Art Market

Six Young Designers to Discover at Design Miami/

Kat Herriman
Dec 1, 2015 1:00AM

Thanks to the international crowd that flies into Miami for the year’s splashiest fair week, Design Miami/ is a valuable platform for young designers looking to cruise into the global marketplace. One breakout project with the right placement can jumpstart a career. Design Miami/’s Curio section is often a hotbed for new talent—at this year’s fair, Katie Stout, Jonathan Gonzalez, and Quintus Kropholler’s design concepts caught our attention. But they weren’t the only ones. Projects by young artists are scattered throughout the fair with highlights cropping up in unexpected places. Here, a look at the names you should not miss.

Laura Baldassari

b. 1985, Ravenna. Lives and works in Milan.

On view at Secondome

Portrait of Alberto Biagetti and Laura Baldassari by Delfino Sisto Legnani, courtesy of Secondome.


While Alberto Biagetti, with his Milan-based creative studio, has been in the design game for some time, his wife, artist Laura Baldassari, didn’t dip her toes into functionality until 2013, when Biagetti became her studiomate. “We have always pursued our own creative paths autonomously, expressing concepts in different ways. Of course, we have always bounced ideas off each other,” says Baldassari, who now works as Biagetti’s partner. “It was only natural that our professional paths should meet and fuse and ‘Body Building’ is really the culmination of this—the perfect balance between our two worlds.”

At Design Miami/, Baldassari and Biagetti’s “Body Building” collection will transform Secondome’s booth into an eye-catching, contemporary gym—complete with pommel horse bench and monkey bar lamp. Inspired by an abandoned exercise machine that became the couple’s default clotheshorse, the furniture series finds its roots in the humorous paradoxes of contemporary domesticity. “Although they look like gym pieces they are not intended to stress the body like real gym equipment, but to embrace it,” explains Baldassari of their joint collection. Playful yet elegant, the twosome is poised to take home top marks at the fair.

Lex Pott

b. 1985, Hilversum. Lives and works in Amsterdam.

On view at The Future Perfect

Portrait of Lex Pott in his Amsterdam studio by Jordi Huisman for Artsy.

Fragments Layered Shelf, 2015
The Future Perfect
Fragments Coffee Table Twin, 2015
The Future Perfect

After a serendipitous encounter with David Alhadeff of The Future Perfect at the 2015 Salone del Mobile in Milan, Dutch designer Lex Pott began sketching up potential ideas for a unique collaboration. “Miami gave us a concrete deadline,” says Pott, whose new capsule will be the focus of The Future Perfect’s upcoming Curio booth. “We both are exhibiting at the fair for the first time. It wasn’t until our application was accepted that we started thinking about the booth itself. That’s where Calico came in,” he said, of the New York-based wallpaper company, helmed by Nicholas and Rachel Cope, who designed the booth’s walls.

Fabricated from granite, marble, and other stones, Pott’s new rough-edged furniture collection, “Fragments,” will be paired with a special mineralized wall treatment dreamt up by the experimental design duo. “I’ve worked with stone before; it’s a natural material, and I really like the irregularities. I never understand why humans always try to standardize stone,” says Pott. “This collection is a mixture of cultivated forms, rational and geometric shapes, married with raw ones.”

Slabs of layered marble intersect broken quarry rocks, bringing attention to the binary tension between the natural and the manmade. Like his booth partner, Calico, Pott produced all his pieces locally. In fact, the final piece, a vase, will travel with the designer in his carry-on luggage.

Kristin Victoria Barron

b. 1980, Michigan. Lives and works in New York.

On view at Patrick Parrish

Portrait of Kristin Victoria Barron courtesy of the artist.

Alkahest Lamp, 2015
Patrick Parrish Gallery
Alkahest Candlestick (1), 2015
Patrick Parrish Gallery

Working from her dreams, Kristin Barron injects her whimsical sensibility into everything she touches, but it’s the designer’s laborious and methodical processes that bring these fantasies into reality. A Pratt graduate with a background in art history and sculpture, in her work Barron follows a unique assembly line that begins with a dream journal, where she religiously records her most visual hallucinations. Meditating back upon these entries, she creates a series of sketches and then models until she finds one she wants to make. “I repeat the forms again and again until I land on a shape,” says Barron. “I’m less interested in function and more interested in form.”

