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art basel design miami

‘From a Spoon to a Monastery,’ John Pawson on Design, Stuff, and Photography as Therapy

John Pawson designs more than buildings. “We’ve done bridges and boats and books and ballet sets,” notes the simplicity-loving Brit. And that’s just the things that start with “b”! Pawson is down in Miami Beach to fete his clean-lined contribution (read: stunning condos) to the latest EDITION hotel, the Ian Schrager-meets-Marriott venture that timed its opening to coincide with the Art Basel craze, and stopped in to chat with Nick Knight‘s Showstudio about his views on design, minimalism (a “handy pigeonhole” of a term), the virtues of unadorned space, the therapeutic benefits of photography, and Schrager. “He’s so passionate about getting things right,” says Pawson of the famed hotelier. “Interestingly, considering what he’s done in the past…he does like what I do…and he will fight to make it happen.”

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Studio Job, Gonzalo Fuenmayor, Manuel Ameztoy to Debut Works in Miami

Faena_Unexpected Guest_Credit Gonzalo Fuenmayor
Gonzalo Fuenmayor, The Unexpected Guest, 2014 (Photo: Collection of Alan Faena and Ximena Caminos)

The Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed Faena Forum doesn’t open ’til the next edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, but that won’t stop it from being the talk of this go-round. The building-in-progress, slated to be the 50,000-square-foot centerpiece of Alan Faena‘s Miami Beach mixed-use wonderland at 33rd and Collins, is making a splash with the newly opened Faena Collaboratory.

Designed with Koolhaas and Atelier Marko Brajovic, the pop-up pavilion provides a window into the creative process behind the Faena Forum through an installation of models, drawings, notes, and research and will also serve as the temporary home for site-specific commissions by Studio Job (we hear the Antwerp-based design collective is riffing on the Fountain of Youth) and Colombian-born, Miami-based artist Gonzalo Fuenmayor, who is promising nothing short of “Eden”: an outdoor installation of tropical-themed, trans-American opulence.
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Yeezus Lives! Kanye West Pops into Design Miami Basel

(Photo: Seth Browarnik for Design Miami Basel)

When last we saw Kanye West, he was wandering the tulip-lined halls of the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF). His latest appearance on the international art circuit (Gray hoodie? Check.) was at Design Miami Basel, where, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, he gave an impromptu listening party for Yeezus. The album, due out on June 18, is expected to sell 500,000 copies in its first week of release.

Some 2,000 guests (Hans Ulrich Obrist? Check.) gathered–amidst a few Rick Owens chairs–at the center of the Herzog and de Meuron-designed Hall 1 Sud at Basel’s Messeplatz to sample West’s latest, including a track produced by Daft Punk and an a capella rendition of “New Slaves,” which includes a shout-out to Alexander Wang. The decision to appear at Design Miami Basel makes perfect sense considering that West has moved on from George Condo to…Le Corbusier. In a recent interview with Jon Caramanica of The New York Times, he pointed to architecture as influencing the pared-down vibe of Yeezus:

You know, this one Corbusier lamp was like, my greatest inspiration. I lived in Paris in this loft space and recorded in my living room, and it just had the worst acoustics possible, but also the songs had to be super simple, because if you turned up some complicated sound and a track with too much bass, it’s not going to work in that space. This is earlier this year. I would go to museums and just like, the Louvre would have a furniture exhibit, and I visited it like, five times, even privately. And I would go see actual Corbusier homes in real life and just talk about, you know, why did they design it? They did like, the biggest glass panes that had ever been done. Like I say, I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body. It’s cool to bring all those vibes and then eventually come back to Rick [Rubin], because I would always think about Def Jam.

Art Basel Arrives in Hong Kong

Athens-based Bernier/Eliades gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong. (Courtesy MCH Messe Schweiz)

Art Basel continues its expansion, adding yet another stop on the global art calendar. Post-Frieze New York and pre-Venice, it’s all about Hong Kong, where the first edition of Art Basel Hong Kong opened to the public today. The Swiss company that owns Art Basel entered the Asian market with a splash in 2011 with its acquisition of Asian Art Fairs, the organizers of ART HK. Last year’s edition of that fair, established in 2008, kept the ART HK name, but now the neon pink-and-gray rebrand is complete, and 245 galleries (more than half from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region) have converged on the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Center for the third event in the Art Basel empire.

“The debut of Art Basel in Hong Kong is but one example of the global reach of today’s art world, and yet I have to think that Art Basel Hong Kong forces a confrontation with its locale in ways that differ from Art Basel Miami, perhaps, or even Art Basel in Basel,” said Pauline Yao, curator at the new M+ museum, at Sunday’s kickoff panel at the Asia Society Center in Hong Kong. “Perhaps this stems from an appreciation of difference and a desire to have a more nuanced understanding of the context here and as well to recognize that Hong Kong has its own legacy of artistic production.” Yao also pointed to the “topophilia” of Hong Kong. “There’s a strong sense of place or love for a certain kind of place which overwhelmingly becomes mixed with a cultural identity,” she said. “So even if we admit that the power of place is increasingly diminished and occasionally lost here it certainly thrives, with implications that are quite complex.”

