For reasons that have nothing to do with its content, Design Miami/ is my favorite fair: it's small, easy to navigate, and makes you want to touch everything (and, when it's a chair, you can). But as a platform for design, the global forum unwittingly becomes a showcase for visionary thought—utilizing design to imagine the future. Things may seem bleak but at Design Miami/, we found solace and hope in the ideas and dreams of those destined to shape and save the world: women.
Here are just ten we adored, in a sea of designers both emergent and long-established.
Nathalie Du Pasquier at Plusdesign
A founding member of the Memphis group, Nathalie Du Pasquier's drawings, paintings, and sculptures are bright and geometric and so much fun to look at (and she's self-taught!). This speaker, at Plusdesign Gallery's street scene Curio booth, reminded us of Dutch mid-century design and something the Jetsons might keep in their house.
Deon Rubi at Giovanni Beltran
Deon Rubi makes large-scale and small-scale work, and both her jewelry and furniture is simultaneously minimalistic and ostentatious (it takes a steady hand to do what what she does with fine metals and huge hunks of glass). At Under the Endless Sky, a group exhibition, Deon Rubi's aluminum bench vaguely resembles stacks of hardware you might find at a construction site. The aluminum tubes support each other without any welding, snuggled into place. Designed by Office GA, the booth's LED screen—one of the most weirdly beautiful sights in the whole fair—cast renderings of the rolling sea and falling snow onto the furniture, and the sheen of her bench was the perfect canvas.
Mimi Jung at Chamber
How can something so delicate become so majestic? The dramatic swoop, the blue-pink gradient of the weaving—Mimi Jung's wall looks like the movement of the sun as it dips below the horizon in the evening. There is so much history rooted in the art of weaving. Jung makes the complex repetition of the act result in pieces that border on the ethereal.
Anne Barrès at Magen H Gallery
Anne Barrès' designs suggest movement, one defined and led solely by the material, as if it had an imaginative life of its own. We liked that this coiled sculpture felt lifted from within the soil.
Beate Kuhn at Jason Jacques Inc.
Born in Düsseldorf in 1927, Beate Kuhn was an avid potter and ceramicist who worked until her passing in 2015. The daughter of a sculptor and a pianist, and a child of World War II, Kuhn's mostly-abstract aesthetic seems inspired by the flow of nature: rivers, tides, growth. They're bright, colorful, and sensuous, and make you want to run your hands along all of them.
Frida Fjellman at Hostler Burrows
In an environment that felt otherwise so sleek, the thoughtful disregard for minimalism in Frida Fjellman's big, rock-candy chandeliers had us imagining them growing like flowers on a stem.
Katie Stout at R & Company
Katie Stout dazzled Nina Johnson Gallery (formerly Gallery Diet) with her show, Docile/Domicile/Dandy: bubblegum-pink Sculptamold vanities, shiny plush chairs, a sock-covered armoire. Everything looked as if it could become animated, brought to life, and her ceramic pieces have that same kinesthetic quality. She calls her style "naïve pop," and while it's lighthearted, it's far too smart to be considered wholly playful.
Barbara Nanning at Pierre Marie Giraud
Barbara Nanning has stated she "always works from the circle; it's an archetype" and from there, her work expands outward. This is probably why her sculptural pieces are organically voluptuous, like cells.
Faye Toogood at Friedman Benda
Faye Toogood's work is not just about the product itself, but the space it occupies—there's a curatorial element to her work. This piece is called Roly-Poly Chair / Moon, and it's reminiscent of earth creatures and the cosmos. It is, in equal measure, theatrical, dramatic, and cozy.
Justine Mahoney at Southern Guild
Justine Mahoney grew up in South Africa during apartheid, and her interest in the fantastical power of the imagination is charged with the reality of that racial and sociopolitical tension. Note the reference to traditional African art and the slightly disturbing creepiness of this mostly charming, toy-like sculpture.