Beach, sun and design: the best of Design Miami/

MIAMI – As the northern hemisphere heads into the darker and drearier months of the year, Miami gets its dose of sun and design with the 13th edition of Design Miami/. The array of exhibitions and events at the global design fair can be overwhelming, so Frame presents the highlights of Design Miami/ 2017, which just so happen to share an underlying theme.

Photo courtesy of Cos

The ephemerality of spring and its lasting impact on collective memories are explored with elegance and minimalism in the collaboration between Cos and Studio Swine. The second iteration of New Spring, the interactive installation – a tree-like sculpture which debuted in this year’s Salone del Mobile to great acclaim – releases mist-filled bubbles filled with one of five scents inspired by Florida and its flora. ‘We wanted to encapsulate a lifespan of emotions in an instant. To create a multisensory experience that was fleeting, but in its time evokes joy and vitality, if only to remain as a memory,’ explains Studio Swine.

Photo Casey Kelbaugh

Fondazione Prada approaches the same multisensory experience through a completely different lens with Prada Double Club Miami by Carsten Höller. In contrast to the subdued minimalism of New Spring, Höller creates a ‘schizophrenic’ wonderland with a fully-functioning nightclub. On one end is a monochromatic interior space, where guests are meant to ‘feel like they are the only element of colour’, and on the other a hyper-polychromatic exterior where a natural background of tropical foliage is amplified by the clash of neon lights. Decadence and hyperrealism are laid out without any concession to fusion, amounting to an unsettling atmosphere from which a powerful, thought-provoking dialogue can emerge.

Photo Paul Tahon Studio Bouroullec

Studio Bouroullec also tackles the extrapolation of nature into design with a pergola in front of the new concept store for Prada. Nuage is a series of large steel ‘clouds’ floating above with circular glass punched through it. The coloured glass ranges from blue to green, creating a colourful spectrum of shadows below. Thin pilotis support the structure amongst planted trees, and the designers hope for a slow invasion of nature over the pergola, showcasing a symbiotic relationship with the greenery and the slow gain of patina over the steel.

Photo Courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn

Exploring another aspect of our relationship with nature, Brooklyn-based artist Misha Kahn turns trash from the ocean into art in his exhibition at the Friedman Benda gallery. Midden Heap is a collection of objects resembling sea creatures, scrappy and bizarre-looking – confronting visitors with the problematic reality of waste management in our seas and oceans. Kahn describes the collection as taking cue from the behaviour of octopuses, which create middens of leftover food to hide their homes. At Design Miami/ a cast bronze Rasta mirror as well as a series of unique sconces from Kahn’s Saturday Morning series were on display. Kahn’s work is a peculiar assembly that takes visitors on a veritable treasure hunt.

Photo courtesy of Studio Drift and BMW Group

Our selection of Design Miami/’s highlights would not be complete without the ‘natural’ event produced by Studio Drift in partnership with BMW. The Dutch firm premiered FRANCHISE FREEDOM - a flying sculpture by Studio Drift in partnership with BMW, a spectacle of 300 drones mimicking a flock of starlings swarming over the beach and ocean.

Inspired by the murmuration of starlings in their massive flocks, Studio Drift questions the delicate balance between the group and the individual and uses drones to expose the tension between individual freedom and safety in numbers.


There is no better context for designers to come together with different interpretations of nature-conscious design than a city doomed to be one of the worst hit by the impending consequences of global warming. From celebrating nature to exposing manmade realities, the environment was the underlying theme of the five-day fair.

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