In the Mix

Top 10 Historical

Design Miami

Our stellar award jury selects standout historical designs on view at Design Miami/ 2020

Just before Design Miami/ opened its doors on Friday, a jury convened to review every piece in the show and select the “Top Ten” designs in two categories, historical and contemporary. Our stellar jury included Miami design collector and connoisseur Al Eiber, Wolfsonian–FIU Chief Curator Silvia Barisione, Design Miami/ Director of Exhibitions Jillian Choi, and New York architect and design expert Lee Mindel, who served as Jury Chair. With so much exceptional material to choose from, the task wasn’t easy. But after some spirited deliberation, here are the pieces that came out on top in the category of historical design.


#1 Power to the People: Ten Antique Walking Sticks (ca. late 19th to early 20th c.), presented by Olde Hope

In the historical category, Best in Show was awarded to Olde Hope Gallery’s antique wood walking sticks. Crafted in the US between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, each cane is crowned with an archetypal carved fist. This unusual collection charmed the jury with its timeless expression of freedom, diversity, and panache. The gallery had the canes photographed against an American flag quilt backdrop, which perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the show this year.


#2 Space Arcology: Nuggets Space for Peace Drawing by Paolo Soleri (1987), presented by Converso

Given Design Miami’s America(s) theme of this year, many of the Top Ten historical designs allude to significant moments in American cultural history. Number 2 on the list is a drawing by Paolo Soleri, who moved to the Western US in the 1960s and began creating work that embraces the utopian ideals of 20th-century counter-culture movements.


#3 Hessian Hills Child’s Chair by Wharton Esherick (designed 1924, produced 1931), presented by Moderne Gallery

One of only three Hessian Hill chairs from 1931 that are still known to exist, this work by American artist-craftsman Wharton Esherick is as rare as it is beautiful. The jury were thrilled at the find.

And the list continues with…


#4 Shaker Oval Boxes (designed 1790, produced 1820-1920), presented by John Keith Russell


#5 Tea Cart by Jorge Zalszupin (designed 1959, produced 1960s, presented by Mercado Moderno


#6 Gazelle Lounge Chairs by Dan Johnson (designed 1955, produced 1950s), presented by Ponce Berga


#7 Early Executive Rosewood Writing Table & Cabinet by Bodil Kjær for E. Pedersen & Søn, (designed 1959, produced by in 1961), presented by Morentz

#8 Wishbone by JB Blunk (1977), presented by Jason Jacques Gallery


#9 Special 8 Drawer Chest by George Nakashima (1961), presented by Moderne Gallery


#10 Rare Five Leaf Chair by George Nelson & Associates (1963) for the 1964 World’s Fair, presented by R & Company


“In the historical category, we start with a celebration of emancipation and freedom,” explained Mindel, “and end with a piece by George Nelson that expresses all the optimism of the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York.” What more could you hope for from a design show dedicated to “America(s)”? Congratulations to all of the winners—and to all of the Design Miami/ 2020 exhibitors—for making this exceptional year’s show such a success.


Photos © Kris Tamburello for Design Miami, © World Red Eye, or courtesy of the exhibitor