My Highlights from Design Miami/ Basel 2014

Dennis Freedman
Jun 9, 2014 11:25PM

It is not an easy task to single out a small number of pieces in a design exhibition of this scale and quality. However, I have chosen the works that “speak” to me; the pieces that inspire me. In the end, what I look for is poetry.  

My Selection:

Otto WagnerSet of four ceiling lamps from the dispatch bureau of daily newspaper “Die Zeit”, 1902, at Yves Macaux

This set of ceiling lamps beautifully expresses the singular vision of this brilliant architect and urban planner. Wagner incorporated many of the new materials and forms developed in the late 1800s in Austria. This is a great piece by an extraordinary architect who designed the iconic Postal Office Savings Bank Building in Vienna.

Eske RexDivided Self 1, 2014, at Galerie Maria Wettergren

Eske Rex is one of the most intriguing designers working today. Trained as a carpenter and joiner, he now creates work on the border of art and design. His installation piece Drawing Machine is a highlight of the Design at Large exhibition.

André BorderieRectangular dish, 1960, at Thomas Fritsch-ARTRIUM

This rectangular ceramic dish by André Borderie is one of the most hauntingly beautiful objects I have ever seen. Like all great works of art, this dish is ambiguous, mysterious, and elusive. The influence of Paul Klee is apparent, however Borderie has developed a language of his own. At a time when many artists and designers rely on large scale to provide impact, Borderie shows how the most intimate of objects can be the most powerful.

Yonel LeboviciLes Mains Chaudes fireplace, 1979, at Galerie Chastel-Maréchal

This brilliant aluminum and polyester surrealist fireplace was designed by one of France’s most idiosyncratic artists. Lebovici rejected commercial production, in favor of very limited series and one-off pieces. This is a singular piece that is both poetic and disturbing.

The Jacobs BrothersRack and pinion desk-table from the collection of the Villa Reale di Marlia, ca. 1800, at Steinitz

Rack and pinion desk-table from the collection of the Villa Reale di Marlia, ca. 1800

This extraordinary desk-table by the Jacob Brothers is one of the standout pieces in the exhibition. Created by one of the most influential furniture workshops in Paris and inspired by antiquity, this piece is the ultimate example of how exquisite craftsmanship combined with inspired design can produce a masterful, timeless, work of art.

Jean Royèrechauffeuse, ca. 1950, at Galerie Jacques Lacoste

This is one of the most seductive pieces of furniture that I have ever seen by Jean Royère. I have always admired his work, but this is the single piece of his that inspires and fascinates me.

Axel SaltoSprouting Vase, ca. 1940, at Jason Jacques Inc.

Sprouting Vase, ca. 1940
Jason Jacques Inc.

I have seen many ceramic pieces by Axel Salto, but this vase, in my opinion, is the most extraordinary. The sprouting tendrils, covering the entire surface of the piece, electrifies this simple vase into something undefinable and unforgettable.

Ron NagleIndecent Docent, 2014, at Pierre Marie Giraud

In her review of one of  Ron Nagle’s solo exhibitions at Garth Clark Gallery in New York, Roberta Smith, art critic of the New York Times, wrote, “Mr. Nagle works small but thinks big. His ambition, inventiveness and superb craft make his art capacious to both mind and eye.” It is evident that his exploration and experimentation continues to this day.

Dennis Freedman