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.

(Photo: Priveekollektie Contemporary)
No one can resist shimmery gumballs. Dutch design gallery Priveekollektie featured the Murano glass clusters of French-born, Milan-based Emmanuel Babled. This floor lamp and chandelier, both 2009, are from his “Digit” series.

(Photo: Moss)
Epoxy resin meets broccoli from Euclid’s garden in “Fractal.mgx,” a 2007 table from .MGX by Materialise exhibited by Moss.

(Photo: UnBeige)
New York gallery Cristina Grajales Inc. spotlighted the hand-woven, polymer-encased glass lights of Ayala Serfaty, who points to Eva Hesse as a key inspiration.

(Photo: UnBeige)
A shot of the Swarovski Crystal Palace installation by architect Greg Lynn, who—with the assistance of computer-guided robots—suspended 1,500,000 crystals between translucent panels of carbon and mylar laminate sails.

(Photo: Studio Job)
VIVID Gallery of Rotterdam, in conjunction with the Zuiderzee Museum, exhibited the complete installation of Studio Job’s “Farm” for the first time in the United States. These bronze, rosewood, and glass objects would have prevented a lot of strife on Green Acres.

(Photo: UnBeige)
Dutch designer Lotty Lindeman‘s “Tassenkast” (2009), exhibited by Priveekollektie, blends luggage with furniture. The series of sturdy suitcases can also be used as cupboards.

(Photo: Mitterand+Cramer)
Geneva-based gallery Mitterand+Cramer let in a breath of fresh air with Studio Makkink and Bay’s “Vase Cabinet” (2009), the perfect accent to a windowless cubicle.

(Photos: UnBeige)
Ben Jones‘s “Beehaven” series (exhibited by Johnson Trading Gallery) and Sebastian+Barquet reach great heights in their Design Miami installations.

(Photo: UnBeige)
Droog’s Miami transportation solution: the battery-powered flipflop.

(Photo: UnBeige)
What to get the man who has everything? How about Dutch designed Ted Noten‘s flower-embossed gold uzi? Sealed in acrylic and ready for toting (but probably not through airport security), it features a poetic declaration—Oh my sweet perfumed jewel!—on the silencer.

Pictured at top: Pieke Bergmans’s “Crystal Virus: Massive Infection,” 2009, exhibited by Droog at Design Miami (Photo: Droog)