Dutch design proved ever popular at this year's Design Miami/, where Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen, Jon Stam, Kiki and Joost showed their latest work.
The less-than-ecstatic mood at Art Basel Miami Beach may have suggested a lean year, but globetrotting art collectors ensured the resilience of this year’s installment.
At the event preview at the Miami Convention Center, for example, there was considerably less queuing and clawing and racing among the VIPs sneaking a peek of the art show’s 250-plus exhibitors; remarkable purchases still were made. Exercising less restraint, the whirligig of nightly fetes proved the persistent optimism of contemporary art patrons.
Art Basel’s counterpart Design Miami/ shared in the subdued strength, with proximity partly to thank for it. This year the six-year-old limited-edition design fair moved from the Miami Design District to the parking lot across the street from the convention center, in a temporary building designed by the New York studio Moorhead & Moorhead. The in-migration earned Design Miami/ record attendance, as well as a bump in its number of exhibitors. Meanwhile, in gallerists’ ledgers, fair highlights include Patrick Seguin Gallery’s sale of a suite of Jean Royère furniture within the first day and New York gallery Barry Friedman Ltd.’s moving two editions of the cast-bronze Commode 7 Engrenages for 5,000 and 0,000.
Just as familiar names like Seguin and Friedman provided continuity between the far-flung Design Miami/s of years past and this year’s centrally located edition, so viewers enjoyed other familiar faces. Swarovski again made its presence known spectacularly, with a Crystal Palace installation comprising crystal lenses and light projections designed by the London studio Troika, and the fair again featured an installation by the designer of the year—2010 honoree Konstantin Grcic suspended 24 fiberglass-netting seats just outside Moorhead & Moorhead’s 47,000-square-foot vinyl tent.
This is also the second consecutive year in which Design Miami/ included a show within a show known as Design On/Site. The presentation of emerging gallerists comprised half a dozen participants, and here, too, geography was a watchword. Three of the six up-and-comers displayed work from the Netherlands.
Craig Appelbaum, owner of the 11-month-old Washington, DC–based Industry Gallery explains that On/Site exhibitors may spotlight the work of only one designer or design team, and so he chose Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen of Utrecht for a diversity of work that could have been produced by multiple marquee names. In addition, Appelbaum says, “Tejo Remy is well known for three works he created some 20 years ago, and which can be found in major public and private collections around the world. The work he has done with René Veenhuizen, his design partner of the past decade, has been less visible and we want to change that.”
Industry’s survey of Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen included accumulations of glassware and other table pieces repurposed into lighting and seemingly inflated furniture actually fabricated by pouring concrete into stitched molds, both of which were received with much enthusiasm, as well as a carpet and seat made from strips of wool and bamboo, respectively. Appelbaum did not find new homes for all pieces, “but,” he says, “we had good sales and we’re in conversation with several private and institutional collectors that I think will result in more acquisitions. More important, since the gallery is just under a year old, the visibility was excellent.”
The On/Site booth of three-year-old Caroline Van Hoek Contemporary Art Jewelry did sell out. The Brussels-based gallery was able to sidestep the one-designer rule by displaying jewelry by Lisa Walker in collaboration with Chicks on Speed inside a Curiosity Cabinet designed by Jon Stam, a Design Academy Eindhoven graduate now based in Amsterdam. The cedar double-sided cabinet alternates 16 physical drawers with as many data drives—although, when the drives are removed, one will find only hollow wood frames with embedded flash memory and RFID tags. The figure of the cedar drawer faces provides communicates which is which, with vertical graining indicating a compartment and horizontal lines betraying the empty volume behind. Besides providing a contemporary riff on Renaissance-era storage, “It is a great piece for collectors of cufflinks, rings, earrings, pens,” Caroline Van Hoek says. She adds that, while the obligation of showing extraordinary work at Design Miami comes with a budgetary risk, the event also offers “the opportunity to have no boundaries and go totally daring.” Clearly, Van Hoek’s risk paid off, and her triumphant mood at Design Miami/’s close was palpable and contagious.
Even if she hadn’t moved all of her merchandise, Van Hoek says admission into Design On/Site itself served as a gratifying recognition of quality. The sentiment was shared by Adriano Berengo, of Venice Projects, who says that the credit is hard earned. “Venice Projects was born in Switzerland in 2007, but only now, after three years…we thought we were ready to face the most important fair for design.” For Design On/Site Berengo chose to show the products of his collaboration with the young Dutch designers Kiki Van Eijk and Joost Van Bleiswijk, who independently conceived and designed counterpart collections. Venice Projects invites recognized talents to work in glass, and Van Eijk created seven multilayered objects symbolizing the fundamental activities of human life, while Van Bleiswijk’s totem-like Glass Stacks gold centerpieces are actually amber-colored glass with an internal mirror coating.
Just as acceptance into Design On/Site connoted a certain achievement of excellence for these gallerists, Van Hoek reports that fairgoers and fellow exhibitors affiliate their designers’ Dutch pedigree with quality. “Based on some of the comments overheard in our booth, Dutch design still commands respects and attention from design connoisseurs,” Appelbaum concurs. And commenting on his partnership with Van Eijk and Van Bleiswijk, Berengo fashions an explanation: “For me, it has been very interesting to start working with them, because they introduced me to a totally different way to conceive design. In Italy we have a very famous design movement and many of the most important designers in the world are Italian, but Italian design is something totally different, so I found it interesting to discover a new world.” Another unanimous opinion: All three gallerists are considering a Design Miami/ homecoming in 2011.
Main image: Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen: Accidental Carpet
Other images top to bottom: 1. Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen: Multivase 2. Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen: Concrete Side Table 3. Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen: Bamboo Chair 4. Kiki van Eijk: Love 5. Kiki van Eijk: Rest 6. Joost van Bleiswijk: Vase 7. Joost van Bleiswijk: Vase
Click on the images to enlarge
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