Seven Questions for Design Miami Director Marianne Goebl

(Photo: Richard Patterson for Design Miami)

The countdown to Basel is on, and this year Design Miami/Basel moves to a Herzog & de Meuron-designed home in the new permanent exhibition hall. The eighth edition of the Basel fair is also shaping up to be the biggest yet. “We’ll have about fifty percent more galleries than last year,” Design Miami director Marianne Goebl told us during a recent trip to New York. “And we’re expanding our geographical reach. For the first time in Basel we’ll have a gallery from South Africa, Southern Guild. We’ll also have a first-time participant from Beirut, Carwan Gallery, which will present the work of India Mahdavi.”

A Vitra veteran who took over from founding director Ambra Medda in February 2011, Goebl has succeeded in freshening up Design Miami for an audience that ranges from die-hard design fans to newcomers who strolled over from the neighboring art megafair. “I have this very naïve mission of wanting to communicate to a large audience that design matters,” she says. “Everybody lives with design, whether they want to or not. Not everyone can make choices, but to a certain degree a lot of people can make choices and I think that not enough people do it…until now.” We asked Goebl about how she became interested in design, what’s in store for Basel, and if she believes the 3D printing hype.

How did you become interested in design?
I thought I would end up in the arts, so growing up in Vienna and already when I was a teenager and during my studies [in economics], I always worked in galleries and museums. I interned at the Museum for Applied Arts, worked for an art gallery for three years, and really felt like I wanted this to be part of my life, but then designer friends of mine took me to Milan [Salone Internazionale del Mobile] when I was maybe 22. This whole new world opened up and I realized that in design I could find…conceptual thinking, but also something beyond that, which is tangible and really part of everyday life. And I felt that this is what I wanted to be part of.

Since taking over as director in 2011, what have you found particularly surprising about your job or the fair itself?
What I’ve really learned over the last two years–and what I hope to continue in the future–is that Design Miami can speak to different types of people. First there’s an audience of general enthusiasts, people who are just really interested in design. They may not be interested in buying something, but it doesn’t matter. They can just come [to the fair], get all of the information, ask all of their questions, see the material, interact, use it as a forum. And on the other end of the spectrum, we can reach an audience that can actually help fuel the market and help designers to continue their research and to tell their stories. I don’t want to call it two levels, because it’s not necessarily two different levels, but it’s a broad spectrum of audience, and that wasn’t clear to me before I joined Design Miami.

Tell us about Design Miami’s new location for Basel in June.
In Basel this will be Design Miami’s fourth location. It’s like an itinerant fair! It brings a lot of opportunities, because first, it’s a brand new hall with great architecture. It’s part of the fairground of the Basel convention center. They built a bridge across two buildings on a public plaza. There’s a skylight. It’s in the middle of activities. And then the fair will unfold in the bridge. And there’s moments when you can overlook the square, so it’s nice to communicate with the outside world. I would say it is sophisticated, industrial, not at like a sleek, carpeted convention center.

And Design Miami will also have another space, in addition to the main fair?
We’ll have an additional space that we did not have before in Basel, on the ground floor, where we’ll be able to stage a design performance. We’re working with a German designer who collaborates with dancers. It will be about the relationship between the maker and the object. It will be an ongoing thing, so that every time you come something else will be happening.
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Glithero Brings Curvy Contemplation to Design Miami

“Lost Time” by Glithero for Perrier-Jouet at Design Miami 2012. (Photo: Petr Krejci)

Chairs, glorious chairs, are everywhere at Design Miami, but no one sits for long. Collectors, dealers, journalists, and the odd celebrity (who knew Will Ferrell was a design buff?) stream through the fair at different speeds and with varying agendas: see Maarten de Ceulaer’s latest “mutations,” close the sale on the Nakashima bench, locate a friend and a chocolate dulce de leche pie ($7 at the catering stand), nab a seat for Stefano Tonchi’s on-stage chat with Diane von Furstenberg, load up on free magazines. A welcome pause from this year’s frenzy was offered by Glithero, the design duo of Tim Simpson and Sarah van Gameren.

The London-based studio was commissioned by Perrier-Jouët to create an installation that honored the champagne house’s Art Nouveau heritage (that famous flowered bottle was the result of a 1902 collaboration with artist Emile Gallé). “We sought to work with a designer that has the Art Nouveau dimension in his or her DNA,” Axelle de Buffevent, brand style director for Martell Mumm-Perrier-Jouët, told us in Miami. “With Glithero, you immediately see that their work is very inspired by nature, by the processes of nature.”

