Chairs by Marina Abramović and Dr. Woo among objects at Design Miami 2023

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Chairs adorned with “spiritual” crystals and lamps made with McDonald’s packaging were among the collectible design objects displayed at Design Miami 2023, held during Miami art week.

Founded in 2005, the annual fair also held in Basel, Shanghai and Paris brings together global design studios to display collectable historic and contemporary furniture, lighting and other objects, along with additional programming.

Top: London-based Gallery Fumi won best gallery presentation. Photo by Stephane Aboudaram. Above: Marina Abramović showcased furniture infused with crystals. Photo courtesy HAADA

Design Miami 2023 presented over 40 galleries, housed in booths and other installations throughout a tent located along Convention Centre Drive.

Presented with HAADA gallery, sculptural wooden chairs debuted in 2012 at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) in Milan by artist Marina Abramović marking the artist’s “foray into the world of collectible design”, according to the gallery.

Tattoo artist Dr. Woo and niceworkshop created aluminium furniture inscribed with woodgrain. Photo courtesy niceworkshop

The pieces included two small chairs with crystals affixed to their feet and others with tall wooden backs that extend over the user’s head, from which larger crystals are suspended. The chairs are meant to create space for meditation.

“The idea that physical objects might be created only to serve spiritual purposes is a powerful provocation in today’s ravenous consumer society,” said HAADA. “Abramović’s chair is the icon that galvanizes this discussion, and will prove itself as a future reliquary that crystallizes this contemporary debate on the twin crises of consumption and spirituality.”

Designer Nifemi Marcus-Bell presented sculptural furniture informed by Nigeria’s history of craft. Photo by Eric Petschek

For digital marketplace Basic.Space tattoo artist Dr. Woo partnered with Seoul-based studio niceworkshop to create a cubic set of aluminium tables and chairs.

For the furniture collection, Dr. Woo created a wood-grain pattern that was later engraved onto an aluminium chair and table by a team of assistants, exploring the dichotomy between the intimate experience of tattooing skin versus translating a pattern onto a metallic surface.

Gyuhan Lee created a series of lamps with repurposed McDonald’s waste paper. Photo by NPR.

Presented by Los Angeles gallery Marta Gallery, Lagos-based designer Nifemi Marcus-Bell showcased a series of functional sculptures that pay homage to Nigeria’s history of craft.

Marcus-Bell made the small collection of benches and sculptures from sand-cast aluminium, a material commonly used by Lagos auto parts manufacturers, whom he connected with while repairing his own vehicle.

Kohler and Samuel Ross created a bright orange exhibit to showcase a twisted, orange faucet. Photo courtesy Kohler

Some booths showcased concept-heavy designs were on display, such as Side Gallery, which presented work by Seoul-based designer Gyuhan Lee and British designer Mac Collins.

Collin’s created a second iteration of his oak wood table, stools and dominoes set for this year’s Design Miami, having previously shown the first collection as a “corrective act of representation” at Harewood House, an English country house with ties to the slave trade.

Villa Albertine and the Mobilier National presented a series of works among a white set designed by curator Alban Roger. Photo by Matthew Gordon

Lee’s work continued his investigation of consumerism by repurposing McDonald’s paper bags into a material which he used to construct a series of geometric lamps covered with the brand’s logo. The designer also layered the traditional Korean paper “Hanji” into the lighting, creating a new material that breaks “away from the mass production of the usual object in which we can find the symbol”.

Also among the designers who took a conceptual approach was New York and Paris-based designer Harry Nuriev, who presented Tapestry Sofa, a recliner covered in custom textile reminiscent of a worn-out French tapestry integrated with modern motifs,

Designer Harry Nuriev presented a reclining couch covered in a textile with “worn out” and contemporary motifs. Photo by James Harris

Some of the booths included all-encompassing installations.

These included Kohler, which partnered with British designer Dr Samuel Ross and his industrial design studio SR_A to display a bright orange, twisted faucet in a large-scale exhibit. The faucet was integrated into oversized, blocky pedestals of the same colour, where the running water fell down channels and into their bases.

Villa Albertine and the Mobilier National presented a range of sculptures, lighting and textiles by Atelier George, Atelier d’Offard, Chloé Bensahel, Gala Espel and Dimitri Hlinka in a stark white set curated by Alban Roger.

The Future Perfect presented sculptural pieces among a large USM shelving system. Photo courtesy The Future Perfect

Other works included “furry” 3D-printed light fixtures by designer Virginia San Fratello with New York-based Cristina Grajales Gallery that are intended to “inspire intense happiness”, according to the designer, while The Future Perfect displayed a collection of sculptures amongst a towering nine-foot-tall USM modular shelving system.

Belgium gallery Atelier Ecru Gallery presented a series of brutalist furniture and organic sculptures by local designers, while New York-based gallery Superhouse presented a collection of textural tapestries, furniture and sculptures that highlight the fibre arts.


Lara Bohinc uses colour-coated cork for bulbous outdoor furniture in Miami

Inspired in Barcelona and Il·lacions presented A New Decorum, which showcased furniture in a variety of forms and materials against an ombré lamp by Antoni Arola, created to evoke the Barcelona sky.

London-based Gallery Fumi won best gallery presentation with its presentation of wooden scale-covered furniture by German designer Lukas Wegwerth, wall art made of nested plywood chips by British sculptor Rowan Mersh and colourful, patterned lighting by US-American designer Jeremy Anderson.

Inspired in Barcelona and gallery Il·lacions showcased large-scale furniture of varying materials. Photo by James Harris

This year’s Where We Stand theme, organized by curatorial director Anna Carnick, focused on “the importance of honouring and nurturing human connection”.

Other recent design shows that include collectible design include Mueble Escultura in Argentina and INTRO/LA in Los Angeles.

Design Miami took place from 5-10 December 2023 in Miami Beach, US. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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