Although it may not have looked the same as in years past, Miami’s Art Week 2020 and Design Miami soldiered on amidst the pandemic, providing a combination of virtual, in-person, and outdoor creations for art lovers.
According to the Design Miami website, this year’s “America(s)” theme brought in a range of “iconic designs and works by lesser-known historical figures” and “a multiplicity of contemporary voices” aimed at presenting “an expanded and more complex, diverse, and inclusive portrait of collectible design in, of, and about America.”
From dazzling to dynamic, the following highlighted works represent the eclectic range of pieces that delighted viewers in the Magic City:
In collaboration with Berea College Student Craft, famed industrial designer Stephen Burks produced a 360-degree rainbow broom. Constructed from broomcorn and handles and measuring almost four feet in diameter, the suspended burst of bristles is an extension of Burks’ endeavor to use traditional artisanal techniques to help craft traditions survive the test of time. The Broom Thing is available for $4,000 from the Design Miami shop, and all proceeds benefit students in financial hardship.
Dreaming with Lions
Commissioned by Faena Arts, this outdoor sculpture by Cuban artist Alexandre Arrechea is a tribute to Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Assembled in the sand facing the Faena Hotel, the 62-foot-wide coliseum uses folded red and white beach towels laid strategically on shelves to spell out phrases from the classic novel. It reads: “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is,” and “But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
“We are facing one of the biggest challenges ever experienced in our lifetime,” said Arrechea. “I wanted to reflect on this and inspire, reminding the viewer of humankind’s resilience and strength of spirit in these troubling times.”
Housed in Miami’s historic Moore Building, Curiosity Cloud is a chandelier-like installation spotlighting multi-colored butterflies encased in 22 hanging bulbs of various sizes. The mechanical insects individually and randomly awaken, flitting around inside their cages for a few moments. Conceived by Austrian firm mischer’traxler, Curiosity is “a reflection on the relationship between man and nature, the influence of human activity on the natural world, and the importance of biodiversity.”
Also in the Moore Building, Stuart Haygarth’s lamp, titled “Island,” works well as a symbol of 2020 even though it was fabricated almost a decade earlier. Comprising a flock of knickknacky birds fitted tightly together at the base, the lamp casts a soft glow for each cramped but physically separated fowl. The birds stand on their own island of space without having room to move anywhere else on the larger reef.
Pink Pirarucu Chair
Created by the Campana Brothers of Brazil, this updated version of the Pirarucu chair is an embodiment of an Amazonian sea creature. Covered in scales chipped out of creamy leather and held up by bamboo legs, it is also aptly labeled with a descriptor tag of “mermaid mythology.”
The inclusion of Jorge Zalszupin’s mid-century Tea Cart showcased more Brazilian art. The iconic composition was inspired by the 1950s baby carriages in fashion in Poland, where the artist was born. The removable tray sits atop the sleek lines of a brass and wood form. The oversized wheels balance the geometric shapes of the base, providing an overall sense of whimsy.
German ceramic designer Corinna Petra Friedrich exhibited several new works, including her lively vase called “The Quilt.” The hand-made vessel was made by laying African fabric-inspired prints onto slabs of wet clay and cutting them into pieces for assembly once they dried.
Erected in the Miami Design District, Conscious Actions is the brainchild of Chilean studio Good Things To People. The open-air structure incorporates three adult-sized swings that cause red slats overhead to ripple in a wave-like motion when in use. After being asked to reflect on “both the energy that we consume and the energy that we contribute back to the world,” CT2P co-founder Guillermo A Parada said the project “invites users to enjoy the care-free fun of childhood again, while also being reminded of the direct impact every action has on our environment and our communities.”
While some of Art Week 2020 has already been dismantled or returned, many of the works can still be viewed online at Design Miami/Podium 2020’s website.