Long fascinated by processes ranging from artisanal craftsmanship to industrial production methods, Simpson and van Gameren responded to Perrier-Jouët’s commission by creating “Lost Time” (pictured), a darkened chamber strung with skeins of shot beads that dripped from the ceiling like glamorous ghosts of stalactites—or champagne flutes. The swooping volumes, inspired in part by Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, were reflected in a shallow pool of water, an infusion of moisture that heightened the cave-like atmosphere (and winked at the humidity that awaited on the other side of the air-conditioned tent).
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Nifty, Gifty: Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Lincoln Center Inside Out

Diller Scofidio + Renfro excels at inversion, masterly flipping concepts of public and private, nature and structure (see also: High Line, The). The interdisciplinary design studio’s transformation of New York’s Lincoln Center is revealed in the pages of Lincoln Center Inside Out: An Architectural Account, hot off the Damiani presses. Falling somewhere on the continuum between art book and architectural diary, the monograph chronicles the extensive redevelopment project through photographs, drawings, renderings, texts, and interviews. Upping the book’s giftability quotient are the series of 30 gatefolds: large-format photographs by the likes of Iwan Baan and Matthew Monteith that open up to stories and ephemera documenting the spaces shown in the images.

In Miami? So are Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro. The trio will be signing books today at Design Miami from 1-2 p.m. before heading across the street to chat with Ari Wiseman, deputy director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, as part of the Art Salon series at Art Basel Miami Beach.

This is part of a series of elegantly wrapped December posts about desirable goods that we suggest you purchase with the laudable yet vague intent of giving to others and then keep for yourself. Got a “nifty, gifty” idea? Tell the UnBeige elves: unbeige (at)

Previously on UnBeige:
Nifty, Gifty: Rodarte’s Out-of-This-World Ornament
Nifty, Gifty: Crate&Barrel 50th Anniversary Teapot

Quote of Note | Vito Acconci

“When I thought of myself as a writer in the 1960s, I questioned what made me go from the left to the right margin, from one page to another. As I thought of the space I was also thinking about time. Then I thought: ‘Why am I limiting myself to a piece of paper when there’s a world out there?’ I focused on performance in the early 1970s because the common language of the time was ‘finding oneself.’ In a time like that, what else could I do but turn in on myself and then go from me to you? Photography, film, and video were sidesteps–spaces in front of you–whereas I was more interested in the space where you were in the middle. Now I’m involved with peopled spaces–that’s design and architecture.”

-Vito Acconci, whose Acconci Studio is Design Miami’s 2012 Designer of the Year, in an interview published today in the Art Basel edition of The Art Newspaper

Acconci Studio Named Design Miami’s 2012 Designer of the Year

This just in: Brooklyn-based architecture and design collaborative Acconci Studio, founded in 1988 by Vito Acconci, will be honored as Designer of the Year at this year’s Design Miami, (December 5-9 in Miami Beach). Awarded to a designer or studio “that has made a mark on design history, pushing the boundaries of the discipline through a singularly innovative and influential vision,” the honor has been bestowed in previous years on the likes of Zaha Hadid, Konstantin Grcic, and David Adjaye.

Among the perks of winning Designer of the Year is the opportunity to whip up a large-scale installation. These commissions have typically consisted of site-specific, temporary installations for the fair iself, but now Design Miami is setting its sights on projects that will be both permanent and public. Acconci Studio will get the ball rolling with “Klein-Bottle Playground,” the Moebius strip-style climbing structure in the above rendering. Originally developed for the “Art for the World” program, as part of a touring exhibition of experimental recreational equipment and toys for refugee children, it will be permanently installed in the Miami Design District in 2014. The structure was inspired by the German mathematician Felix Klein, whose “Klein Bottle” had no identifiable “inside” or “outside.” Acconci Studio’s playground-ready riff will consists of a series of tubes extending out from and into a central sphere, allowing children to climb in, through, and on top of it.

First Look: W Hotels Designers of the Future Projects Debut at Design Miami/Basel

‘Tis the season for Art Basel, which runs through Sunday in Basel, Switzerland. After yesterday’s private preview, Design Miami/Basel opened to the public today with a roster of 40 participating galleries that includes first-time exhibitors such as New York’s Salon 94, Heritage Gallery from Moscow, and Paris-based Galerie Dutko. The fair also marks the debut of freshly commissioned works by the 2012 W Hotels Designers of the Future: Tom Foulsham (United Kingdom), Markus Kayser (Germany), and Philippe Malouin (Canada). Inaugurated in 2006, the award honors “up-and-coming designers and studios that are expanding the field of design.” This year’s winners were challenged to create work that sheds light on their own creative process. With the theme “From Spark to Finish,” the brief was to demonstrate how the spark of inspiration evolves into material designs through projects will involve an interactive element. Here’s a first look at what each of them came up with… Read more