In just six years DesignMiami/ has grown from an experimental upstart project to a destination international event. And that’s not just because people in rainy European cities are yearning for a little sunshine come December and need to find it somehow in the name of work because they’ve used up all their holiday. Not at all. That’s just a bonus.
DesignMiami/ has established its reputation through rigorous quality control (the claim is that only the best, museum-worthy pieces, are accepted) and by pioneering influential new formats for exhibiting design – performances are a key part of the programming. The organizers work hard to break down the boundaries and blur divisions between art, design and fashion and in doing so have created new opportunities for practitioners, a new market for collectors, and a new destination district within Miami itself.

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Here’s what’s caught our attention
this year

This year there were a total of fifteen galleries, up a little on last year, but while the quality was consistent and the atmosphere was lively, as can perhaps be expected in the current climate there was very little in the way of new work. There were also few showstopping elements, and a general subdued feeling throughout – epitomized perhaps with the choice of a designer of the year, best known for his quiet and humble work, Konstantin Grcic.
Subdued is not a bad sign, however, and perhaps in this case could just be read as seriousness. Most of the galleries found buyers within a day of opening, and sales are reportedly extremely healthy. The verdict – that DesignMiami/ this year was an all round successful show – can be read on the bottom line.
The improved figures can likely be put down to DesignMiami’s new proximity to the art fair itself on Miami Beach. Parked, literally, on the tarmac opposite, as a result the two worlds were given the opportunity to mingle like never before. The old question so often bantered around at art fairs: ’But is it Art?’ evolved quickly into a priceless, ’But can design be Art?’ and DesignMiami’s presence became an intriguing talking point. The exposure offered to young designers taking part in the fair cannot be underestimated.
On day five of the fair, it was announced that after an eight month search the current head of international public relations at Vitra, Marianne Goebl, will fill Ambra Medda’s shoes as the fair’s new director – starting in February 2011. Charged with taking the fair to the next level, it will fall to Goebl to make sure the next chapter of Design Miami builds on its success so far and grows without compromising quality. It won’t be a Florida holiday, certainly, but we wish her luck.