Inside Design Miami 2022: traditional craft and contemporary design collide

Design Week went to Miami and found designers visualizing an innovative future that brings together the best of the past in a sustainable way.

Design Miami 2022 returns for the 18th time this year to look at design through the lens of the Golden Age, an imaginary future where people and the planet thrive.

This year, for the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic, 50 galleries and Enthusiasts took place at full capacity. Design Miami CEO Jen Roberts notes the growing demand for collectible design work in both historical and contemporary pieces, adding that this year’s show “is a true statement.” [the] convergence between design, fashion, art and technology”.

Award winners

Sarah Myerscough Gallery space at Design Miami

The Best Gallery award was a tie between London-based artist-designer-producer Sarah Myerscough Gallery and New York-based Magen H Gallery. The first prides itself on embracing both crafting traditions and contemporary innovation, the Design Miami collection – the emphasis being Christopher Kurtz’s Skipping Stone Table – focuses on the interconnectedness of living things.

Magen H Gallery chose to focus on post-war French designers for its collection of works by Paris-born furniture designer Pierre Chapo, Greek sculptor Philolaos Tloupas and architect and designer Charlotte Perriand.

Fumi Gallery space at Design Miami

London-based Gallery Fumi’s collection embraced experimentation with materials and sought to explore how objects can shape ideas. Many of the objects were handmade using techniques such as carving, glassblowing, and polishing, as the purpose was to increase the value of craftsmanship while delivering a contemporary output. A pair of Max Lamb Cleft Chairs carved from a single sycamore log and covered in 23.5 carat gold and platinum leaf won the Best Contemporary Work award for the gallery.

material innovation

Kohler presents Transcendence by Nada Debs at Design Miami 2022. Credits: James Harris.

Manufacturing company Kohler collaborated with artist and designer Nada Debs on Transcendence, an exclusive Turkish bath experience that aims to be culturally inclusive, sustainable and innovative. The three-room installation incorporates the arch aesthetic of traditional Turkish steam rooms and is made from handmade custom tiles designed by the Debs and Kohler WasteLAB team.

Kohler WasteLAB is a manufacturer’s branch dedicated to transforming landfill-bound waste products into functional and stylish products. Both the body and the glaze of the bath tiles are made of waste materials. Combining the spiritual experience of the bath with the reuse of waste materials offers guests a visual comparison of the rejuvenation process and what it means for both people and the planet.

The Collected Mirror, 2022, by Aleksandra Pollner at Wexler Gallery. Credit: Wexler Gallery

Polish artist and designer Aleksandra Pollner, represented by the multi-disciplinary Wexler Gallery, showcased the Gleaning collection, which consists of a white-framed mirror and an onyx black table with crystal-like forms inserted into it.

During the pandemic lockdowns, Pollner began collecting the Styrofoam that was thrown on his walks. The material has become part of the circular design practice, and its latest collections have emerged from historical papier-mâché methods, featuring Styrofoam as the main material alongside industrial clay.

honoring the culture

Ippodo Gallery at Design Miami 2022. Credits: James Harris

Showcasing for the first time at Design Miami, Tokyo and New York-based Ippodo Gallery, it brought a variety of craft-focused pieces aimed at relating to the concept of “nature’s fragility” with Japanese art and culture. The works of 22 artists and designers were exhibited at the venue, with a special focus on the work of twelve surfactant artists.

One of the artists, Terumasa Ikeda, specializes in raden, a Japanese decorative technique used in traditional crafts and woodworking. Ikeda took a black urushi lacquered box (urushi is a highly prized and refined material in Japan) and decorated it with iridescent laser-cut Arabic numerals that mimic LED digital displays. The ornament seeks to exemplify how traditional techniques and contemporary ideas can intersect through design.

Rock/Roll by Germane Barnes. Credit: James Harris

Germane Barnes set out to pay homage to Blacks and Natives of color in her installation Miami Rock|Roll, which she exhibits on the streets of the Design District. Bright, multi-colored pods made from foam pool noodles are giant interpretations of carnival headdresses.

Barnes designed them to be interacted with by visitors invited to sit inside as they sway rhythmically back and forth, mimicking the pulsations in African and East Indian Soca music.

Poster Image: Design Miami 2022 Expo Exterior. Credit: James Harris

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