Returning for an unusual September event, Design Miami/Basel presents some of the best contemporary design, for an edition based on an exploration of ‘human nature’ through curated booths and large-scale installations at Messe Basel.

‘This year’s presentations really offer an insightful snapshot of the current design market,’ says Jennifer Roberts, CEO of Design Miami. For the first time, the fair will be shoppable online through new initiatives launched in the past year that expand Design Miami’s scope and reach. 

Design Miami/Basel 2021: highlights

Design Miami/Basel 2021 theme: Human Nature

Black metal shapes on mint green plinth
‘State Of The World’ by Mathieu Lehanneur. Photography: James Harris

Gallerists and designers responded to the 2021 edition’s theme of ‘Human Nature’, devised by curatorial director Aric Chen. It’s a theme, he explains, that explores ‘how we might rethink the relationship between humans, nature, and human nature. The question of sustainability and planetary survival is not simply technical, but also cognitive, cultural and philosophical. As it becomes increasingly clear that human-centric worldviews and approaches are no longer tenable, we want to explore how design offers possibilities for reimagining our relationship with non-human beings and intelligences in more viable ways.’

The theme’s impact is evident from the fair’s entrance, where installations include DRIFT’s ‘Shy Synchrony’, an arrangement of multi-sensory lighting pieces (the duo’s ‘Shylights’) inspired by the phenomenon known as nyctinasty, the movement of some plants as they respond to the onset of darkness. 

Among projects responding to ‘Human Nature’ is also Mathieu Lehanneur’s ‘State Of The World’ display, a showcase of anodised aluminium sculptures representing population pyramids of different countries across the world. Using data, each sculpture represents the birthrate, life expectancy and history of over 140 countries. ‘In this very particular moment in our history, I wanted to be able to embody humanity in its entirety; to be able to crystallise the large and the complex through objects,’ says Lehanneur. 

The Elevator by Crosby Studios founder, Harry Nuriev

Elevator room with walls, floor and furniture in silver
Photography: James Harris

Crosby Studios founder Harry Nuriev presents a metallic furniture composition inspired by the aesthetic of a corrugated steel-clad elevator. Nuryev explains his fascination with the elevator, a symbol of passing through different realities, connecting spaces: ‘It’s a place where you get to be a kid again and press all the buttons, the destination unknown,’ he says. The space is fitted with silver modular furniture comprising a sofa, an armchair, and an ottoman.

Shaping Color by Germans Ermičs

Glass chair and console with yellow to blue gradient
Photography: James Harris

An expert in West Coast minimalism, Laguna Beach-based Peter Blake makes its Design Miami/Curio platform debut, presenting its first contemporary design showcase, with a site-specific, immersive installation by Amsterdam-based Latvian designer Germans Ermičs. Titled ‘Shaping Color’, the collection features new interpretations of Ermičs’ colour-driven furniture designs in glass, in new chromatic compositions ranging from blue to yellow. The installation, says Blake, hopes to elicit ‘a phenomenological viewer experience. We hope viewers will take away a newfound appreciation for Ermičs’ focus on aesthetics and material, and their relationship with surrounding environments.’

Design by Nature by Front and Moroso

Design Miami Basel booth with works by Moroso and Front reproducing natural elements such as moss covered rocks
Photography: Giuliana De Luca

Italian furniture company Moroso presents its new research and experimentation branch. Dubbed More-So, the company’s division makes its debut at Design Miami/Basel with ‘Design by Nature’, a project by Front that was originally unveiled in Wallpaper’s December 2020 issue. It features a furniture collection (comprising seating, wooden tables and vases) inspired by nature, with faithful reproductions of three-dimensional forms such as rocks, and created using using 3D-scanning, milling and weaving. 

Americana: Early Mass Modern Objects for Industry

Display of vintage radios as Design Miami Basel
Photography: James Harris

Chicago gallery Converso presents ‘Americana: Early Mass Modern Objects for Industry’, an impressive collection of early modern industrial objects gathered over three decades and featuring rare examples of mass consumption objects designed by the likes of Charles Eames, Alvar Aalto and Alexander Girard, as well as pieces by manufacturers such as Motorola and General Electric. 

Carpenters Workshop Jewellery

Carpenters Workshop Jewellery booth at Design Miami Basel, with wooden displays designed by David and Nicolas
Photography: James Harris

Carpenters Workshop Gallery launches its jewellery division at Design Miam Basel 2021. Shown within a dedicated booth, specially designed by David/Nicolas, the launch includes limited edition, sculptural pieces by multidisciplinary artists including Caroline Van Hoek, Michèle Lamy and Loree Rodkin’s Hunrod, and Kayo Saito among others.