After a long pandemic-driven hiatus, Design Miami was back in 2021, presenting a fabulous selection of new designs to feed your inner creativity. Crowds attending the 17th edition experienced interactive installations and viewed new furnishings, lighting, accessories and more.
This year, the fair expanded its digital offerings by launching a mobile app, offering a curated selection of NFTs for sale and being the first major fair to accept cryptocurrency payment.
Even better, if one of our highlights below strikes your fancy, you can explore more by taking a 3D curated tour.
Fresh, Innovative Works We Loved at Design Miami 2021
Play-doh Inspired Sink
Inspired by playing with Play-doh with his kids and crafted with 3D printing technology, New York artist Daniel Arsham created Rock.01, an edition of 99 authentic 3D-printed vessel bathroom sinks.
In this collaboration with Kohler, the sink intentionally shows evidence of 3D printing. Arsham paired the vessel with a matte, hand-cast brass fixture for textural contrast. The sink was displayed atop an installation of stone-like objects and forms.
Native Craft in Focus
Another collaboration at Design Miami 2021 was with Fendi, which enlisted MABEO, the furniture and accessories brand from Botswana, to create a collection of items that is a representation of the different craft techniques from his native country.
The 10 pieces in the collection bring together a range of styles and views, one of which is this Chichira Cabinet. It is a unique piece created with a basket-woven process.
Born in Fire
These vessels may look like highly polished wood, but they are actually made from burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay, created by artist Madoda Fani. These were presented by Southern Guild of Cape Town, South Africa, which was awarded Best Gallery Presentation. The entire booth was set up like an artist’s studio and featured all ceramic works.
A Collection for Healing
Designer Bea Pernia used the experience of cast two years to create the Atus Collection, which aims to connect nature’s healing properties to our daily lives. It is crafted from Portuguese marble and sold white oak. Each piece pays homage to the materials and is a very creative expression.
A Fabulous Return
After a decade-long absence, Tom Dixon returned to Design Miami with a number of amazing pieces. From a massive canopy bed in polished brass to a light tower made from transistor panels, it was a fun and functional collection.
This is the HYDRO Chair, made from aluminum so light, two of us could easily lift it using one finger each. Made in collaboration with global aluminum producer, Hydro, the chair is strong, fun and super lightweight.
Entitled “Afternoon Tea,” Lara Bohinc’s five-piece collection is crafted from marble as well as upholstered pieces. She designed the pieces during the quarantine period and wanted to create things that make people feel loved and happy — and that look good enough to eat, she says.
This desk, made from rosa portugalo marble, has its rounded, puffy elements that are meant to look like sponge fingers and an Austrian pastry.
We’ve seen — and very much loved — Brecht Wright Gander’s massive, otherworldly lighting pieces and now there are table lamp versions that have their own charm. This diminutive version was presented by Room57Gallery and is no less intriguing than the oversized iteration.
A Unique Silhouette
Being suckers for a great sofa, we were immediately drawn to this one presented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Made from cast brass and mohair the unique design of the Italian sofa is long, elegant and opulent. Despite the subtle color and understated silhouette. it grandly dominates the space.
Dark and Dramatic
Also from Carpenter’s Workshop, this Tomb Stag Chair was created by designer Rick Owens from black plywood and moose antlers. The limited-edition pieces are indeed whimsical conversation pieces.
A Famous Recreation
In a recreation of John Dickinson’s San Francisco residence –The Firehouse — the renowned designer’s home in an actual former firehouse, Converso presented some of the important original elements. Dickinson made his name as a “renegade” designer back in the 1960s and 1970s.
It was tough to pick from all the great pieces shown but this drapey-looking tin side table might not be the most well-known but it was one of our favorites.
Past and Present Melded
The Agnes Studio Lana Chair is part of the Lana Collection from AGO Projects of Mexico. The pieces explore contrasts like that between the past and the future and ancient materials and techniques in a futuristic context.
Agnes Studio creates the object as “an alternate evolution of Mesoamerican symbolism in Pre-Columbian architecture and design.” It’s also a very cozy piece to relax in!
Friedman Benda gallery presented Daniel Arsham’s Rubble Couch, which has all the curves and an unconventional silhouette. Crafted from birch wood and bouclé upholstery, the limited edition of eight gives off a “Flintstones vibe” in the words of one fan. We love how the grain of the wood shines through the paint of the base.
Unique But Familiar
Voted the fair’s best contemporary work Halo by Bradley Bowers at The Future Perfect gallery is “something unique, while also being familiar.” Bowers hand-sculpts cotton paper for lighting fixtures that have an ethereal glow all their own. Light, shadow, creases and angles all come together into an exploration of balance, he writes. A second halo fixture displayed was a large wall light.
Pushing Material Boundaries
Also presented by The Future Perfect, these seats from Studio Floris Wubben really push the boundaries of ceramic possibilities. Instead of using a more traditional process, the clay forms are extruded — much like pasta is made — and then sliced into form.
The studio says that the pieces are at the same time hand-crafted and machine-made. The gallery director says the shape makes the pieces very tricky to fire successfully.
galleryALL of San Francisco brought a solo exhibition by Todomuta Studio to Miami, showing the austere pieces of the “Massless Collection.” Commissioned by the gallery, the pieces examine “the frontiers between art, design, and cutting-edge craftsmanship.”
