New Work at Design Miami/ Basel 2013

Design Miami/ Basel 2013 contains a global swathe of design works that span a two-century time period, beginning with the early days of modernism and extending to the contemporary age – a time where that movement has experienced a sometimes simultaneous waxing and waning.

Every Design Miami/ fair hosts galleries and special exhibitions that show works which define today’s design culture – but there are also those works which are pushing that culture into the unknown territories of tomorrow. The 2013 fair is a watershed moment for innovative work, and all of the following pieces have never been seen before.

Anton Alvarez is a Swedish-Chilean designer based in London and Stockholm. Alvarez’s design practice explores the very production systems that turn out mass-produced objects, and his works at Gallery Libby Sellers epitomize such machine-based operations while promoting a handcrafted ideal. Made with a thread wrapping machine that he himself invented, Alvarez has made chairs, benches, and architectural combinations thereof using a joinery technique that requires a choreography with one or more assistants as they hold the pieces of wood or plastic in place, allowing the wheel to weave a joint. 

Wrapped with multicolored threads and glue in a fascinating process that our online partner Artsy interviewed him about, Alvarez has created polychromatic pieces that contain a folkloric appeal. Though the process is innovative and brand new, the works still harken back to an earlier period of industrial production. 

Gabrielle Ammann // Gallery is showing a splendidly shabby chandelier by the designer Florian Borkenhagen. A liminal object, this sizable chandelier is elegantly constructed from more than 300 glass objects – from bottles and bowls, to light bulbs and ashtrays, all are meticulously yet simply coiled together. Drawing on the Arte Povera tradition that Borkenhagen is known for, this chandelier takes the everyday and turns it into high design.

Galerie BSL – Beatrice Saint Laurent has dedicated its booth at this year’s fair to three materials: wood, rare hard stones, and copper and its alloys (brass and bronze). Faye Toogood is showing three works, part of the Caged Elements collection, which are assembled to highlight each material’s distinctness, but in a minimalist/constructivist fashion so that they fit flush with each other. The materials combine and contrast not only because of difference in color and texture, but also out of the primary forms that are used: cube, sphere, and cylinder. 

Also at Galerie BSL, Nacho Carbonell shows a new set of works titled Time is a Treasure. Formed out of agate stones that were mined and then discarded by jewelry houses for the making of clocks, these three works reassert the disposed stone’s right to exist as a time-teller. Zoomorphic and creature-like, each of the pieces has a rough agate exterior and a mouth that holds a handmade clock in the back of its throat. Peering inside, you see a mirror-polished bronze palate and hear a ticking uvula. 

Paris-based and expert in limited-edition works, Galerie kreo is showing Hella Jongerius‘s Niebla Table. Crafted out of American Walnut, the table’s simple structure belies its extreme movement from natural grain to a highly varnished, pastel pink. The woody surface on one side transforms gradually into a delicious, milky-red tone, drawing the viewer’s eyes and enticing their senses. Though the structure and either side alone represents a solid tradition of table-making, it is the textural metamorphosis which heralds its contemporary status. 

Sebastian Errazuriz, the Chilean-born and decorated artist-designer, is showing a cabinet titled Kaleidoscope at Cristina Grajales Gallery. What appears to be a straightforward, cleanly-designed bureau on the outside opens its doors to reveal a variegated series of mirrors. The beveled mirrors are arranged in a diamond pattern, creating kaleidoscopic light effects. 

Each of the works detailed here clearly reflect the (post)modern influence of technology and cultural change – from information flows, to streamlined production, to the revivalist turn that, in a way, both embraces and rejects these changes. These never-before-seen works are a periscope showing the future of design.

Rob Goyanes

All photos by Seth Browarnik / WorldRedEye.com

Design Miami/ Design Log 

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