Leading lights of the design world packed a suitcase full of shorts and headed towards the inviting climes of southern Florida at the beginning of the month for Design Miami/ 2013, where the industry’s movers and shakers, innovators and trend-setters gathered at the global forum to share their ideas, unveil new work and generally wallow in the cool waters of creativity. Eminent figures gave an insight into their work in a series of Design Talks, and headlining this year was Pritzker winner Richard Meier, who discussed his modernist style with critic Paul Goldberger.
Design Miami/ sure crams design into every aspect of the event, beginning at the fair’s entrance. Each year an up-and-coming architect is commissioned to create a new welcome for visitors, and this time around the honour fell to Formlessfinder. Channelling both the beach and the relaxed indoor-outdoor overlap of the area in its Tent Pile installation, the practice conjured an aluminium roof which seemed to perch improbably on a huge heap of sand, with a tension between the hard metal pyramid and the loose natural one below. There were also a couple of shady aluminium benches for a quick time-out from the heat. Formlessfinder co-founder Julian Rose explains the practice name as a conscious move away from form as the “default lens” through which people traditionally look at architecture.
Luxury Italian fashion brand Fendi introduced some glamour to proceedings with Metamorphosis, an installation highlighting its work with designer Maria Pergay. Known for her work with stainless steel, here Pergay brought together materials with seemingly opposing characteristics – cold and hard, soft and warm, reflective and matte – blending Fendi fur (quite why the Italian brand continue to flog this literal dead horse is beyond us, but that’s another story) and metal in the most beautiful way.
The fair’s major supporter is Swarovski Crystal Palace – a collaboration between the famous crystal experts and leading names of architecture and sculpture. For their sixth year of sponsorship, Swarovski teamed up with Brazilian architect and designer Guilherme Torres and the result was the magical Mangue Groove. A combination of science and sculpture, the work represents the coming together of the natural world in the shape of ecologically important mangroves with that of the Voronoi diagram (a method of dividing space mathematically). It was also a monument to sustainability, and symbolised Swarovski’s Waterschool Program’s forthcoming school education program on water conservation in Brazil next year. The synthetic tubes were filled with an advanced crystal, joined with geometric shapes and lit with energy-efficient LED technology, and visitors walked through the mangrove on a platform of reclaimed wood above a shallow pool. H₂O-wow indeed!