Design Miami, the annual Miami Beach fair that brings together avant-garde furniture, lighting, and objets d’art, is always full of works that can’t help but inspire adoration. Famed design houses bring with them edgy collaborations with buzzy artists. Gallerists present works from emerging creators or archival pieces from renowned ones. There are maximalists, and minimalists. Most of all, there are designs dreamt up from inspiring minds that push the boundaries of the industry—and set standards for years to come.
2018 saw Balenciaga printers, Fendi Fountains, and the Kaws x Campana Chair (eventually purchased by one Kylie Jenner). But what caught our eye at 2019? Below, an overview of what stood out and what trends surfaced, with input from features editor Lilah Ramzi.
Daniel Arsham Installation (Friedman Benda)
This installation probably doesn’t need more press because Bella Hadid, with her 27 million followers, already Instagrammed it. But let’s proceed! Artist Daniel Arsham created a living room in the middle of Design Miami, complete with rugs, chairs, desks, bookshelves, and even a telephone. Much of it was created with white resin, then eroded—the desk, for example, has a jagged hole on the top, next to which Arsham wrote “Hole Pass Through.” In fact, he annotated much of his work: a chair is inscribed with “Full Erosion Under.” The rug is marked like a floor layout with measurements and furniture names. With their hard material and futuristic yet fossil-like appearance, these pieces could seem unapproachable. But as Arsham himself wrote on social media: “Don’t be shy, sit on the chairs!”
Balenciaga Sofa by Harry Nuriev
Smack dab in the middle of Design Miami was an overstuffed couch, filled to the brim with jeans, sweaters, pink lacy gloves and other unsold clothes from the Balenciaga warehouse. The design house collaborated with Crosby Studios founder Harry Nuriev’s to deliver this message of sustainability: in an age when brands burn their unbought merchandise or dump them in a landfill, why not think about more clever ways to reuse and recycle? Statement aside, the piece is also a fun one. It’s reminiscent of plastic-covered furniture you might find in your grandmother’s house—if, well, she suddenly became a hypebeast.
Fendi’s Roman Molds by Kueng Caputo
Fendi commissioned Zurich-based design firm Kueng Caputo to make some new pieces for its headquarters, the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana. (The marble building is a preeminent example of Fascist-style architecture, and an iconic one in Rome.) Just like with Balenciaga, sustainability played a role—the designers used upcycled Selleria Roman leather, the buttery material used in many of their products—and transformed it into a stiff, structural element. And oh, the colors! Cheery red, hot pink, sunshine yellow, all propped on terracotta brick. If it wasn’t going to Rome, it’d fit perfectly in a Miami living room.
Fernando Laposse Sissal Bench (Ago Projects)
Fernando Laposse’s Sissal bench emits a certain wonderful outrageousness. The fibers are colored with dye from the cochineal insect, a native species to Mexico that was also used by the Aztecs. Laposse has been shining a light on this rare art form: his installation in the Miami Design District, Pink Beasts, features playful tassel sloths doused of the same hue.
“Swell Wave” by Andrew Kudless for Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades
Louis Vuitton’s Objets Nomades are a staple (and highlight) of design fairs around the world. The brand has collaborated with the likes of Estudio Campana, Marcel Wanders, and India Mahdavi. But they’d never included an American artist—until they met Andrew Kudless.
His shelves, “Swell Wave,” come in two versions: one hanging, one standing. The former was at Design Miami. He used natural materials—wood that looks like it’s being stretched out, royal blue leather straps that look like they are dangling by threads holding the whole thing together. “I love to travel, but sometimes I feel like I’m pulled in multiple directions. There’s the draw to stay home, but then there’s draw to have an adventure elsewhere. I wanted the piece to embody that feeling—you get the sense of the forces,” says San-Francisco based Kudless. The name, “Swell Wave,” too, gives meaning to the piece. Waves are affected by different forces around the world: a storm in Indonesia, say, can affect the surf in California. “Even being in one place, the world is constantly traveling around you,” he adds.
Roberto Lugo’s Stuntin‘ Series (Wexler Gallery)
Born in Philadelphia to Puerto Rican parents, Roberto Lugo is a classically trained ceramicist (who studied at the factories of historic Hungarian porcelain house of Herend) but in lieu of Rococo swags or idyllic florals, Lugo handprints his wares with the hip-hop iconography of his youth. Bowls feature emblems borrowed from Air Jordans and dripping bubble letters evocative of graffiti. Most eye-catching is a small human-sized urn painted with the likes of Biggie Smalls. “Historically, anthropology used ceramics to let us know what was happening and cultures past,” he says, “I see my role as an artist but also as an archivist. What I don’t want is the things we are doing in my community to get lost.”
Marcelin Rusak (Sarah Myerscough Gallery)
Based out of Warsaw, Poland, artist and designer Marcelin Rusak has found the loveliest way to give discarded flowers new life. He takes the dried blooms and seals them in milky-white and smokey colored resin, which is then shaped into amorphic chairs, tables, and wall hangings. The end result is both romantic and sleek, dainty and smart. A table on the exhibition appeared like a piece of botanically-infused white chocolate—just delicious!
“Berlin” Chair by Finn Meier (Functional Art Gallery)
Finn Meier made this float-glass, chrome-coated chair with moving neon gas—look closely, and you can see the lava lamp-like lines wiggling around. And it’s not diminutive to say that this would look great at a rave or club: Meyer was inspired by Germany’s electric nightlife, such as techno hotspot Berghain.
“Fine Tuning” Lamps, Claudia Moreira Salles (Espasso)
It’s Salles’s silhouettes you fall in love with: The clean, crisp gold lines, punctuated by a perfectly halved semicircle, or a perfectly symmetrical orb. The structure is simple design at its finest—they don’t even need to be lit to glow.
Designs by Alexander Diaz Andersson (Atra)
Design Miami is all about the avant-garde, which sometimes veers towards over-the-top insanity. Which is fun! But amid all the statement pieces, sometimes it’s nice to see something that errs on the side of minimalism. These cloud-like white couches by Swedish-born, Mexico City-based Alexander Diaz Andresson—an excellent marriage between Scandinavian and Latin American art elements—do the trick. They may not be immediate Instagram fodder, but they’d look perfect in any modern home or au courant hotel.
“Please Be Seated” (Les Ateliers Courbet and Thirlwall Design)
In 1958, idiosyncratic French director Jacques Tati released his film Mon Oncle starring a bumbling Monsieur Hulot who resides in a modernized, mechanical home that’s too advanced for his own good. The movie questioned the value of technology and commerce, but also gave the world some architectural eye-candy. For Design Miami, studios Les Ateliers Courbet and Thirlwall Design came together to recreate the famous house in the installation “Please Be Seated.” The booth featured neat astroturf flooring divided up into rectangular shapes and circular stepping stones laid atop pink-colored gravel. All of this is to celebrate three chairs, now available in the U.S., that are derived from the famous film. They’re futuristic, highly impractical designs from Tati himself that are more statement than accent chairs.
Bus Stop Bench (Rooms Studio)
Nata Janeridze and Keti Toloaria were in fourth grade when the Soviet Union collapsed. Suddenly, the concept of personal belonging was ushered back into their society. This tension of public versus private is the driving force behind Bus Stop Bench, a stone creation done in collaboration with Georgian hip-hop and visual artist Max Machaidze. An object meant for societal use—it’s a bus stop bench—is covered in graffiti by those wanting to leave their own, distinct message or mark.
Originally Appeared on Vogue