The pieces in the collection are made from aluminum, and this Massless Double Bench incorporates leather. galleryALL says that Todomuta does not follow market trends and aims to “unnerve an audience” and show that acquiring pieces is not just an average act of consumption.
In another immersive installation this year, Crosby Studios founder Harry Nuriev created. The Bedroom, all done in shiny silver enclosed in a zen-like cube. The designer has been exploring spaces that are conceived as experiences of “traveling through different layers of space, reality, and consciousness.”
Nuriev aims to represent the space as an escape from reality and a place to experience all the types of consciousness and emotion you can have.
Global, Sustainable Design
With an earthy Seuss-like vibe, the solo exhibition by designer Khaled El Mays is eye-catching for many reasons. Presented by House of Today — a Beirut-based non-profit committed to fostering a sustainable design culture — the “New Nature” collection incorporates colorful shapes as well as a range of materials.
Collaborating with craftspeople in Mexico City, Mays created designs like this cabinet that feature leather and wood. Other pieces include raffia, wicker and ceramics.
Building on his innovative concrete designs, LA-based artist James De Wulf created the EXO Collection, which he showed at Design Miami 2021. The concrete designs are enhanced with the addition of metals are inspired by the “exoskeletons of microscopic organisms found on the ocean floor,” hence the name of the collection.
Using bronze, brass, steel, stainless steel, and iron, De Wulf blends the metals in a way that allows the surface of his works to be just three-quarters of an inch thick — with no visible seams in the metal of this gorgeous collection.
A Modern Take on the Butterfly
Designer Minkyu Lee created this one-of-a-kind Yellow Butterfly Chair that sold immediately. The modern design combines the shape of butterfly wings with a seating concept that is graphic and sturdy, unlike the typical ethereal quality usually ascribed to a butterfly. It was presented by the Mindy Solomon Gallery.
Alternative Ceramic Realities
Always big fans of ceramic artist Nick Weddell, his pieces have the feeling of being from some alternative reality and indeed they are inspired by the imaginary alternate universe he calls Zeefromzeglop. This table and vessel are a couple of our favorites — except for his pieces that include plenty of vicious-looking teeth!
A Twist on Tradition
This Twist Column Light by designer Eny Lee Parker is both traditionally elegant and yet unexpectedly modern at the same time. Presented by Objective Gallery, Lee’s ceramic piece is a stately one that can’t be ignored and becomes the focal point. She set out to change the function of a traditional column and its role in the space and we’d say she did so quite grandly and successfully.
Shedding Light with Nature
In its Design Miami debut, Pelle presented the Infinite Lure collection, which included this large-scale Nana Lure Chandelier. The works in the booth were examples of the studio’s proprietary hand-casting technique developed by Jean Pelle, who uses cotton linter to build.
Paper forms that capture the characteristics of nature. We’ve always found Pelle’s lighting fixtures to be stunning works of art and this is no exception.
Biological Evolution Made Functional
Presented by R & Company, Rogan Gregory’s functional pieces are inspired by his interest in the abstract, along with evolutionary and biological systems. This collection includes his Gorilla armchair and ottoman in black shearling, floor lamps from his Dune Light series and a three-legged coffee table in gypsum that has been tinted black.
Massive Blooms of Color
While Salon 94 Design presented functions works by the late designer Gloria Kisch, it was her giant, colorful flowers that drew attention to the booth. The solo presentation was framed by these wallflowers (which are actually the opposite of the definition!) and their explosion of color and dimension. Each is crafted from painted stainless steel.
One of the new collections to draw a lot of attention was the one titled “Rupture” by British designers Samuel Ross and Friedman Benda. The substantial marble furniture is perched on a much smaller powder-coated steel base done in Ross’ signature Safety Orange. This chair —Amnesia or platelet apparition? — is emblematic of the Rupture series, which grapples “with concepts of connection, severance, incongruity, and abstraction.”
Organic Craft Forms
Barcelona’s Side Gallery presented Tadeáš Podracky’s “The Metamorphosis,” a collection, that redefines contemporary craft. Podracky has meticulously hand-carved a series of pieces that add to his earlier creations in the collection. We love the organic look that avoids symmetry and its contrast with the colorful woven seat, reminiscent of an old-fashioned webbed folding chair.
Twenty First Gallery’s presentation was a dramatic collection of just a few pieces that featured resin cabinets by Marcin Rusak. In an homage to Josef Frank, one of early Vienna modernism’s foremost figures, Rusak’s Flora Temporaria evokes the feeling of a Flemish painting or a dark pond with flowers floating under water’s surface.
The flora suspended in the resin is in various states of bloom and decay, lending an ethereal and living feeling that is indescribable.
Design Miami 2021 named Wendell Castle’s Chest of Drawers at R & Company, the Best Historic Work. The original design for this piece featured six legs, but in 1966 Castle added five more “writhing” supports, for stability and aesthetics, with the help of some of his students at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Not seen here, castle actually carved his initials in the side of the cabinet.
Patrick Weder’s Kavrn Side Table/Stool has an anthropomorphic form that his works generally portray. He is inspired by naturally occurring forms and like to push the envelope when it comes to functional design. Crafted from onyx and polished concrete, these tables have an irresistible organic yet minimalist form. It was presented by Wexler Gallery.
So there you have our favorites from Design Miami 2021. It’s a long list but, between the extended pandemic hiatus and designers’ continued creativity during that period, we were hungry for all they had to show. As noted at the start, check out the app or the curated tours!