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art basel design miami

W Hotels Buys Branding Rights for Design Miami/Basel’s Annual Award


The branded design award is nothing new at all — just two posts earlier, we were mentioning the Brit Insurance Design Awards — and there’s set to be a new one starting this year. W Hotels have announced at the Salone del Mobile in Milan that they’ve just signed on (see: paid a lot of sponsorship money) to have Design Miami/Basel‘s annual award renamed the W Hotels Designers of the Future Award. The switch is effective immediately, as they’ve also announced the winners of this year’s awards: Beta Tank, Graham Hudson, rAndom International, and Zigelbaum & Coelho. The W’s press release only mentions the winners in passing, but Dezeen, whose editor-in-chief served on the award’s selection committee, has a thorough rundown on each.

At Design Miami, Moss Marshals McClure’s Mechanical Menagerie

(Photo: UnBeige)

(mcclure).jpgAmong our favorite finds at Design Miami, which wrapped up Saturday in the sunny city’s Design District, is the metal menagerie created by Cathy McClure and exhibited by Moss. The 13-member family of mechanically articulated “Bots” includes cats and dogs (pictured above, “My Good Friend” and “Bassett“), a horse named Buck, and a prize piglet (“Some Pig“) who is up on his E.B. White classics. McClure’s charming bronzes suggest creatures rescued from the burn unit of a doll hospital or plucked from the aisles of a Toys”R”Us in hell. Their post-apocalyptic quality is the product of deconstruction and reconstruction. McClure begins with plush robotic toys that she skins to their plastic bones. Preserving the mechanical organs, she disassembles the carcasses and then recasts the limbs and armatures in bronze, eventually revivifying them with the original circuit boards, batteries, gears, and voice-boxes. For McClure, the work is about juxtaposing disposable objects with unique pieces. “The underlying plastic object embodies more potential for my imagination than the stuffed object layered with intricate marketing identities,” notes McClure in a statement posted on her website. “This contrast between the discarded forgotten object and the cherished precious one underscores societal contradictions and reintroduces us to the magical quality of flipping frogs, drumming monkeys, and slowly turning carousels.”

(Photo: Moss)

What Time Is It, Mr. Baas?

The designer of the year installation at Design Miami, featuring the work of Maarten Baas.

DM_mb.jpgWhat are the boundaries of design? When this question was posed to Charles Eames in 1969, he responded famously in the interrogative: “What are the boundaries of problems?” Forty years later, Design Miami asked Maarten Baas, its 2009 Designer of the Year, the same question concerning where design begins and ends. “Every day there are only 24 hours in which that day has to happen,” replied Baas, 31, in an interview published in the Design Miami catalogue.

The Dutch designer eschews definitions. “I believe in a kind of organic way of seeing things,” he said, “like a super-soup in which everything is moving.” Several of the most recent projects to emerge from his super-soup were on view at Design Miami as part of a special exhibition that included the first stateside retrospective of Baas’s career (charred chairs, clay fans, Flinstone-y office furniture). Among the most crowd-pleasing was “Real Time,” a series of work that injects an eye-catching human element into the documentation of time passing. His “Grandfather Clock” (pictured above) replaces the conventional clock face with a 12-hour looped film of a man drawing the clock hands (or is he trapped inside?), while the “Sweeper Clock” keeps time with carefully tended piles of garbage. Baas has even found a way to humanize the blazing red digits of a digital clock, to mesmerizing effect. Make time to see Baas’s works in action—videos are posted below.

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Organic Innovation Bubbles Up at Design Miami

design_miami.jpgIf you haven’t yet had the good fortune to attend Design Miami, the discipline-defying modern design extravaganza that follows Art Basel around like an impossibly hip younger sibling, it involves walking very short distances and pausing to allow for intense emotional reactions. There is much gasping, glee, pointing, and the occasional grimace as fairgoers scrutinize objects that they instantly want to own, hug, abscond with, or circle cautiously. Even the coolest collectors, freshly alighted from a VIP SUV, find it impossible to keep their eyebrows level.

For its fifth year, Design Miami was back at its 2008 site in Miami’s burgeoning Design District, which has gained a cultural anchor in the 30,000-square-foot de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space that opened Thursday. Inside a futuristic temporary structure (pictured above) designed by New York-based architectural studio Aranda\Lasch, Design Miami’s international roster of exhibiting galleries (14) was down by more than a third compared to last year, but design fans know that quality trumps quantity every time. Veteran exhibitors (Moss, Galerie Patrick Seguin), fresh faces (Droog, Paul Kasmin Gallery), and top-notch curation mixed with innovative programming that included animated chats with the likes of Christian Louboutin and Gaetano Pesce, an installation dedicated to Designer of the Year Maarten Baas, and a series of mind-blowing concerts by OK Go (we’re working on editing our amateur video footage). After taking it all in, we put on our trendspotting glasses and detected a theme we’ve termed “bio-chaos”: organic shapes and forms, often run beautifully amuck. Below are some of our favorite things.

