Sponsor-driven works dominate at Design Miami

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The Independent Online

The annual design fair, which ran concurrently with Art Basel Miami and wrapped up December 5, stayed true to its commercial rather than groundbreaking approach.

Design Miami's biggest sponsors, Audi, HSBC, Fendi, and Swarovski dominated the fair with the projects they commissioned, ranging from Fendi's Design Performances - an evolution of their Craft Punk project during Milan's Saloni earlier this year - to Swarovski's Crystal Palace.

Architect Greg Lynn unveiled his structure for the jewelry label's ongoing design series made of crystal-encrusted panel 'sails,' saying that they were "made to cope with massive loads from the wind," even though just one millimeter thick - light and thin enough to be folded into the trunk of a car despite their surface of up to 50 square meters.

Tom Dixon's 'Light Light' installation for Audi, which reinterpreted the materials of a car, was another highlight. Design Miami's decision to let the relatively young and inexperienced designer do the honors, following icons such as Zaha Hadid, caused controversy in the forefield. But organizers said that "his work has transformed the way collectors understand the landscape of contemporary design and has opened the market to a younger generation of designers."

Fendi's Design Performances featured a show by the band OK Go, who performed with laser-integrated electric guitars, a design by Moritz Waldemeyer who was also responsible for U2 singer Bono's spectacular laser jacket worn at the band's gig in Barcelona in June.

Three noteworthy new galleries participated at this year's event: Mitterand + Cramer from Geneva and Paul Kasmin Gallery as well as Droog from New York, with the latter's Amsterdam branch debuting its 'design house' decorated entirely with Droog products.

But as design magazine Fast Company put it: "[Design Miami] remains a cherry on the international design circuit: A nice topper to the year, but no substantial meal."