At Design Miami/, world-class designers presented a new luxury code

At Design Miami, world-class designers presented a new luxury code

Updated 10th December 2021
The luxury world's modern codes are evolving. What the word means -- and how luxury is created -- has been long scrutinized, but the events of the past two years have no doubt spurred new definitions or interpretations of the term.
"All of my projects are very digital," Nuriev told CNN Style, while sitting on his mercurial duvet. "Sometimes, people get confused when they see my work on screens, thinking they're just projections. Our style is already meant to be in the metaverse, we're just adapting it back, in a way, to something you can feel and touch."
Nuriev also agreed that with the rise in popularity of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and the advancement of augmented and virtual realities, it's only a matter of time before the digital craze sweeping the art world becomes more commonplace in the home (in fact, the first digital NFT house sold this year for $500,000). And, it's likely an inevitability that, in time, we'll own or rent digital residences in addition to our actual dwellings -- the metaverse grows larger by the hour.

Utility gets hyper-upgraded

At Design Miami, the American plumbing, kitchen and bathroom manufacturing company Kohler debuted a collaborative piece with the artist Daniel Arsham named "Rock.01." Artists and product makers partnering isn't new, but, on something as commonplace and fundamental as a bathroom sink, the link-up further proved that, in some ways, nothing is off limits when it comes to fusing high-low concepts.
Furthermore, the sink -- an amorphous, organic pile of 3D-printed vitreous china and hand-poured brass -- is only available in a series of 99, adding a limited edition element more often witnessed in fine art galleries than at mass production household appliance companies.
Daniel Arsham collaborated with American bathroom and kitchen manufacturing company, Kohler, to create a high concept sink.
Daniel Arsham collaborated with American bathroom and kitchen manufacturing company, Kohler, to create a high concept sink. Credit: James Harris Photography/Design Miami
Arsham's sculptural oeuvre tends to address questions about time and longevity, and, regarding this project, he said, in a statement: "[It] melds the future of 3D-printing technology with the most basic methods of hand-cast brass. It is literally the new, resting on top of the old."

A deeper consideration for craft

"The continuation of craft in its numerous, engaging approaches remains universal," said Peter Mabeo, the designer and entrepreneur behind the Gaborone, Botswana-based firm Mabeo, in a statement regarding his collaboration with Fendi.
The Italian luxury fashion label (which also has its own furniture line called Fendi Casa) has long been involved with Design Miami, though their commissions have generally been slicker -- and more manufactured in feel.
Such was not the case this year, in which Mabeo worked with Silvia Venturini Fendi, Delfina Delettrez Fendi (Silvia's jewelry designer daughter) and the brand's artistic director Kim Jones to curate and produce a 10-piece installation titled "Kompa." The pieces on view were all handmade by artisans across Botswana, deploying centuries-old woodworking and metalworking techniques. while channeling, in subtle ways, Fendi's distinct style.
Mabeo's furniture collaboration with Fendi used centuries-old woodworking methods.
Mabeo's furniture collaboration with Fendi used centuries-old woodworking methods. Credit: Fendi x Mabeo/Design Miami
For example, a Panga Panga wood chair, named "Maduo," and made in Botswana's Mmankgodi Village, reimagines a piece of jewelry designed by Delettrez Fendi with repeated "F" shapes. According to an accompanying booklet regarding the exhibition, the piece represents "how the simplest ideas can be realized with care and dedication to craft."
Fendi's pivot from sleek and sexy into something deeper, something more artisanal -- and ultimately something more personal -- was echoed at Southern Guild, a South African gallery that presented a show called "Studio Visit."
There, amongst towering vases and terracotta benches, founder and CEO Trevyn McGowan spoke to a similar sentiment.
"People are seeking a greater connection to something, and, with these works, there's a calming, enticing, and very human feeling apparent," she said, adding, "I like to think that each piece here conveys the energy of the makers."
Southern Guild, a gallery in South Africa, spotlighted four designers for the Miami fair.
Southern Guild, a gallery in South Africa, spotlighted four designers for the Miami fair. Credit: James Harris Photography/Design Miami
Southern Guild highlighted four designers -- Andile Dyalvane, Madoda Fani, Chuma Maweni, and Zizipho Poswa -- in a cohesive, inarguably beautiful showcase of local and longstanding craft that also served to illustrate both traditional and contemporary life in South Africa. Poswa's towering urns were set with bronze horns, as an homage to the spiritual offering at the heart of an ancient African custom called lobola, which is a dowry-like practice. Maweni's wheel-thrown ceramics retain a monastic reverence, steeped in centuries of passed down practice and yet appearing ultra modern, in tandem.
McGowan notes that this deeper appreciation for craft and meaning is being seen globally, not just in the region she represents.
"People are thinking more, and being more sensitive," she said. "It's less about the 'I've-got-to-have-that-for-the-sake-of-having-that' mentality, and more about a proper passion -- and connection."
Top image: Harry Nuriev's futuristic chamber "The Bedroom," on show at Design Miami 2021.