It has to be said: there is nothing like visiting Miami in December. Good weather and sandy beaches aside, our annual trip to the Floridian coast was all in the name of design and art, of course. In the last few years, the moneyed town has used its natural assets to attract the art, design, fashion and nightlife world's most illustrious characters, thus helping to secure Design Miami's place on the fair circuit.
Under the direction of Marianne Goebel for the second time, this year's fair was no slouch. As well as hosting an impressive selection of design galleries, both from home and abroad, Design Miami also presented three impressive projects from luxury industry bigwigs, Fendi, Perrier-Jouët and Swarovski.
All long-time advocates of cross-industry collaboration, the brands' efforts were particularly engaging due to the design talent they enlisted. With Design Miami taking on the role of instigator, Fendi added the next chapter to its ongoing Design Performances series by teaming up with Belgian designer Maarten de Ceulaer. Best known for his whimsical cabinets which at first look like a pile of colourful suitcases, de Ceulaer chose to reinterpret the fashion house's iconic Pequin motif in a three-dimensional way, creating an eye-catching landscape out of leather pieces in classic Fendi colours.
Perrier-Jouët, the new tipple of choice at Design Miami and Art Basel, also took advice from Goebel and her team before selecting the London-based Studio Glithero to create their mesmerising 'Lost Time' installation.
Swarovski Crystal Palace, the experimental design arm of the Austrian crystal makers, chose to back another Brit, Asif Khan, who's dexterity at architecture, furniture and industrial design had him perfectly placed to produce 'Parhelia', an interactive 20 ft structure encrusted with 1.3 million glittering crystals, which emulated an ice halo right on the tropical shores of Miami. Using a single LED as a light source, as well as harnessing the changing light conditions in the gallery space throughout the day, Khan created an inspired exploration of light and design.
Elsewhere within the fair, we were seduced by the combination of new and iconic collectible design on display. The French galleries did particularly well; Demisch Danant staged a wonderful tribute to Pierre Guariche, while Galerie Patrick Seguin's collection of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret was well-matched with an equally beautiful stand.
Cleverly positioned adjacent to Art Basel in the heart of South Beach, Design Miami was just the springboard for our week of perusing the emerging talent at NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance), enjoying the stellar program of talks by the likes of artist James Rosenquist (creator of the iconic Illy logo, which, 'along with the Mona Lisa, is one of the most reproduced paintings in the world', said Illy art director Carlo Bach), wandering the graffiti-lined streets of Wynwood, and exploring the Miami Design District - where Dior Homme and Louis Vuitton both got in on the art action. Not to mention heading out on festivity-filled nights that often led us to Andre Saraiva's pop-up club, Silencio, at The Delano. Once again, all in the name of art and design.