design miami

i’d like to go on record as saying that by comparison, contemporary design makes contemporary art seem completely reasonable.    coinciding with the art fairs in miami is design miami – “the global forum for collecting, exhibiting, discussing and creating design.”   we went to the opening and i found it, well, unnerving.   first of all, everyone was TOUCHING the work.   as someone who deals with fine (as opposed, i guess, to functional) art, this makes me break out in a cold sweat.   never touch art you don’t own.   there were some interesting and beautiful objects — creepily amusing video clocks by maarten baas  and the elegant “fractal table” by oberfell/wertel/bar at moss ($42,000).

a couple of examples of the kind of stuff exhibited that i hated:  tom dixon’s steel chair that’s been corroding in biscayne bay ever since it didn’t sell at last year’s fair and more of maarten baas’s burned up iconic modern furniture (this year a cabinet designed by ettore sottsass).

but the worst thing i saw was a “walking table.”     ?!     a perfect example of a horrible idea, poorly executed.    the clunky monstrosity doesn’t so much walk as shudder and lurch.  i just finished reading “frankenstein” and i couldn’t help thinking this would make mary shelley spin in her grave.

another table — points scored for the craftsmanship of the inlay…

but who really wants to look at this kind of iconography while they eat?    maybe it’d be amusing the first time, but imagine sitting at it dinner party after dinner party?    and just try to find dinnerware that would look decent on it.

jury out on these ceiling fans…    made of fabric, they spin out and undulate “like the skirt of a flamenco dancer.”     admittedly,  kind of fun…    but as louis would say, do you really want your interior to have more personality than you have?

which is pretty much the fatal flaw with about everything at design miami…

i did see one fan i loved — the new dyson design (not at the actual fair, but in a showroom across the street) is amazing.     it’s a table fan without blades.    i don’t know about you, but i have a sick fear of fan blades.   you know,  afraid you might not be able to help sticking your finger in?    problem solved.     and even if you aren’t afraid of cutting off the end of your finger, you do know how grotesquely filthy fan blades get.     second problem solved.    how can this possibly work?   it was explained to me, and i thought i understood it, but i really can’t explain it to you now.  sorry.   so maybe i can’t define it, but i do know it when i see it.   this is what design should be  —  elegant,  intelligent, functional.