Photo © Janelle Zara)

MIAMI — Design Miami/ is a veritable mecca for design enthusiasts, one that allows the work to be presented on its own pedestal, uncrowded by the field’s non-functional counterparts. It’s refreshing to go to a fair where the design speaks for itself, and where (nearly) all the artwork can be turned on, sat on, or worn.

At this year’s event, in no exception to most contemporary design fairs, mid-century treasures abound, housed in the inviting warmth of living room settings swathed in primary colors — the jubilant hallmark of modernist design. A dandelion yellow festoons the walls of Chelsea gallery Demisch Danant’s solo exhibition of French modernist Pierre Guariche, which is a notable first for the late designer’s works; Hudson, New York’s Mark McDonald showcased his goods in a booth lined in yellow, red, and blue squares amid criss-crossing metal bars, in obvious homage to the Eames-designed shelving units within. Perhaps most inviting was Paris-based Galerie Patrick Seguin’s collection of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret: Truly aiming to make visitors feel at home, the gallery posted framed photos on the walls and laid albums on the desks, and created a wall-sized reproduction of a photograph of the Le Corbusier parliament building in Chandigarh, India — an iconic modernist structure that echoes his well-beloved Ronchamp Chapel.


Looking around, one might notice the difference a generation can make. The younger dealers of more contemporary designers seem to prefer showing their works in the spareness of a white cube, with little apparent need to convince their buyers that the sculptural, avant-garde pieces can be comfortably lived with. Highlights include: Chicago-based Volume Gallery’s collection of shelves and lighting by Snarkitecture, all of which appear to either be slanting in one direction or chiseled from blocks of Styrofoam; the intricately twisted and interlaced lampposts of Pieke Bergmans’ “Metamorphosis” series from Venice Projects; and our favorite new discovery, Ro/Lu, a Minneapolis-based maker of high concept, art-inspired, plywood and particle board furniture, exhibited by Mondo Cane.

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