Design Miami/ Basel

Design Miami / Basel. Investigating relationships between humans and the constructed natural world

«We want to explore how design offers possibilities for reimagining our relationship with non-human beings and intelligences in more viable ways»

Lampoon review: Design Miami’s biannual collectible fair

In the aftermath of the pandemic, Basel, Switzerland, is making its comeback as a key place for the art scene. Simultaneously with Art Basel, the city, in fact, will host the fifteenth edition of Design Miami’s biannual collectible design fair. From September 21 to September 26. Further, this year Design Miami/Basel goes hybrid, presenting a line-up of in-person events and digital offerings. It will happen in Messeplatz, the city’s square where local and international fairs take place. According to Jennifer Roberts, CEO of Design Miami, the fair is «looking forward to coming together again in-person in Basel. While it will also bring the very best parts of our fairs to a wider audience through our new hybrid format». 

Twenty-six galleries will present a selection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century pieces of design, furniture, lighting and objects d’art. A number of galleries are also participating to the fair for the first time. These include AGO Projects, Geoffrey Diner Gallery and Morentz. Debuting at the fair, Geneva-based Bailly Gallery will present ceramics by Pablo Picasso in dialogue with objects and furniture designed by the Giacometti brothers. These investigate the relationships between art and design across the 1930s and 1940s.

The Curio section and Design at Large

Angela Weber Möbel in Geneva is a new-entry, with a selection of furniture, ceramics and lighting by masters. These include Gio Ponti, Osvaldo Borsani, Oscar Nilsson, Axel Einar as well as Paul Laszlo. They investigate similarities of approaches to form and function across designers in Italy, Sweden, Finland and the United States. Munich-based Hemmerle will present one-hundred contemporary jewels in a booth designed by Amsterdam-based Tom Postma Design. They will combine tradition with experimentation. Founding galleries will also be present, including Galerie Kreo, Galerie Patrick Seguin, Jousse Entreprise and LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown.

The Curio section is an exhibition platform that invites designers, architects, curators, innovators and gallerists. The aim is to present environments of objects, textures, and artifacts challenging and contextualizing design narratives. It will see the participation of fourteen galleries. These include Carpenters Workshop Jewellery in London, Converso in Chicago, Everyday Gallery in Antwerp, Galleri Format Oslo in Oslo, and Mercado Moderno in Rio de Janeiro.

Five galleries will also make up Design at Large, the fair’s section dedicated to large-scale works of historical and contemporary design showcasing innovative architectural installations. They are Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London, Paris, New York, Galerie Mitterrand in Paris, Joseph Walsh Studio in Cork, Mathieu Lehanneur in Paris, Noemi Saga Atelier in Sāo Paolo. 


Design Miami/Basel: curated by Shanghai-based curator Aric Chen 

Aric Chen was appointed Design Miami’s first-ever curator in 2019. He is a former creative director of Beijing Design Week and the lead curator for design and architecture at Hong Kong’s forthcoming M+. For the 2021 edition of the fair, Chen has decided to explore the thematic of Human Nature. The aim is therefore to investigate the relationships between humans and the constructed natural world through the lenses of design.

According to Chen, in fact, a dichotomy between humans and nature is at play, and action rethinks such an interaction. «The question of sustainability and planetary survival is not simply technical. It is also cognitive, cultural and philosophical. As it becomes increasingly clear that human-centric worldviews and approaches are no longer tenable, we want to explore how design offers possibilities for reimagining our relationship with non-human beings and intelligences in more viable ways».

Designing the Future: Promising Pathways to a More Sustainable and Just Tomorrow and Human Nature: Design Beyond the Human-Centric

Chen hopes that Human Nature will foster discussion through talks and programming. Two live talks take place during the fair. Designing the Future: Promising Pathways to a More Sustainable and Just Tomorrow will see Mateo Kries, Director of Vitra Design Museum, and Yves Béhar, product designer and pioneer of Venture Design, discuss urgent topics in design. From building a sustainable future to cultivating equitable societies.

While, Human Nature: Design Beyond the Human-Centric will be a conversation between design thinkers and practitioners. These will include Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of Formafantasma, Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren of Front Design, and Maurizio Montalti of dieDAS and Officina Corpuscoli. They will examine the evolving relationship between humans and the natural world as well as the role that design can play in bridging the divide between the two. 

Design Miami/Basel partnership with Superblue

Responding to this year’s theme, Design Miami/Basel has partnered with Superblue. It is a venture dedicated to producing, presenting as well as engaging audiences with experiential art. The establishments opened the first centre in Miami in May 2021. Together, they will present Shy Synchrony by DRIFT, Dutch artist duo Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta.

Located in the downstairs space in Hall 1 across two-thousand-and-five-hundred square meters, this multi-sensory installation will mimic nyctinasty, the cyclic movement of plants in response to the arrival of dusk or dawn. Visitors will experience an upside-down forest of moving flowers evoking the beauty and impermanence of nature. At the same time, they will raise a sense of wonder and contemplation. In response to DRIFT’s installation, Sou Fujimoto has conceived Forest of Space. This recreates a dynamic forest that intervenes in the space and with the movement of visitors. 

2021 Design Miami launches DM/BX

DM/BX aims at providing an access point for aspiring collectors. It is a shoppable hub featuring one-of-a-kind pieces, limited-edition design as well as newly released works by famous and emerging designers. It presents, in fact, objects priced between fifty dollars to two-thousand-and-five-hundred dollars. 

According to Roberts «the launch of DM/BX marks an important moment in the expansion of the Design Miami family. DM/BX is a new step for us. It offers, in fact, the chance for our team of experts to highlight beautifully crafted objects at a different price point and champion the work of emerging talents». Among these are Diego Faive, with his Minute Manufacturing Stools and Laura Sattin, who has selected a number of hand-blown glass vases from her recent series Accordi and Gradienti.

One can also purchase Berlin-based designer Anna Badour’s ACQUA Platter for eighty-six dollars each, and Paul Ketz’ Marshmallow Stool for one-thoudand-and-one-hundred dollars. There is something for all tastes and pockets. All items are exhibited in a dedicated booth while being available for purchase online in real time. The same also applies to all objects presented at the fair. They, in fact, can be purchased for a limited time via the fair’s digital platform, 

Design Miami

Messe Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Design Miami/Basel is an exhibition of international design. It is one of the most important and influential design fairs in Europe.


The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.