The pyramid of pristine sand planted in front of the Design Miami pavilion by New York architectural firm Formlessfinder might have been a homage to the city's beachfront positioning. But it also happened to be very fitting for this year's fair, which was underpinned with organic qualities. From materials like metal, glass and ceramics, to sculptural shapes and body-adorning jewellery, many designers appeared to be edging back to the comfort of natural forms and the satisfying, handmade processes of the past.
'I love it,' gushed Simon Haas, one half of the Haas Brothers, as he petted 'Audrey', a seal-shaped night light crafted from the duo's signature gold metal tiles and sprouting acrylic hair, on show at the R 20th Century stand. The designer added, 'I'm so happy to see more human forms. I really think it's a backlash against square perfection.'
In addition to their beastly creations, the Haas Brothers also dabbled in hand-thrown ceramics, employing the stubbly, imperfect surfaces that proved to be a hot zone this year. Also the same booth, particularly alluring was a 1950s rosewood dining set by Brazilian architect Joaquin Teneiro. 'We opened the doors on the first day at noon and by 12.15pm I'd sold it for a half a million dollars,' beamed dealer Zesty Meyers.
From porcelain stools by Djim Berger at Gallerie BSL, to bulbous vases by Magdalene Odundo at Pierre Marie Giraud gallery and Morton Espersen's contemporary pottery at Jason Jacques gallery, it was hard to tell what was made today or in the 1890s, as in the case of Pierre Adrien Dalpayra's exceptional collection of vases (also at Jason Jacques).
Even super slick materials, like Corian could be transformed into the natural, as was the case of the magnificent peacock feather chair created by Uufie at Rossana Orlandi or steel that was pounded into paper thin petals in geologically tinged stools by Kim Sang Hoon at Gallery Seomi.
Floral and fauna sprouted like weeds across the fair, from the vibrant brass petal screen and carnivorous plant lamp by Taher Chemirik at Galerie BSL, to the petal strewn cabinets and torch lamps created by Maria Pergay in collaboration with Fendi.
Collaborations with non-furniture companies continue to be catnip for designers and the good news is that most of them look meaty, and some, even, terrific. Dutch designer Simon Heijdens created a new light installation of water-filled, hand-blown glass vessels that looked like purple potion hanging from honeycombs for Perrier-Jouët, while Swarovski collaborated with Brazilian architect Guilherme Torres to create a net-like, synthetic tube installation that was inspired by water conservation and mangrove forests.
Outside of the fair, the main action continues to burn across the bay in the Design District. Here, Wallpaper* held court with a showcase of greatest hits from our annual Handmade exhibition, supported by Jaguar, recently presented in the windows of London's Harrods store. Berluti had a thoughtful collaboration with Maarten Baas, who designed a valet, fan, shoe mirror and lounge chair in his trademark resin-based clay. 'It gets hard naturally, so you have a lot of freedom,' said Baas of his preferred material. Meanwhile, Maison Martin Margiela presented its avant-garde new jewellery collection ‘Crystalactite’ in conjuction with Atelier Swarovski, and premiered ‘Stalker’, an exclusive installation by French artist Baptiste Debombourg. At Luminaire Lab, sinuous 3D-printed jewellery by Daniel Widrig and tables by Tokujin Yoshioka made their debut.
Miami's skyline continues to change as new buildings rise, like the impressive Perez Art Museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, where Vionnet debuted a film by Tim Walker. Brazilian developer Alan Faeda is renovating eight blocks of South Beach water front property that will include buildings designed by Rem Koohlaas, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin. Further north, the city's historic private members club Surf Lodge, founded in 1930, is being polished and beefed up with a new apartments being built by Richard Meier.
Charlotte Perriand, another gem from the 1930s, turned out to be the woman of the week. Not only was a 1959 collection from her home, Maison a Monmarte, featured at Galerie Downtown, but the prefabricated beach house she originally designed in 1932 finally became a reality - thanks to Louis Vuitton - and installed at the Raleigh Hotel on South Beach.
Indeed, mid-century design continues to be a thriving sector of the market. From the 1968 stainless steel daybed and cocktail tables by Maria Pergay at Demisch Danant, to the playful cookie cutter trimming on Jean Royère's furniture collection at Galerie Jacques Lacoste, Design Miami's offerings were irresistible.
