Germane Barnes’ Miami Design District installation is a love letter to the city

Design Miami 2022: Germane Barnes’ Miami installation pays tribute to the BIPOC residents of the city and is inspired by the Miami Carnival

Germane Barnes Miami Design District installation
(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

In true Miami style, Germane Barnes’ brightly-hued Rock | Roll installation unveiled a flamboyant start to Design Miami 2022. Revealed a few days ahead of the events, the polychromatic project has lightened up the pedestrian streets of the Design District neighbourhood – one of the highlight destinations during the design fair. The playful concept, by Chicago-born Barnes, was awarded the 2022 Miami Design District Annual Neighborhood Commission and was curated by Anna Carnick and Wava Carpenter, of Anava Projects.

Germane Barnes Miami Design District installation: Rock | Roll

Germane Barnes Miami Design district

(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

The Miami-based architect’s design practice centres on finding connections between architecture and identity. Through his award-winning research, he explores how the constructs of space and history define Black communities and their domestic lives.

This new proposal also touches on the theme – conceived as a love letter to Miami, it pays tribute to the BIPOC residents of the city. Together with the early Black Bahamian settlers – who migrated to work the wild and untamed Florida land and contributed immensely to the development of the city – is Miami’s wide multi-ethnic diaspora from all over the Caribbean and Latin America.

Germane Barnes Miami Design District chimes on tree

(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

It’s only natural that the multicoloured Rock | Roll capsules, fabricated by ALT BLD, were inspired by the vibrant Miami Carnival. Their dynamic shape, made of foam noodles in a range of tropical shades, simulates the feathers and silhouettes of carnival headpieces, and the cocoon shape surrounds the user as if wearing a costume of a Carnival Band Member. 

Barnes’ two distinct ideas for this project – 'kinetic movement and cos-play' – are a nod to the rocking chair, a recurring subject matter in his previous work. As the name playfully hints, the capsules rock back and forth like the gentle moves of Soca music. They can be accessed from both sides allowing the option for two people to sit on opposite ends, only if they cradle in the same direction. Using rhythm to open a dialogue about harmonious coexistence, the padded rockers ‘celebrate the island communities that create the vibrancy Miami is renowned for’, says Barnes.

Germane Barnes Miami design district

(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

With music as the main protagonist, Barnes also hung hundreds of brightly coloured wind chimes in the neighbouring trees – a refreshing intervention on the green landscape of the district. The round metal discs, designed to resemble drums beating to the movements of the wind, are spread out like a poetic gesture of colour and melody.

The third and most architectural element of the installation is a rainbow-faceted dome floating over the Daniel Toole-designed Jade Alley concrete arches. Animated by light and music from a curated playlist, the disco ball-like sphere functions as a marking point for outdoor communal gatherings where storytelling and special events will take place. As Barnes highlights, 'drums, the disco ball, the playlists, each reinforce how music can bring different communities together in a positive way'.

The Miami Design District partnered with Matterport to create a digital twin of the commission. To experience, visit miamidesigndistrict.net (opens in new tab)

Germane Barnes Miami design district installation

(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

Originally hailing from Puerto Rico, Maria Sobrino spent seven years with Wallpaper* as an interiors stylist. These days you can find her enjoying a dinner al fresco at her Miami MiMo apartment on Biscayne Bay, or riding her scooter around Miami in search of beautiful things, both exterior and interior. 

With contributions from