The last fair of the year promises to be a good one. Now in its 15th iteration, Design Miami has evolved from a small operation with a few galleries in the Miami Design District to a must-see destination with 70,000 square feet of exhibits. With more than 70 exhibitions and a brand-new home, the fair’s 2019 edition, which runs December 3 to 8, will draw gallerists from 13 countries, including its first-ever Australian exhibitor.
“A lot of the galleries at Design Miami use it as a launching pad for new materials,” says Design Miami CEO Jennifer Roberts. “It’s become the place that galleries are saving pieces for throughout the year to really make a bold statement, and it’s a great place for designers to stay ahead of the curve and be in the know.”
This year is also the first that the fair will reside in the new public park located across from the Miami Beach Convention Center and Art Basel. It’s a space where the fair can put down roots—literally, as the city built the footers for Design Miami’s tent into the new six-acre Pride Park. “It was a big undertaking for the city,” says Roberts. “Their commitment is stronger than ever, and it identifies that we’re a part of the cultural fabric of Miami Beach.”
In another first, Design Miami partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design for a series of Design Forum talks, to be hosted in the reconfigured tent’s new glass front.
And this year marks the fair’s largest Curio program to date, with 14 installations. Curio, which was launched in 2015 to present smaller exhibits, “allows an architect, designer, or gallery to show a highly curated cabinet of curiosities,” says Roberts. “It’s the program that brings the most focused content and material that you wouldn’t necessarily see elsewhere at any other time.”
New work often takes the spotlight at design fairs, but of particular note this year at Design Miami is the historical design that will be on display, spanning a variety of countries and eras. “We have many galleries that show both historic and contemporary material,” says Roberts. “I think people are looking for pieces that stand the test of time regardless of when it was made.”
She notes that Japanese design is a particularly strong trend this year. “It’s super interesting because it’s so detail-oriented and meticulous,” she says. Erik Thompsen Gallery, a new exhibitor, is presenting an “exceptional” collection of baskets and urns from 20th-century Japanese masters, as well as large medieval ceramic storage jars handcrafted with a wabi-sabi aesthetic. Moderne Gallery will showcase more recent Japanese design and rare sculptural works by Makoto Yabe from the early 1980s, in addition to some historic European design: a selection of rare furniture, including pieces Paul Frankl made for his own New York apartment in 1933.
Two other areas that have been historically overlooked by the design world will also have a strong presence at the fair, reflecting a growing industry interest: historical design from Africa and midcentury female designers.
Reynold C. Kerr of Kerr Fine Art will present a Curio of artifacts that explores how traditional African sacred and ceremonial art continues to impact contemporary design. “He will have a shaman in his booth at some point,” says Roberts. “He is also a fantastic resource for interior designers who want to learn more about this area of focus.”
As for vanguard female designers, the year of Charlotte Perriand continues with Galerie Patrick Seguin and Magen H Gallery presenting the Parisian master’s work; the exhibit also taps into the Japanese trend, as they’ll showcase pieces inspired by Perriand’s trips to the country. Lebreton will show rare original works from French ceramicist Suzanne Ramié, a frequent collaborator with Pablo Picasso.
“There’s suddenly an interest in celebration of works by female designers,” says Roberts. “It’s a timely and relevant conversation, and a great moment to honor the talent of these women who were working in the 20th century.”
Roberts encourages interior designers to make themselves known to the Design Miami team, and speak with the gallerists, especially those working in historical design. “They can access experts on-site who have created the market for this material and have encyclopedic knowledge,” she says. “There is so much to learn through these exhibitions.”
This story is a paid promotion and was created in partnership with Design Miami.
Homepage image: Courtesy of Hayden Phipps and Southern Guild