New York-based practice Formlessfinder conceived the playful entrance to the main fair hub at Design Miami, entitling the installation 'Tent Pile'
Tent Pile comprises an aluminium roof balanced on the apex of a gargantuan pile of sand. Photography: James Harris
Inside the main fair hub, New York-based gallery R 20th Century offered works by the Haas Brothers, Hugo França, Joaquim Tenreiro, David Wiseman and Jeff Zimmerman. Photography: James Harris
'Unique Hex' lamp, by the Haas Brothers, 2013, at the R 20th Century stand
Particularly alluring at R 20th Century was a 1950s rosewood dining set by Brazilian architect Joaquim Teneiro. Photography: Joe Kramm
'Crinkled sculptural vessels', by Jeff Zimmerman, 2013, at the R 20th Century stand
Jason Jacques Inc offered contemporary pottery by Morten Lobner Espersen, but also paid tribute to the past with ceramics by Pierre Adrien-Dalpayrat from the1890s. Photography: James Harris
'Dry Whisper', by Morten Lobner Espersen, 2012, at the Jason Jacques Inc stand
'Peacock', by Uufie, 2013, at the Galleria Rossana Orlandi stand. Photography: James Harris
French designer Maria Pergay collaborated with Fendi, a long-time partner of Design Miami (see issue W*177) on an installation entitled 'Metamorphosis'. Pergay has created a series of new pieces that match her trademark sculptural steelwork with Fendi’s more forgiving and luxurious materials. Photography: James Harris
'Cabinet Arlequin', by Maria Pergay, 2013, at the Fendi stand. Photography: James Harris
'Table Marronier', by Maria Pergay, 2013, at the Fendi stand. Photography: James Harris
One of the most ambitious installations at Design Miami was Swarovksi Crystal Palace’s latest presentation ‘Mangue Grove’, an architectural piece by Brazilian architect Guilherme Torres, inspired by the Brazilian mangrove forests. Photography: Steve Benisty
The piece used synthetic tubes filled with Swarovski crystals and reclaimed wood. Photography: Steve Benisty
Perrier-Jouët teamed up with London-based Dutch designer Simon Heijdens to create a new installation, entitled 'Phare no.1-9'. To see and read more about the project, pick up our January issue, out December 12. Photography: Charles Emerson
Galerie Patrick Seguin presented 'Maison 8x8', a full-scale house originally designed by Jean Prouvé in 1945. Photography: James Harris
The house was filled with design classics, also by Prouvé. From left: 'Sofa set', 1952-56; 'Cité' bookshelf, 1932; and 'Cité' bed, 1932. Photography: James Harris
New York gallery Demisch Danant displayed pieces by Maria Pergay, alongside another Wallpaper* favourite, Sheila Hicks. Photography: James Harris
'Tapestry', by Sheila Hicks, c.1970, hangs above Maria Pergay's 'Table Gerbe / Gerbe Table', 1970, and 'Set of 4 Chaise X Chairs', c.1975, at the Demisch Danant stand. Photography: James Harris
'Tambour Table with Two Seats' (foreground), by Maria Pergay, 1968, at the Desmisch Danant stand. Photography: James Harris
'Daybed', by Maria Pergay, 1968, at the Demisch Danant stand
A highlight at Paris' Galerie Jacques Lacoste stand was Jean Royère's 1950s furniture collection, which featured plenty of playful cookie cutter trim. Pictured (centre) is 'Ondulation' sideboard, c.1950. Photography: James Harris
'Mirabeau' floorlamp, c.1950, and 'Ambassador' armchair, c.1950, both by Jean Royère, at the Galerie Jacques Lacoste stand. Photography: James Harris
A pair of pine bookshelves, by Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret, c. 1950, complement a set of 'Baltique' chairs and an 'Ondulation' table, by Jean Royère, c. 1950, at the Galerie Jacques Lacoste stand. Photography: James Harris
Among the designers featured at Erastudio Apartment Gallery were Gunjan Gupta, Mario Bellini, Anne Bianchet, Jonathan De Pas, Gaetano Pesce, Ettore Sottsass, Donato D’Urbino and Paolo Lomazzi. Photography: James Harris
'Rock Table', by Gunjan Gupta, at the Erastudio Apartment Gallery stand
