Last night, as darkness fell upon Design Miami/ Basel, the airwaves filled with the unequivocal vocals of a Mr. Kanye West. Less than 12 hours earlier, while seated in a Rick Owens chair at the Salon 94 booth, the long-time art and design aficionado happened upon a whim to share his new album, Yeezus, with the design and art-loving crowd. With a thumbs up from Craig Robins, founder of Design/ Miami, the stroke of midnight turned the fair’s Herzog & de Meuron-designed foyer into a makeshift concert hall, where West stood upon a stage with Rick Owens furniture (pictured) to host a private listening party. The impromptu performance was not without mention of his favorite designers in the fair, including by Jean Royère, Jean Prouvé, Pierre Jeanneret (all of which you can find exclusively on Artsy). After the show, Artsy caught up with Robins to hear first-hand how the Kanye performance came together.
Artsy: Everyone around us has been saying that this is one of the best events ever at Art Basel. Could you give us some background on how this all came together?
Craig Robins: This was another magical Basel moment. There are always these points during Art Basel when spontaneous things happen, and they tend to be the most special things. Today, Kanye walked into Design Miami/, and we were sitting and talking, and then he wanted to go see the Rick Owens furniture. And so we went into [the booth of] Salon 94, sat down on Rick’s chairs, and he started to play some songs from his album. And he said, ‘You know, it would be fantastic if I could sort of premier the album at Design Miami/, tonight’. So at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we all convened on the Messeplatz—our partner MCH, the CEO of MCH group, René Kamm, and I sat with the team and we put this together. It was really perfect. Kanye’s a brilliant artist and the point of this whole week is really celebrating creativity; and so he added his great contribution to Design Miami/ and Art Basel.
Artsy: Absolutely. Leading up to the performance, he gave a shout out to some of his favorite designers, including Jean Royère, Jean Prouvé, Pierre Jeanneret...
CR: Then he talked about Rick Owens. Having spent time with Kanye, there’s a lot of design that interests him—both the great modern designers and also the contemporary designers.
Artsy: When it comes to getting art and design out to a broader audience, it doesn’t get any better than that!
Photos by Seth Browarnik for Design Miami/ Basel.
See more from Design Miami/ Basel on Artsy.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory