Design Miami/ 2020 adapts to a Basel-less Art Week with a new concept, enhanced programming and plenty of wow factor.
Design Miami/ CEO Jen Roberts is looking forward to the most challenging and intriguing edition of the fair to date.
As the CEO of the Design Miami/ fairs in both Miami and Basel, Switzerland, CEO Jen Roberts is accustomed to change and thinking fast on her feet. After all, producing world-class design fairs is not for the faint of heart. But this year proved to be an exceptionally challenging one as COVID-19 changed the way everyone does business. Undaunted by the pandemic, Roberts and her team did what they had to do to deliver a showcase that sounds more exciting and dynamic than ever before.
“Ironing Board” floor lamp by Greta Magnusson-Grossman, presented by R & Company
So, 15 years after it was founded, Design Miami/ is back at its original home in the Design District. How do you feel about that? We are really excited to be back in the Moore Building where Design Miami/ was conceived. It’s a gorgeous space and provides a beautiful setting. The Moore Building is also more controllable in terms of traffic flow, allowing us to create more of an exclusive boutique experience.
This year’s theme is Podium. What is that all about? Podium is an exhibition concept that we have been working on for over a year. Our curatorial director, Aric Chen, has curated an approximately 152-piece exhibition focusing on the theme of America(s), which provides a platform for designers of diverse and varied backgrounds to exhibit works that have a point of view on what America means to them. Beyond the Podium aspect, there will be modified gallery and partner exhibitions, some of which are embracing the theme while others are creating their own narratives.
Chair from Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, presented by R & Company
Tell us about some of the galleries participating and what we can expect from them. Carpenters Workshop will come with a lighting exhibition called Bright Futures. Jason Jacques Gallery will be presenting some incredible pieces from Rick Owens. Todd Merrill Studio will be coming with an exhibition of new work from designers such as Marc Fish. R & Company will present a roundup of some of their best designers. And Moderne Gallery will present Nakashima and other masters of the American studio craft movement. In Podium, the America(s) exhibition will present some unexpected material including Native American craft and traditional folk art alongside newly created ceramics by contemporary designer-makers like Adam Silverman and Malene Barnett. And this year, the show will have strong eclectic presentations from Miami galleries Mindy Solomon Gallery, Tile Blush, Carbonell Design Studio and Ponce Berga from West Palm Beach.
The fair goes far beyond the Moore Building to activate as much of the Design District as possible. What do those initiatives include? We have been working with a number of brands in the Miami Design District to develop programming that touches on the design of our theme of America(s). For instance, Fendi is producing an exhibition with a female American designer that they will present in front of their boutique.
“Beehive” hanging lamp by George Nelson, presented by R & Company
“Tupac MLK Teapot” by Roberto Lugo, presented by Wexler Gallery
Any other surprises? There will be, but if I share them, they won’t be a surprise. I can say that we will have a beautiful Perrier X Murakami rooftop that will delight visitors as a grand finale to their show experience.
The fair has partnered with the University of Miami Health System to implement a variety of safety measures. What should visitors know about this? Some of the health protocols we are implementing include social distancing signage, contact tracing, hand sanitizers, temperature checking, continuous high-touch-area cleaning, timed entry, and, of course, the requirement to wear masks. Everyone who works on-site will be tested multiple times. We made a point of taking UM’s suggestions and going even further to create a really comfortable and controlled environment.
“Ella Phentzgerald” hex bench by The Haas Brothers, presented by R & Company
“Bridges” vase by Roberto Lugo, presented by Wexler Gallery
You had to pivot in a major way to make this year’s Design Miami/ happen. What did that teach you? There have been many lessons, but it has reaffirmed the idea that nothing in life is a sure thing. We talk about community all the time, but this year it has become much clearer what community means.
At 10 days, the fair is also longer this year. What do you plan to do after it’s all over? Collapse! If borders permit, I will be on a sailboat en route to the Bahamas. The whole team will need some downtime and get ready to start all over again in January. Nov. 27-Dec. 6, Moore Building, 191 NE 41st St., Miami
“La Brea Brad Pitt” mammoth carpet by The Haas Brothers, presented by R & Company
Photography by: photos courtesy of the galleries and design miami/; Robert photo by Nick Garcia