Design at Large: Kengo Kuma and Jean Prouvé feature in Art Basel’s 2016 offering

Design at Large: Kengo Kuma and Jean Prouvé feature in Art Basel’s 2016 offering

For the third year, Design Miami/ Basel presented the large-scale projects of Design at Large, welcoming visitors to the South Hall of Messe Basel. 

Eschewing a traditional booth, the Design at Large initiative invites gallerists to take part in a curated project that explores different points of view on design. This year, publishing heiress Martina Mondadori took the helm of the project, focusing on the theme of nature and outdoor living, explored via an eclectic mix of structures and installations. 

Mondadori chose the theme of ‘Landscape’, she says, to ‘invite designers and galleries to confront themselves with the outdoors and re-imagine the space within gardens’. Mondadori cites inspirations such as 19th century British follies and Italian garden labyrinths as the starting points for her theme. The reactions from the nine participants were eclectic and diverse, proving that such a remit can excite and inspire creative ideas. 

Installed like a canopy at the very entrance to the fair were Tom Price’s ’PP Trees’ (created in collaboration with Victor Hunt gallery), an eerie forest made of polypropylene pile that invites visitors to question attitudes towards plastic and nature. 

Inside the space, Galerie Patrick Seguin participated with the 1956 ’School of Villejuif’ by Jean Prouvé, a temporary emergency structure for the Parisian suburb which in true Prouvé fashion could be installed and dismantled in a short time. The prefab acted as an anchor in the large venue, with further installations dotted around it in the cavernous hall. These included Kengo Kuma’s ’Owan’ pavilion, part of Galerie Philippe Gravier’s ’Small Nomad House Project’, an initiative dedicated to the marriage of art and architecture. Nearby, Dimore Studio’s ’Verande’ took a completely different approach; presented like an outdoors and indoors space at once, the tent was furnished with Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci’s outdoors collection hidden in a deep forest of palm trees and enlivened by blue curtains and a soft breeze produced by the ceiling fans. 

Nearby, two installations were presented in close conversation with each other: Masatoshi Izumi and Koichi Hara’s ’Stone Tea House Meditative Alcove’ and Enea Landscape Architecture’s bamboo composition offered a corner of tranquil serenity. 

On the other side of the show, Dutch designer Kiki van Eijk’s ’Civilised Primitives’, developed with Nilufar, was a collection of handcrafted objects in bronze that invited viewers to ponder about survival in the present world. The collection was displayed under a large Bedouin-style tent featuring an abstract watercolor motif by the designer, in collaboration with print specialist Exposize. 

Ron Arad’s ’Armadillo Tea Canopy’, presented by Robbie Antonio’s Revolution Pre-Crafted Properties, is an independent shell structure for indoor or outdoor use, a multifunctional piece which can offer shelter as well as serve as a meditation space. The modular canopy is composed of five individual shells fixed together with exposed brackets and fixings, with the possibility of extending it by adding further elements. 

Visitors to the fair took full advantage of Alexandra Kehayoglou’s ’No Longer Creek’ installation, created in collaboration with Artsy. The Argentine rug maker reimagined the now transfigured Raggio creek, north of Buenos Aires, and through her work brought back to life its vegetation. People could walk and rest on the large tapestry, immerse themselves in its landscape and interact with the piece – it is in fact a Design at Large tradition that visitors often have the chance to get up close and personal with the structures and installations on show, offering a more intimate experience with design and expanding its boundaries beyond the gallery walls. 

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