Rodman Primack—the newly appointed director of Design Miami/ and
avid design and art collector—has worked as a director at a major art gallery,
a specialist at an auction house, and even founded his own design consulting
practice. So it wasn’t surprising to see Primack take on a new challenge—the
design fair, where his passions for art and design overlap under one roof.
Artsy sat down with Primack to discuss the upcoming edition of Design Miami/ Basel
(the first under his leadership); tips on tackling the fair; his favorites in
Basel; and what to expect in years to come.
Artsy: Design Miami/ celebrates its tenth edition
this year. In the past decade of visiting the fair, what has been your
Rodman Primack: I have always been availing
myself of the entire experience of the fair, both in Miami and Basel, and have
really loved it from day one. I have never missed the VIP opening days, when
one really has a chance to look at things without too many people, and to speak
with the dealers. I have always been a repeat visitor [to each edition], as I
seem to miss things each time I visit. Over the years, the collateral
programming at Design Miami/ has been incredible, and the talks program as
Artsy: What are your top three tips for
navigating Design Miami/ Basel?
RP: 1) I think it is important to see the whole
fair and not to miss anything. I always stick to a specific pattern and bring
along my paper plan to check off the booths as I go—to be sure that I haven’t
missed anything. 2) Don’t rush through; be sure to schedule enough time to ask
questions and explore. 3) Be sure your phone is charged (!!) to take pictures
of things as reminders. This is essential and helps cut down time when
revisiting. 4) If you’re looking for something for a specific place, bring the
measurements with you, or even a copy of the floorplan.
Artsy: As a collector yourself, what is your
advice for an art collector who is thinking of moving into design?
RP: Relax. The great thing about the bulk of what
one collects in design is that one can use it, and it’s not so precious as to
need special storage or a case. There may be some complicated shipping issues,
but on the other hand you actually get to use those tables and chairs, lights,
mirrors, rugs, etc. It is so great! Also, one can basically buy confidently at
Design Miami/ Basel, knowing that the galleries and material have been vetted
and that this is a small group of some of the best galleries in this field. The
price point in design, for the most part, is reasonable, so it can really be a
lot of fun.
Artsy: Your past positions have included
specialist and chairman at Phillips de Pury & Company, a director at
Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, designer for Peter Marino Architect, and
founder of your own design consulting practice, amongst others. What is the
most important lesson or insight from your past experiences that you’ll bring
to your new role?
RP: Every one of my previous work experiences has
fed into this role, so it is hard to single something out. I have to say that
after running Phillips in London, it really taught me to focus on the big
picture and be sure that my team is good at chasing the details—so I can get
some sleep at night!
Artsy: What are you most excited to see while
you’re in Basel, outside of the fair?
RP: Of course the amazing thing about Basel is
the local museums, which always have really great programming. A few not to
Artsy: What is your vision for the future of the
RP: It is too early in my tenure at the fair to
make sweeping statements about the future of Design Miami/, already it is the
preeminent fair for collectible design in the world, so nothing needs to be
“fixed.” I do think we can innovate and explore what constitutes collectible
design and help to continue to develop this market globally, and with our 10th
anniversary just around the corner in Miami this December we do have some
Photographs of Design
Miami/Basel 2013 by Word Red Eye