Just as soon as the frosty winter weather began to set in across the northern hemisphere, the design and art communities packed up their globetrotters and flew south for Design Miami / Art Basel Miami Beach. Welcoming the hoards with open arms and visa swipe machines, the Sunshine State played host to some of the best pool parties and vernissages in years.

Design Miami 2009

See Henrietta’s highlights from Design Miami 2009
It was Design Miami, which we were specifically interested in, and we were not disappointed as this – its 5th year – saw the best collection yet in an inspiring and ambitious show.
The Design Art has undoubtedly had – Wallpaper not excepted – its fair share of detractors. Last year’s market meltdown further dirtied the waters as collectors and galleries alike all struggled to define what it was all about, and how such astronomical figures could be justified. Making it more complicated still was the way contemporary and newly commissioned works were being intermingled with vintage works by the mid-century masters.
At this year’s Design Miami there was a great deal more of the new, and for all that we love a nice Prouve to perch on, the show was all the better for it.
The show, housed in a temporary space designed once again by ArandaLasch, saw just 14 galleries exhibiting – all of them strong enough to withstand the recent financial turbulence, and evidence perhaps that the metaphorical wheat and chaff have to some extent now been separated.
Favourites from previous years were Moss (New York), Johnson Trading Gallery (New York) and Patrick Seguin (Paris), joined by brilliant displays from Mitterand + Kramer (Geneva), Seomi Gallery (Seoul) and Paul Kamsin (New York).
A curated selection of installations showing individual designers from a number of galleries helped allow smaller operators the opportunity to have a presence at the fair. In the case of Gallery Libby Sellers (London) this meant Julia Lohmann and Gero Grundmann, while Francois Azambourg presented Gallery R’Pure.
Architect Gregg Lynn added some glitz to the space with an interesting sail effect installation for the HSBC / Swarovski VIP lounge, but it was handbags at dawn as Fendi were not to be outdone in the raw luxe stakes. Building on its design perfomance programme that it initiated last year with Fendi Craft Punk, this year the fashion house commissioned tech-maestro Moritz Waldemeyer to work with pop group OK Go.
Waldermeyer customised a number of Gibson guitars with Fendi materials and lasers, which illustrated the music played on them in real time by projecting patterns on the wall. Ok Go are now taking the guitars with them on tour.
Then there were Arik Levy’s Rock Growth installations in the lounge too and Maarten Baas’s special retrospective (including his Real Time clock series) in celebration of his win as Designer of the Year, and a special commission from the designer – a multifaceted cabinet apparently in the abstract form of a gorilla (every art fair must have one). Altogether Design Miami proved much more rock n roll than recession. A very solid show.