'Camaleonda', by Mario Bellini, 1970, at the Erastudio Apartment Gallery stand. Photography: James Harris
Elsewhere around town, our Handmade with Jaguar exhibition made its US debut, touching down in the Design District
The presentation includes around 70 works from the four year run of Handmade exhibitions in Milan, as well as five brand new pieces produced in collaboration with Jaguar
Laser sailboat, by Marian Bantjes and LaserPerformance (left) and ‘Neo’ dress, by Mary Katrantzou, Wallpaper* Composed and Cut Laser Cut (right)
'Wild Feast' picnic basket, by Neri & Hu, sponsored by Jaguar and inspired by Jaguar Design, is a distinctly modern and boldly Chinese interpretation of a very traditional British item
‘Milan l’è un gran Milan’ typographic jigsaw map, by NB Studio, at Wallpaper* Handmade with Jaguar
Moritz Waldemeyer's 'Revolution' installation, sponsored by Jaguar and inspired by Jaguar Design, puts light in motion . Thousands of LEDs illuminate this thoroughly modern, crisp and elegant design, inspired by the clean aesthetic and linear purity of luxury automobiles
Installation view of the exhibition, with Jaguar's C-X17 concept vehicle on display inside the venue
Berluti had a thoughtful collaboration at their Miami store with Maarten Baas, who designed a valet, fan, shoe mirror and lounge chair in his signature resin-based clay
Louis Vuitton installed a Charlotte Perriand-designed holiday lodge at The Raleigh Hotel on South Beach. The original design for ‘La Maison au Bord de l’Eau’ was entered into a design contest held by L’Architecture d’Aujoud’hui magazine in 1934 but was never built - until now
Cassina also paid tribute to Perriand with an exhibition of her photography, as well as furniture and fashion at their showroom in the Design District. Pictured is 'Bûches de robinier', by Charlotte Perriand, 1933. © AChP ADAGP 2013
'Le Pont transbordeur de Marseille', by Charlotte Perriand, 1933. © AChP ADAGP 2013
Cassina and Louis Vuitton paid further homage to Perriand, with the launch of a tribute edition of the 'LC4' chaise lounge, originally designed by Perriand, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden cast the spotlight on Brazil-based designer Hugo França for this season's edition of 'Design at Fairchild'. Sixteen of his pieces are exhibited throughout Fairchild’s 85 acres of tropical plants until 31 May 2014. Pictured is 'Babitonga' settee in pequi wood
'Machacos', by Hugo França, at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
'Mene' and 'Guaraci' settees, by Hugo França, at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Meanwhile, Maison Martin Margiela presented its avant-garde new jewellery collection ‘Crystalactite’ in conjuction with Atelier Swarovski, and premiered ‘Stalker’ (pictured), an exclusive installation by French artist Baptiste Debombourg
At Zanotta, Ludovica + Roberto Palomba presented a lounge chair inspired by Maserati cars
At Luminaire Lab, the 'Flow(t)' chandelier by Nao Tamura was inspired by the colours and reflections of the waters in Venic
Back at the fair, floral and fauna motifs dominated with an eye-catching vibrant brass petal screen (centre) by Taher Chemirik at the Galerie BSL stand. Photography: James Harris
'Pathway Mix' tables, by Taher Chemirik, 2013, at the Galerie BSL stand
Lightweight porcelain stools, by Djim Berger, 2010-2013, at the Galerie BSL stand
Seoul and Los Angeles-based Gallery Seomi was especially emblematic of the organic theme sublty underpinning this year's fair
'Steam_23' armchair, by Bae Se Hwa, 2013, at the Gallery Seomi stand
'Phenomena 2013-001' bench, by Kim Sang Hoon, 2013, at the Gallery Seomi stand
London gallery Didier Ltd celebrated the groundbreaking 1973 show at Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston ‘Jewellery as Sculpture as Jewellery’, presenting some of the original pieces featured in the Boston exhibition. Photography: James Harris
'Zig Zag' necklace, by Lucio del Pezzo, 1968, at the Didier Ltd stand