(Photos: UnBeige)
In addition to masterminding the fabric-wrapped setting of Design Miami, Aranda/Lasch was also the focus of an exhibition by Johnson Trading Gallery. Pictured here are the architectural studio’s undulating aluminum sculpture, which suggests a Mobius Strip reworked by the aforementioned Monsieur Louboutin, and walnut “Quasi” mirror.

(Photo: Ornamentum)
Which came first, the chicken or the egg-necklace? Russian-born Sergey Jivetin‘s “Poultry Accumulus Necklace” (2009), exhibited by Ornamentum.

(Photo: UnBeige)
Ornamentum also debuted new sculptural works by Idiots, the Dutch duo who are to thank for this sextet of wall-mounted rabbit heads.

(Photo: UnBeige)
We’ll toast to Tom Dixon‘s “Comete” geodesic lamps, created for Veuve Clicquot from the champagne house’s signature goldenrod packaging. The lamps were given away for free on Saturday, the final day of the fair.

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At Art Basel Miami, a Little Something for Everyone

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(Photos: UnBeige))

Sunny and downright steamy Miami is awash in black ensembles and chunky eyewear as Art Basel Miami Beach, Design Miami, and the growing list of parallel fairs—we counted 14—are in full swing. Hotels are hopping, from the budget-priced Days Inn (we liked its low-fi marquee, pictured above) to the slick Setai and the freshly renovated Fontainebleau, where the rooms are decorated with John Baldessari prints and the legacy of Morris Lapidus endures. Over at the convention center, where a mind-boggling 265 galleries are exhibiting their wares, Wednesday’s seizure of $6 million worth of paintings from Gmurzynska gallery made the front page of yesterday’s special edition of The Art Newspaper, but all was calm when we stopped by the booth, which is dominated by a giant Yves Klein canvas. Among the celebrities spotted prowling the aisles so far: Steve Wynn (who snapped up a 2007 James Rosenquist canvas from Acquavella), John McEnroe, Calvin Klein, and Sylvester Stallone, who has taken up painting himself. We also spied fashion designer Peter Som and oodles of art folks, including Ai Weiwei, Richard Prince, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Eli Broad, and Glenn Lowry. The mood is upbeat, a marked improvement over last year but nothing near the frenetic vibe of 2007. With so much to see and do in Miami in just a few days, we’re taking the advice of artist Santiago Sierra, whose monumental sculpture is among the 13 works displayed in the public spaces of Miami Beach as part of the fair’s Art Projects division. His truck-bound 2009 work (pictured below) offers a concise answer to the eternal question: Can I manage to see it all?

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Santiago Sierra, “NO,” 2009

Marshal Raids and Audi Unveils at Art Basel Miami


While Stephanie is down in Florida this week to take in all that is Art Basel Miami, we feel the need to remind you that she is not there to do anything illegal or against court order. Absolutely not. We don’t want her to get into trouble with any U.S. Marshals who apparently were all over the place right before the art fair opened on Wednesday. They were there to confiscate a series of paintings by the likes of Degas and Miro that were caught in the middle of “an insurance dispute between two dealers,” reports Bloomberg. Fortunately, it sounds as though everything has since been resolved and if you want to buy said Degas and Miros, they’re now available.

The works had hung in the booth of Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska among paintings and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Robert Indiana and actor Sylvester Stallone.

Artworks have never been seized by authorities in Art Basel Miami Beach’s 8-year history, said Sara Fitzmaurice, a fair spokeswoman.

Also, in another weird bit from Miami, the car company Audi has used the art fair to unveil one of its latest models. The company is one of the prime sponsors behind Art Basel, so we can understand having cars there to show off, but it seems a little odd to do a complete announcement at an art buying show, even if you hire tabloid-heavies Chris Noth and Lucy Liu to pose next to it. Automobile says Liu “should not quit her day job” and the Miami Herald tries to explain why the company would to the unveil here and spend “upwards of $10 million” in the process.

