At the swimming pool of the Mondrian Hotel (designed by Marcel Wanders in a neo-kitsch style) the rich and beautiful loll around in 26 degrees enjoying the sun. True, it is early December and in Europe winter has arrived amidst snow and ice chaos, but Miami is hosting the art and design fair and everyone has come: the gallery owners from all over the world with their Picassos, Mirós, Richters, Calders, Baselitzes and Holzers, the art collectors, who - ideally incognito - are on the lookout for the next trophy, the Hollywood stars such as Adrian Brody, who seek to lend the event glamour and yet stand in the shadow of art, the rich and beautiful, the experts and would-be experts, the aesthetes and nouveau riches, the shoptalkers, art gourmets and... Konstantin Grcic!
Yes, you heard correctly, one of the Germany's best designers, whose work has absolutely nothing superficially glamorous or pretentious about it. He of all people has been named the "Designer of the Year" at Design Miami, which for the first time this year takes place in a tent right next to the art fair. Konstantin Grcic does not seem to fit into the bizarre scenery and yet he manages to lend it true brilliance. His feather-light installation in front of the entrance to the fair, which invites visitors to pause, take a seat and swing in it, and the main exhibition of the fair, which reflects Grcic's unmistakable handwriting through products such as "Miura", "Myto" and "Chair One", form a stark contrast to the motley collection of special editions, re-editions of classic items, artisanship and design kitsch shown at Design Miami by the 20 exhibiting galleries. You begin to wonder what concept, if any, there is behind this fair - a genuine debate on its theme that differentiates itself from art (which, given the proximity to the latter, would have been an obvious choice) simply does not take place.
Interestingly, the most visited place in the fair after Konstantin Grcic's exhibition is the presentation by the main sponsor, Audi. Even though the exhibited electric prototype of an "e-Tron Spyder" is a real eye catcher, Audi is not content to simply showcase a car. The whole thing is embedded in the context of a "futuristic gas station" conceived by Munich graphic designer Mirko Borsche, who for the future of "electronic fueling", when people will have to accept longer waiting periods whilst the car is recharging, has created a stylish, comfortable lounge space complete with organic food. And precisely because not everything is taken so seriously and Audi interprets the future of automobility in a playful manner, the concept works remarkably well.
Otherwise, there is a prevalence of not so inspiring presentations; a stronger influence by curators and clear instructions for the exhibitors would greatly benefit the event. Precisely because next door one of the world's best art fairs is taking place, boasting masterpieces by Mark Rothko (one is said to have changed hands for 30 million dollars) and by Paul Klee (the sales price for one work reached 4.6 million).
As such, you cannot help but think that Design Miami seeks to benefit from the structures of the art fair, but that it does not really have a logical concept to offer itself. We simply look in vain for the Global Forum for Design that Design Miami confidently calls itself. Take more risks! - we feel like shouting to the fair's organizers. It has just been announced that Marianne Goebl, previously Head of Public Relations & Partnerships at Vitra, is to become the new Director of Design Miami. Something to look forward to!