My Highlights from Design Miami/ 2014

At the Museum of Arts and Design (or MAD) we are constantly on the lookout for inventive design that is backed by serious skills in making. In my selections, I tried to find examples where the individual voice of the maker shines through, partly through technique and partly through the ingenuity or unconventionality of the form.

My Selection:

Charlotte PerriandBureau d’angle (Angle desk), ca. 1951, at Galerie Downtown - François Laffanour

This nifty little desk by modern master Charlotte Perriand is just waiting for the right difficult-to-furnish corner. The composition is so witty—instead of fashioning a complete volume, she has provided just a fragment of a conventional table form. A classic example of ‘less is more.’

Wendell CastleUnique wall mirror with shelf, in stack-laminated walnut. Designed and made by Wendell Castle, Rochester, New York., 1976, at R & Company

We will be featuring Wendell Castle’s historic and current work in a show next year at MAD - showing how he moved from analogue to digital techniques (chainsaws vs. robots, as we like to say). This mirror typifies his biomorphic style, made possible by gluing up many boards and then shaping them into an unconventional and suggestive form.

Gerd RothmannIn Ton gedrückt, in Gold geklopft, ein Arm geschmückt, 2013, at Ornamentum

Rothmann is a leading exponent of conceptual jewelry—he comments on the medium, rather than just making it. The title here translates something like ‘pressed in clay, cast in gold, an arm decorated.’ It’s as direct as Alexander Calder’s necklace but presents itself as a proposition, not just an ornament.

Lindsey Adelman, Cherry Bomb collection, 2014, at Nilufar Gallery

At MAD, we featured Lindsey Adelman in our summer biennial on makers across NYC. She exemplifies the spirit of the project: high quality, well-made, and well-designed objects produced in a spirit of localism and invention.

Gareth MasonFall Out, 2006, 2012, 2013, at Jason Jacques Inc.

You see lots of expressive ceramics around at the moment, but very little of it has the force or technical mastery of Gareth Mason’s work. Jason Jacques, who represents him, is a creative force in his own right—his booth at Design Miami/ last year was like walking into a psychedelic moebius strip.

Alexander Calder at Louisa Guinness Gallery

“Art jewelry” could be fairly said to begin with Alexander Calder, and he has never been surpassed for sheer directness or invention. It’s a shame that more artists of his era didn’t adopt his liberal, fluid attitude to sculpture and functional objects. He was ahead of his time, a harbinger of today’s more relaxed attitudes to genres of production.

Hechizoo TextilesNylon and Bronze Area Rug, 2014, at Cristina Grajales Gallery

You have to see this in person to appreciate the craft and inventiveness of Hechizoo, a Bogota-based design studio with a particular emphasis on weaving. They are among over 75 designers featured in MAD’s current exhibition “New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Craft and Art in Latin America.”

Takuro KuwataBowl, 2014, at Pierre Marie Giraud

The post-postmodern teabowls of Takuro Kawata—raku by way of Bladerunner—are a terrific example of the way Japanese craft traditions are being updated for the mash-up culture of the 21st century.

Sheila HicksPrayer Rug, 1969, at Demisch Danant

Hicks is one of those artists that seems to get rediscovered periodically, as if she weren’t stupendous all along. The recent show of fiber sculpture at the ICA Boston, and her inclusion in the Whitney Biennial, are just the latest moments of glory for this powerhouse of late modernist sculpture. 

Explore Design Miami/ 2014 on Artsy.