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At Design Miami, the 2011 Audi A8 is full size—it’s the lamp, furniture, and coffee table books that are gargantuan. (Photos: UnBeige)

Spotted at Art Basel Miami: Michael Jackson on Horseback

mj.jpgThe King of Pop’s presence can be felt at Art Basel Miami Beach, the mega art fair that began yesterday with a series of private openings. Among the artworks featured prominently at the booth of New York gallery Deitch Projects is Kehinde Wiley‘s “Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II” (at right) a Rubens riff that replaces the roundfaced Spanish monarch with Michael Jackson. The massive oil painting is approximately 20 feet long and 23 feet high. The work began as a commission for the pop star, according to the gallery. Early last year, Wiley received a phone call from one “Brother Michael,” an assistant to Jackson, who asked to commission a painting based on a photograph of Jackson on one of his album covers. Wiley asked to speak directly with Jackson, and the two later connected in a 25-minute phone conversation recorded by Wiley, who described Jackson as “solidly knowledgeable about painting and its processes.” They agreed on a collaboration in which Jackson would be photographed in a pose inspired by an Old Master painting and subsequently exchanged reference images, but the project soon lost steam, as Jackson’s assistants changed phone numbers nearly as fast as their boss hopped among Las Vegas hotels. Unable to make contact, Wiley ultimately abandoned the project but decided to revive it after Jackson’s death.

Art Basel Miami: When the Rich Cut Back


Art Basel is now over and Miami Beach can go back to the quaint fishing village it’s know as for most of the year. But before we officially bid farewell, we look to the things Alexandra Peers noticed at the art fair about how the current economic crisis has affected the art world, along with a few other tidbits of wisdom picked up along the way, bottling it all up in “Seven Things We Learned at Art Basel Miami.” Here’s one not so good sign:

3. Even for the superrich, it’s tough times. Halfway through a packed “Champagne and Canapes” brunch at the Cartier dome, the jeweler stopped serving Champagne. Gulp.

For more info on Art Basel, we recommend checking out our many insightful posts, of course. We’ve also been enjoying Art Info‘s complete coverage.

Friday Photo: (Sm)Art Cars Take Miami

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(Photo: Courtesy of Wolfsonian-FIU)

Tonight, on the eve of its hotly anticipated design marathon, the Wolfsonian-Florida International University museum hosts a “very Wolfsonian cocktail reception” to celebrate Francesco Vezzoli‘s “Democrazy” installation (first presented at last year’s Venice Biennale) and “Gridnik: Wim Crouwel and Modern Typography,” an exhibition in honor of the Dutch graphic designer’s 80th birthday. Guests of the Wolfsonian and the Cranbrook Academy of Art (where, as it happens, we played many a middle school volleyball game) will be zipped around Miami in a fleet of eight Smart Cars customized with colorful graphics by Cranbook artist-in-residence Elliott Earls and quotes about democracy by artists, architects, and designers including James Rosenquist, Zaha Hadid, John Baldessari, Enrique Norten, and Ross Lovegrove. “Democracy: there is no alternative,” opines Michael Graves, while Baldessari may well have text messaged his quote: “DEMOCRACY = 2B FREE 2B.” Our favorite democratic thought comes from designer Konstantin Grcic: “Democracy for people=YES! Democracy in design=NO!” The Smart project complements the Wolfsonian’s “Thoughts on Democracy” exhibition (on view through Sunday), for which more than 60 artists and designers created original works inspired by Norman Rockwell‘s “Four Freedoms” posters from 1943.

Wolfsonian to Host Graphic Design Marathon

wolfsonian-FIU.gifArt Basel Miami and Design Miami are like marathons, and by Saturday, overly ambitious fairgoers can find themselves exhausted, clutching their newly purchased canvases, melted footstools, and tattooed wooden gorillas whilst sobbing into a Marimekko cushion at The Standard. Avoid Art Basel burnout with a hefty helping of graphic design in the form of tomorrow’s Design Marathon hosted by the Wolfsonian-Florida International University museum in South Beach. Moderated by Design Matters diva Debbie Millman (so you know it’ll be good), the event will feature an all-star lineup of 25 artists and graphic designers, each of whom will take the stage for five minutes to “express themselves.” Among those poised for the challenge are Neville Brody, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand, Chip Kidd, Richard Tuttle, James Victore, and Lawrence Weiner. The “Five Minutes of Designed Freedom” slam kicks off at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow at the Wolfsonian, but get there early to catch photographer Martin Parr‘s book signing, which begins at noon. The museum promises that “special limited edition Wolfsonian Credit Crunch Portfolios” will be for sale—probably best to pay cash for yours.