Her first time exhibiting at Design Miami/, Barron will share objects from “Alkahest”—her new tabletop collection inspired by a Gothic cathedral melting from the inside out—at Patrick Parrish’s booth. “There was this lava substance that was pouring out of the cracks and the windows and that became the image I focused on,” explains Barron. “To create the sense of lava, I use this process where I hot pour wax into cold water, and then manipulate it,” she says. “I am really interested in meaning and process; I really believe that objects possess the energy with which they are made.”

Katie Stout

b. 1989, Maine. Lives and works in Brooklyn.

On view at Cultured Magazine

Katie Stout in her Brooklyn studio. Photo by Clemens Kois, courtesy of the artist.

Hi Chew Chair, 2015
Gallery Diet
Bedroom Curio, 2015
Gallery Diet

After Katie Stout’s win on the HGTV show Ellen’s Design Challenge, the hype around the young designer reached a fever pitch. Stout is represented in New York by Johnson Trading Gallery and by Miami’s Gallery Diet, and quickly gained a following for her rambunctious palette and fearless use of materials. At Design Miami/, for its Curio booth concept, Cultured Magazine decided to give the nervy designer a carte blanche platform. Her concept? A girl’s room.

“My bedroom is for a girl who is not yet a woman. A girl, who still listens to Britney Spears, but whose parents are obsessed with gender neutrality and encourage her to anything she wants,” laughs Stout, describing her teeny bopper-themed boudoir. “She is desperately a teenager and all of the furniture embodies that feeling of tension, as she wavers between thinking everything is important and nothing matters.”

Stout didn’t forget the trimmings. Her installation encompasses a dizzying array of girly goodies: a bed, a dresser, a hamper, and the pièce de résistance—custom wallpaper with matching curtains. “I don’t know how to speak about it yet, because it isn’t completely finished,” says the designer, who was still packing her show for the road. “I just hope everything makes it.” 

Quintus Kropholler

b. 1989, Naarden. Lives and works in Amsterdam.

On view at Chamber NYC

Portrait of Quintus Kropholler by Loek Blonk.

"Black Gold Vase II", 2014
"Black Gold Bench", 2014

“It is not that often you get a chance to manifest a completed idea,” says Dutch designer Quintus Kropholler of his immersive solo booth for Chamber NYC. “Of course it was a lot of hard work, but it’s far beyond what I imagined to be the next step in my young career.” A continuation of a series he began in 2014, the installation, “Black Gold,” is Kropholler’s dazzling solo vision, which celebrates the unlikely beauty of asphalt, an ancient material with both fine art and construction applications. Within the booth, new pieces created specifically for Chamber headline amongst work from Kropholler’s first experiments—his sparkling onyx-colored mirror and stool are applause-worthy additions.

Thinking about the show with an immersive environment in mind, the designer decided to cover the floor with the same gravel that usually gives asphalt its architecture—a rough foil to the smoothness of his furniture. “Oil consumption has driven centuries of technology—it’s become a driving force behind civilizations throughout history,” says Kropholler. Indeed, the sand and gravel used in construction is often extracted during oil drilling. “For this collection, we chose to use North Sea Crude, so it’s actually a very local product. I like the idea that you could also source gravel for this in many places around the world.”

Jonathan Gonzalez

b. 1981, Miami. Lives and works in Miami.

On view at Giovanni Beltran

Portrait of Jonathan Gonzalez by Office GA.

The local flavor is strong at Miami-based designer Jonathan Gonzalez’s Curio booth with Miami design agency Giovanni Beltran. A play off of a collaboration they started in 2014, the exhibition encompasses six pieces that together comprise a singular installation, which Gonzalez refers to as The Storefront. “They are not props, they are individual pieces of design that work together to form a single composition,” explains Gonzalez of his holistic vision. “With the scale of the fair, it made sense to fully saturate the territory we had, and to create something that could be viewed in one moment, something that could be read as one composition.”

Gonzalez’s fully fleshed out display features a variety of projects, both objects and furniture, some created specially for the fair. Two of the pieces were made for a previous project examining the state of Miami’s architecture and design. Those critical works became the jumping off point for his booth concept. “The Miami-ness was an active concern,” says Gonzalez. “There is this collective memory of Miami, that still exists in all of our psyche, but is arguably no longer there. We wanted these pieces to have an awareness not only of their function but their location.”

Kat Herriman