There is nothing quite like the first week in December in Miami, when the design, art and fashion crowd congregate en masse in the sunshine for Design Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach. Topped off by a colourful spectrum of exhibitions and parties around town (including our own soirée with Poltrona Frau), Design Miami closed the design year on a perfect high.
Every year, Design Miami seems to grow in size and scope. This time around the gallery count reached 28 (up 15 on last year), without compromising the fair's overall curatorial quality, and sales figures peaked at their highest yet. Following founding director Ambra Medda's lead, new director Marianne Goebl seems to be forging ahead.
Once again Design Miami continued to blur creative boundaries, with a fashion infusion coming courtesy of Fendi and its 'Craft Alchemy' exhibition, and an architectural element in the shape of the 'Genesis' pavilion by David Adjaye, named Designer of the Year.
The fair extended its geographical reach too, acquiring its first African participant in the shape of Southern Guild. The South African outfit shipped over interesting pieces by homegrown designer Gregor Jenkin.
Also among the highlights this year were Michael Young's geometric furniture and objects, presented by Stockholm's Modernity gallery, and the futuristic 'Morphing Platter 300 Series' by Dr. Haresh, made from laser-cut steel and shown by Moss New York, which proved a real crowd-pleaser.
Design Miami's tried and tested, sales-generating custom of placing 20th century 'statement' classics alongside new and experimental contemporary design continued unabated. Paris' Galerie Patrick Seguin lured visitors with pieces from Prouvé, Perriand and Corbusier. Meanwhile, Demisch Danant gallery tempted visitors to take a seat in a very Miami-esque chair by Pierre Paulin, covered in a riotous swirl of colour.
Across from South Beach, the Design District's eclectic programming remit saw a special installation of works by visionary architect Buckminster Fuller and Norman Foster, whose work has always in part been inspired by his decade-long collaboration with the self-confessed 'design scientist'. Displayed on a lawn alongside Fuller's 24' Fly's Eye Dome - recently restored by Craig Robins and the Buckminster Fuller Institute - was Lord Foster's recreation of Bucky's Dymaxion Car, the Dymaxion 4, framed by three industrial containers filled with details of the renovation processes and historical background of the famous dome and car.
The Wallpaper* team, out in force Miami with no less than eight representatives, co-hosted a champagne-filled party with Poltrona Frau at its flagship showroom to mark the brand's Design Miami debut of its limited-edition 2011 Baccarat lighting collection, with guests partying into the night in the brand new space on Northeast Miami Court.
The streets of Miami's Design District were also buzzing with 'pop-ups' from fashion heavyweights, such as Dior, who are increasingly jumping on the back of Design Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach (more so than at the actual Basel fair) to launch collaborations with artists. Dior teamed up with Anselm Reyle, while Pringle of Scotland launched a limited edition collection by Liam Gillick. These upped the glamour stakes this year, as well as giving us an excuse to linger a little longer in this sun-soaked city.