top of page

RAVEN RECAP: Design Miami/ 2020

One of my favorite events of the year - the globally renowned and influential fair Design Miami/ - just happened. Here, I walk you through the Podium exhibition and show you the showstoppers that stopped me in my tracks!

product images courtesy of Design Miami

photo: Nemirovski Photography

What a way to spend a Sunday!

Coinciding each year with Art Basel Miami, Design Miami/ has become the premier venue for collecting, exhibiting, discussing, and creating collectible design. The global high-end design fair brings together the most influential collectors, gallerists, designers, curators, critics, and editors like myself to celebrate design culture and commerce.

So, as I do each year, I made my way to the Miami Design District - specifically the historic Moore Building - and got masked-up and ready to shop Design Miami/Podium 2020.

The Moore Building featuring "Elastika" by the legendary Zaha Hadid

With dozens of exhibits by the world's leading galleries in contemporary design spread out over four floors and over 21,000-square-feet, it would be virtually impossible to show you all of Podium; nevertheless, I'm thrilled to share with you the things that really caught my eye.

Immediately, my heart was a-flutter when I encountered Curiosity Cloud, a kinetic chandelier where carefully crafted... and very active!... make-believe insects are contained inside glass bulbs. This immersive installation, which made its first-time Design Miami appearance this year, was presented by champagne house Perrier Jouët and the Australian design duo of Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler (together known as mischer’traxler). It creatively explores the topic of biodiversity and the impact of humans on nature.

Curiosity Cloud, presented by Perrier Jouët and mischer’traxler

I've written about Mid-Century Modern icons often, so as you can imagine, viewing these pieces in-person (by Japanese-American sculptor and furniture designer Isamu Noguchi and Swedish architect and designer Greta Magnusson Grossman) felt like being in the company of greatness.

photo: Nemirovski Photography

Flash-forward to present day. These crafty wallhangings by Mexican-born, L.A.-based artist/designer Tanya Aguiñiga are definitely the most interesting I've seen in a while. The inclusion of a synthetic blond-haired ponytail is quite innovative; I wonder if Tanya might be willing to do a jet weave version for this raven-haired sista.

photo: Nemirovski Photography

I've always enjoyed the smell of Fabuloso when my house has been freshly cleaned, but I never realized how attractive the bottle is until I was woke by fashion retailer Awake NY and artist Tschabalala Self. Their exclusive limited edition T-shirt for Design Miami/ featured a sketch by the artist that was inspired by the bodegas common to her childhood neighborhood of Harlem. Besides being super cool and colorful, all net proceeds from the sale of these tees were donated to the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation (MLKEDC) - a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the general welfare of MLK Blvd. and Liberty City in Miami, which has responded to the food deficit created by the pandemic by providing 1,200 meals per week to seniors in the community. How fabuloso is that?!!

OK, stop right there. This bench by Virgil Abloh; seriously, I cannot even. So visionary! A familiar object brilliantly transformed into a coveted objet de art. Leave it to Abloh, Louis Vuitton men's artistic director and Kanye West's right-hand man, to give this piece such a stylish edge.

Barely recovered from that heart-palpitating, high-fashion meets high-design moment, I found this next stunner...

As a frequent and enthusiastic guest of the Guitar Hotel at Hard Rock Hollywood Seminole Casino (and maybe also because I'm dating a drummer), rock and pop music memorabilia fascinates me. I wasn't expecting it at a major design fair such as this, but there it was, catching me off-guard to the point that I had to stop and catch my breath. Apparently, the exceptional London-based architect/designer Asif Khan has realized his teenage dream of building an electric guitar. This genius sculpture - modeled after Jimi Hendrix’s legendary white Fender Stratocaster and inspired by American architect R. Buckminster Fuller’s space frame constructions - sufficiently rocked my world.

presented by Asif Khan Studio

Now before I reveal the rest of my Design Miami picks, I'd like to stop and share for a moment.

Hi. I'm Robin, and I'm a deco-holic. I purposely did zero research in advance of this coverage, because I wanted to use my pure instinct to do an authentic edit for you. But it so happens that just before Design Miami/ opened its doors, a jury convened to review every piece in the show and select the “Top Ten” designs in two categories: historical and contemporary. On said jury were: Miami design collector and connoisseur Al Eiber, Wolfsonian–FIU Chief Curator Silvia Barisione, Design Miami/ Director of Exhibitions Jillian Choi, and New York architect and design expert Lee Mindel (who served as Jury Chair).

My hand to God, I was unaware of their selections when I chose the following items. So I'm kinda feeling myself knowing that four of my personal picks were among this stellar jury's "Top Ten".

And they are:

I tend to talk with my hands for extra emphasis. And may I emphasize that these Gaetano Pesce resin chairs as a pop of color in an all-white room would be utterly amazing?

I do fancy a good collection and have a few of my own I'm quite proud of. Hence, when I saw this lamp base adorned with collected ceramic bird figurines, I was like "Stop the presses!" Then just for fun, I checked to see if there was a raven, which... and this is totally fine... there wasn't, and whether there was a robin, which hooray...there was. (Hell yeah Stuart Haygarth. Way to represent!)

That's Maria Bonita De La Pezuela, CEO of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, America, standing behind me, acting all chill but probably so nervous I'm 'bout to knock over and shatter this precious work of art. But no touchies... I swear. I'm just a little obsessed over this lamp. Sorry if I stressed you out Maria!

Like so many of you out there, I adore organic furniture pieces made with natural fibers, so this chair is a conversation-starter. Miami gallery owner Mindy Solomon offered me insight about how it was conceived by the Berlin-based design firm hettler.tüllmann and handwoven by artisans in Malawi, East Africa. I love it for an accent chair for any tropical or BoHo space.

And lastly, the pièce de résistance: British artist Marc Fish's Ethereal Series, created over the past year using an innovative new medium of hand-formed and carved micro-stack lamination and poured resin.

This whole exhibit by Todd Merill Studio positively shined, and only when, I kid you not, the security guard ushered me out the door (being that Design Miami/ Podium 2020 was officially shutting down and I was still meandering about) was I forced to stop gawking at it.

And so my friends, as nighttime fell upon Design Miami, I wanted to leave you with the message of positivity and hope expressed in this eye-catching neon artwork - on loan from the Craig Robins Collection - which references a lyric by Kurt Cobain in the Nirvana song Dumb. Despite the song title, I think the sentiment is really smart. And especially relevant in these trying times.

The Sun Is Gone But We Have The Light, Rirkkrit Tiravanija, 2005

Design Miami/, I'll look forward to December 2021 when we get to do this all over again. Hopefully without the face masks next time.

bottom of page