At Design Miami / Basel The Line Between Art and Design Is Difficult To Find BY ANN BINLOT

Ann Binlot, Artsy, June 15, 2016

Installation view of Louisa Guinness’s booth at Design Miami/ Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.


For 10 years, Art Basel and Design Miami/ Basel have been closely entwined, showing art and design alongside one another in both Miami Beach and Basel. And the pairing is a natural fit, considering that art and design have overlapped for decades—from Isamu Noguchi’s coffee tables to Salvador Dali’s chairs to Meret Oppenheim’s sugar ring.  


“In the earlier days of the collectible design market, people were always trying to co-opt the word art-design,” said Rodman Primack, the executive director of Design Miami/ Basel, which opened its 11th edition on Monday. “For a while, it was called art-design or design-art, I think because people didn’t think that design, and the ethics and standards and the values of design, would stand on their own. The art market was such a powerful market, that the way to get people to pay attention was to say design-art and kind of co-opt it.”


Although that’s no longer the case, and artists are experimenting with design and vice versa on their own accord—think Jessi Reaves’s recent, much talked about show at New York’s Bridget Donahue gallery, where the artist showed furniture-sculpture hybrids—art and design still continue to crossover primarily because both are aesthetic practices. So it is fitting that this  year’s installment of Design Miami/ Basel features a strong showing of works that fuse art and design, from functional sculpture to artist-designed jewelry.


London-based gallery Louisa Guinness’s booth resembles a small museum featuring jewelry by some of history’s most illustrious artists, like Pablo PicassoMan Ray, and Louise Bourgeois. Pieces range from €1,500 for surrealist sculptor Claude Lalanne’s galvanized copper flower brooches to €200,000 for a silver necklace by Alexander Calder. Fairgoers had the rare opportunity to comb through drawers of jewelry in a section of the stand that doubled as an archive room, to boot. Gallery associate Tamara Platisa explained the appeal of designing jewelry for artists: “It was smaller, easier to work with; and because they were smaller pieces, so people could potentially afford them.”




Installation view of Louisa Guinness’s booth at Design Miami/ Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.