Inside Design Miami 2022: traditional craft and contemporary design collide

Design Week travelled to Miami and found designers visualising an innovative future, which incorporates the best of the past in a sustainable way.

Design Miami 2022 returned for its 18th edition this year to look at design through the lens of The Golden Age, an imagined future where people and the planet thrive.

This year was the first time since the COVID pandemic started that the fair has run in its full capacity with 50 galleries and Curios taking part. Design Miami CEO Jen Roberts notes the increased demand for collectible design works across historical and contemporary pieces alike, adding that this year’s show was “a true expression of [the] convergence” between design, fashion, art and technology.

Award winners

Sarah Myerscough Gallery space at Design Miami

The Best Gallery award was a tie between London-based artist-designer-makers Sarah Myerscough Gallery and New York-based Magen H Gallery. The former prides itself on embracing both craft-making traditions and contemporary innovation, with the Design Miami collection – a highlight being Christopher Kurtz’s Skipping Stone Table – focussing on the interconnectedness of living things.

Magen H Gallery opted to focus on French post-war designers for its collection, featuring works by Paris-born furniture designer Pierre Chapo, Greek sculptor Philolaos Tloupas and architect and designer Charlotte Perriand.

Fumi Gallery space at Design Miami

London-based Gallery Fumi’s collection embraced experiments in materials and sought to explore how objects can shape ideas. Many of the objects were handmade through techniques like carving, glassblowing, and lacquering, as its aim is to promote the value of craftmanship while offering a contemporary output. A pair of Max Lamb Cleft Chairs, which were carved from a single Sycamore log and covered in 23.5 carat gold and platinum leaf, won the Best Contemporary Work award for the gallery.

Material innovation

Kohler presents Transcendence by Nada Debs at Design Miami 2022. Credit: James Harris.

Manufacturing company Kohler collaborated with artist and designer Nada Debs on Transcendence, a custom Turkish hammam experience that seeks to be culturally inclusive, sustainable and innovative. The three-room installation incorporates the archway aesthetic of traditional Turkish steam rooms and is made from hand-crafted custom tiles designed by Debs and the Kohler WasteLAB team.

Kohler WasteLAB is a branch of the manufacturer dedicated to turning landfill bound waste products into functional and stylish products. Both the body and glaze for the hammam’s tiles are made from waste. Combining the spiritual experience of the hammam with the repurposing of waste materials offers guests a visual comparison of the process of rejuvenation and what it means for people and the planet alike.

Gleaning Mirror, 2022 by Aleksandra Pollner at Wexler Gallery. Credit: Wexler Gallery

Represented by the multidisciplinary Wexler Gallery, Polish artist and designer Aleksandra Pollner exhibited her Gleaning collection made up of a white rimmed mirror with inset crystal-like forms and an onyx black table.

During the pandemic lockdowns, Pollner started collecting discarded Styrofoam on her walks. The material became part of her circular design practice and her most recent collections were born out of historical methods of papier-mâché, incorporated Styrofoam as a core material alongside industrial clay.

Honouring culture

Ippodo Gallery at Design Miami 2022. Credit: James Harris

Making its debut at Design Miami, Tokyo and New York-based Ippodo Gallery brought a variety of craft-oriented pieces that sought to engage with Japanese art and culture and the notion of “the fragility of nature”. The work of 22 artists and designers was showcased in the space, with a special focus on work from twelve surface-active artists.

One of the artists, Terumasa Ikeda, specialises in raden, which is a Japanese decorative technique used in traditional crafts and woodwork. Ikeda took a black urushi lacquer surfaced box (urushi is a highly prized and refined material in Japan) and adorned it with opalescent laser-cut Arabic numerals, mimicking LED digital displays. The ornament seeks to exemplify how traditional techniques and contemporary ideas can intersect through design.

Rock/Roll by Germane Barnes. Credit: James Harris

Germane Barnes set out to pay homage to the Black and Indigenous people of colour in his Miami Rock|Roll installation, which appeared on the streets of the Design District neighbourhood. The bright, multicoloured pods – made of foam pool noodles – are giant interpretations of carnival head pieces.

Barnes designed them to be interacted with by visitors who were invited to sit inside as they rock rhythmically back and forth, imitating the pulses in the African and East Indian Soca music.

Banner Image: Design Miami 2022 Fair Exterior. Credit: James Harris

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