The second day of Design Miami/ meant going back to look closer at objects and images that stood out from yesterday’s run through the tent. This show, unlike its hulking Miami neighbor Art Basel, is small and approachable but hard to describe in words. It has a few beautiful high design objects that were likely shown at Milan’s Salone del Mobile earlier this year, a great many expensive and playful baubles meant for children or grownups into S&M, and finally classic pieces of furniture from the masters of twentieth-century architecture and design. In fact, Design Miami is a show that does not know what it wants to be and ends up being a cross between Milan’s Triennale and Salone del Mobile, Paris’s Maison & Objet, and the Park Avenue antique show. It’s most pleasant surprise is the number of exhibitors, mostly outliers in the fair world, who come from the southern hemisphere.
For example, the gallery Southern Guild is based in South Africa and has the most outrageous (and best designed) bauble at the fair: a green leather hanging fish chair with floppy, pointed teeth designed by the group Porky Hefer. But like last year’s Miami fair, it is the galleries in Paris, Rotterdam, and Brussels, etc., that have the most magnificent classic objects and remnants from the period of early modernism. Gallery 1950 from New York showed a magnificent Roger Tallon-designed 1970 dining suite (“Module 400” series) featuring a table with glass top supported on four cast aluminum pedestal bases, with six chairs with egg crate foam seat and back. They also had an industrial metal Isamu Noguchi tabletop sculpture named Cactus Wind. Galerie Patrick Seguin, like last year, showed furniture by Jean Prouvé, Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand, and Jean Royere. The star of their booth was a 1955 Prouvé worktable of plated wood, green stainless steel, and aluminum. They also displayed several Prouvé prefabricated walls that they have inlaid into a sheet rock wall. Another French gallery, LAFFANOUR / Galerie Downtown, showed two magnificent tapestries by Le Corbusier and Jean Lurcat made in 1965. Finally, Galerie VIVID from Rotterdam had original scuffed furniture by Gerrit Rietveld and prints by Rem Koolhaas, El Lissitzky, and Rietveld. In the end, it reminds us why these architect-designed objects are important to history and not just the marketplace.