Masterpieces of two icons: Laffanour-Galerie Downtown, Paris, presented chairs, stools and tables designed by Jean Prouvé as like as storages by Charlotte Perriand.
Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
Voulez vous Prouvé?
by Uta Abendroth
Jun 27, 2014

House “F 8x8 BCC” (1942) on show at Patrick Seguin, the “Trapèze Grand Modèle” table (1954) at Jousse Entreprise’s, various chairs, tables and aluminum elements with those typical round cut-outs at Laffanour Galerie Downtown – 30 years after Jean Prouvé’s death, the galleries are proudly displaying a whole host of the engineer’s original furniture items and houses. With these exhibits, the French really set the tone in Hall 1 of Design Miami/Basel, which takes place parallel to Art Basel and this year has “The Global Forum for Design” as motto.

Nowhere are design galleries better off than in the immediate proximity of contemporary art, where collectors are willing to shell out larger sums. Meaning the fact that art is next door is definitely to the benefit of Design Miami/Basel. That said, the show doesn’t seem quite as internationally swish as the trade-fair opposite might intimate. Okay, the plethora of vintage furniture items lets you enjoy a tour of the fair in the form of time travelling through design history. For example, Berlin’s Ulrich Fiedler favors a selection of De Stijl, including Gerrit Rietveld’s “Red Billet Armchair” (1924) or a small table by a friend of Rietveld, painter Willem van Leusden (1925). Galerie Chastel-Marechal presents Jean Royère’s expansive “Ours Polaire” armchair (1952) and his wall luminaire entitled “Nuage” (1959) as well as a cupboard and bedside table by Paul Dupré-Lafon (1935).

A mix of history and the present is to be found at the booth of Parisian Galerie Kreo, which is soon set to open a subsidiary in London. Standing lamps from the 1950s contrast with a candelabra by New York-based Israeli designer Ron Gilad, who has bundled 16 black desk lamps to form a sculpted piece reminiscent of spider legs. And one table is a real eye-catcher: Brynjar Sigurðarson’s “Dining Table”, a one-off made of ash, nylon ropes, feathers, fur, and printed fabric.

Designers such as Sebastian Bergne, Benjamin Graindorge, Sylvain Rieu Piquet and Normal Studio have likewise gone for striking tables and sideboards for the “Marquetry: The Sleeping Beauty” collection fielded by Paris’ Ymer & Malta gallery. The brief: All the ideas had to feature inlay work, that famed Art Nouveau and Art Déco technique that has gone out of fashion in the West – and a challenge for the designers. Together with French craftsmen they came up with furniture that is as artistic as it is contemporary. Dutch Priveekollektie gallery also goes for current design with the last available editions of Hella Jongerius’ “Misfits” vases, Dominic Harris’s “Shimmers”, circular lighting sculptures, and Roderick Vos Montigny’s drawers and shelves “8+2AP+2P”.

US collector and creative director Dennis Freedman curated the “Design at large” show, which supplements the gallery booths. The topic he chose: mutation and metamorphosis. How can a design item be both finished and mutable, durable and contemporary, an expression of an artistic stance and yet open to chance and surprise? The designs by Chris Kabel, Sheila Hicks, Eske Rex, Anton Alvarez and Dominic Harris are in part still at the project stage, and seem to be closer to art than to design. Only Jean Maneval’s “Six-Shell Bubble House” (1968) is a designer piece, and in the hall it actually functions more as a reference to the project in Basel hosted by the main sponsor, Audi.

In a special zone at the end of the hall, Audi presents the “TT Pavilion” by Konstantin Grcic, a walkthrough spatial object that can be erected as a standalone in any place. The mobile living machine resembles a modern version of a “Bubble House” or temporary Prouvé buildings. The TT’s hatchback is turned into protruding, wing-like elements, while the window openings take the shape of the radiator grille. Grcic was inspired by the “Audi TT”: “For me, the Audi TT is a car that you drive out of town and out into the countryside. I respond to that experience with a pavilion concept that stands as a trip destination to some remote place.” Using the auto elements is Grcic’s way of incorporating industrial production processes more strongly into architectural solutions, he adds. In this project, you can again discern how different disciplines interlock. The references from the present to the past fulfill a need for security and pace the way into a future where design and art may even meld with industry. That is one insight from Design Miami/Basel 2014.

MORE on Stylepark:

A hungry child, a photographer and too many jokes: A tour on Art Basel with lawyer and art-aficionado Peter Raue
(24 June 2013)

Going vintage ain’t enough: The Design Miami trade fair lacked a clear curatorial thrust, exciting statements and not least a clear position on contemporary design.
(16 June 2013)

Designer Konstantin Grcic in front of his „TT Pavillon“, which is inspired by new „Audi TT“.
Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
Two armchairs by Charlotte Perriand “Chauffeuse“ and storage “Bibiothéque“ as like as table and light by Jean Prouvé, at Laffanour-Galerie Downtown, Paris.
Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
Each object of the „marquetry“-collection at Ymer & Malta is limited on eight pieces: Sebastian Bergnes table „Illusion“ (front); „Plane Tree“ by Norman Studios (Mitte); sideboard „cloudInChest“ by Benjamin Graindorge. Foto © Uta Abendroth
Ulrich Fiedler presented the „Red Billet Armchair“, designed by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld 1924 in Utrecht. Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
Patrick Seguin showed the „F 8x8 BCC House“ (1942), a collaboration by Pierre Jeanneret and Jean Prouvé. Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
„Wood Ring“ by Chris Kabel at the special show „Design At Large“.
Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
Back in the future: Jean Manevals „Six-Shell ‘Bubble‘ House“ (1968), with courtesy by Gallery Jousse Entreprise. Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
For „Design at Large“ Sheila Hicks experimented with a synthetic textile.
Photo © James Harris for Design Miami/Basel
Ready for landing: Konstantin Grcic used for the „Audi TT“ mobile house hatches of the car. Photo © Audi