art design

Miami Art and Design Week 2021: Artisan Botanical Furnishings, Electric Cars, and More

Glading Marteen 

This week, the AD team is in sunny Florida to report from the ground at Miami Art and Design Week. Get your bearings in our preview article, and be sure to check back in for what we’re seeing on Days 2 and 3.

Cool Whip

For nearly half a decade, Lexus has commissioned creatives for installations at Design Miami. In years past, those setups have involved a shiny new Lexus vehicle being shown on site, ready for oohs and ahhs from car nerds and design heads alike. But for this year’s edition, titled ON/, the brand has gone more conceptual, with a suspended, wire-outline version of the LF-Z Electrified, a battery-fueled electric concept car. Produced at 1-to-1 scale to the real thing, the project was dreamed up by local whiz Germane Barnes and his cadre of University of Miami design students, and was produced by Matchless in Portland, Oregon.

ON/ by Germane Barnes and the University of Miami, presented by Lexus for Design Miami 2021.

Photo: Steve Benisty

“We asked them to bring this idea of electrification to life,” explains Brian Bolain, Lexus’s general manager of global marketing and PR. (Though the annual commission usually involves an emerging designer, the collaboration with a school was a new addition—and as Barnes points out, helps bolster the idea of supporting the future of design.) Alongside the car, which hovers over a high-gloss, colorfully lit floor, Barnes and crew have also set up highly Instagrammable arches on each side of the vehicle, each one with a swing inside. (The idea? “Swinging into the carbon-neutral future that Lexus is creating,” says Barnes.)

Furniture vignettes made up of custom tables and chairs also populate the corners, adding an interactive touch to the display. Unified by a repeating arch motif, the series is “a small tip back to our university,” says Barnes, as “the arches reference local Miami vernacular—Art Deco and Miami Modernism.”

AD100 Kicks Off

As designers and artists trickled into town, the question on everyone’s mind was Are you going to see Troye Sivan? The Australian crooner, whose Flack Studio–designed home was the subject of a recent AD open door, performed poolside around 9 p.m. on Tuesday at the Goodtime Hotel as part of a celebration of the launch of the newest AD100 list. Watching on in admiration were many of the list’s debut and veteran members, including Ken Fulk, Rodman Primack, Mandy Cheng, and others. (Read more about the evening—and the backstory of Sivan’s stage design and collaboration with Pam Shamshiri—here.) Welcoming guests to the event, AD’s global editorial director and US editor in chief Amy Astley captured a universal sentiment: “I’m so thrilled to be back in Miami—I missed you desperately last year.”

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Talking Heads

It isn’t only the latest in lighting and furniture on offer at Design Miami, but big ideas, too. To hear a few of them ourselves, we joined the Art & Innovation talks hosted by Whitewall and Lexus. In a salon-like setting near Harry Nuriev’s immersive Bedroom installation, and just past an art-and-design book pop-up (where Peter Marino’s Architecture of Chanel and Mickalene Thomas’s new volume from Assouline caught our attention), professionals gathered to hear from some of the fair’s most insightful affiliates. Tuesday afternoon, designers Dror Benshetrit, Archana Menon, and Harry Nuriev took the stage with architect Thomas Coldefy and moderator Alessandro Possati to discuss how artists and designers are creating for a more sustainable future. Nuriev emphasized that material innovation is facilitating new possibilities in design, while Menon discussed how alternative construction technologies are helping to shape new work.

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Glading Marteen