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Victoria Yakusha Design Miami/

Anna Carnick Curates “Where We Stand” for Design Miami/ 2023

Katy Donoghue

5 December 2023

Design Miami/ Curatorial Director Anna Carnick on this year’s edition of the fair.

This year’s edition of Design Miami/ features more than 40 galleries and Curio exhibitions, alongside presentations from a multitude of partners and collaborators. All were invited to respond to this year’s theme, “Where We Stand,” selected by curatorial director Anna Carnick. Whitewaller asked Carnick about how designers are responding to a celebration of place, community, and heritage and the inspiration that comes from deep connection.

Anna Carnick Design Miami/

Anna Carnick, portrait by Paul Barbera, courtesy of Design Miami/.

Anna Carnick Curates “Where We Stand”

WHITEWALLER: How did you arrive at the theme for this year, “Where We Stand”? 

ANNA CARNICK: “Where We Stand” is a celebration of design inspired by place, community, and heritage—and the beauty and power that can be drawn from our most intimate, rooted connections. It asks: How does our relationship to the very ground beneath our feet and the people with whom we share it inform our sense of belonging, the obligations we have to one another, and our paths forward? 

There’s a quote I return to often in my work. Activist and novelist Elif Shafak wrote: “Stories bring us together. Untold stories keep us apart.” “Where We Stand” is an invitation to look at objects as anthropological markers that reveal an array of stories about the time and place in which they were made. Listening to these stories can be a powerful force, capable of strengthening the connections that bind us all together. 

Lina Bo Bardi Design Miami/

Design Miami_ Bowl chair first model, 1950’s by Lina Bo Bardi at Diletante 42. Image courtesy of Diletante 42

WW: How have you found presenters and designers/artists responding to that theme? 

AC: I’ve found the responses inspiring and thought-provoking. From joyful personal expressions and celebrations of place and community to socially conscious design responses to our day’s most pressing issues—the climate crisis, war, polarization, systemic racism, attacks on human rights, and more—exhibitors are demonstrating design’s potential as a tool for storytelling, nurturing connectivity, and even activism. 

Design Miami/ Holds Up a Mirror to This Moment

WW: Within that theme, we’ll see a focus on how design bears witness and responds to the world around us. Are there some examples you could share? 

AC: Yes, there are some incredibly poetic pieces that hold a mirror up to this moment. I invited Lagos-based designer Nifemi Marcus-Bello to create a special work for the fair to sit beside the curatorial statement. His powerful response, entitled Omi Iyo (which means salt water in Yoruba), reflects on the human toll of the migration crisis—a globally resonant topic, to be sure, in this case specifically focused on the experiences of those who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe. The work simultaneously draws attention to this urgent humanitarian issue and encourages visitors to consider our own role in it by way of a mirrored surface.

Zizipho Poswa Design Miami/

Mam uNoSayini, 2023 by Zizipho Poswa at Southern Guild, photo by Hayden Phipps and Southern Guild, courtesy of Design Miami/.

WW: You’ve said, “The stories we tell are important.” What are some of those stories we’ll see? 

AC: There are so many! In addition to the above, there are, for example, several works that honor community. Southern Guild will present large-scale bronze totems by Zizipho Poswa, made in homage to the daily labors performed by women in Poswa’s home village of Holela in rural Eastern Cape, South Africa. The stunning pieces highlight these women’s roles as custodians of Xhosa customs who pass traditions on from one generation to the next. 

Ukrainian designer Victoria Yakusha of FAINA studio will debut “The Land of Light,” a seating collection conceived as a celebration of the undimmable spirit of the Ukrainian people. The work is formally inspired by mythical animals and encourages people everywhere to look within for strength and light. As she says: “In these turbulent times, The Land of Light rises as a lighthouse, navigating us away from despair . . . [It] beckons one to recognize and magnify their own internal luminosity.”

Pieter Maes Design Miami/

Meridienne, 2022 by Pieter Maes at Ateliers Courbet, courtesy of Ateliers Courbet and Design Miam/.

“The stories we tell are important,” — Anna Carnick

WW: Within your role at Anava Projects, you’re dedicated to nurturing emerging talent and community. Are there any emerging talents we’ll find at this year’s edition of Design Miami/? 

AC: There definitely are! Two standouts include British-Portuguese ceramicist Toni De Jesus, who will show some incredible pieces with J. Lohmann Gallery, and the abovementioned Marcus-Bello, who will, in addition to Omi Iyo, also present a Curio featuring sandcast, upcycled metal works with L.A.’s Marta gallery. Both designers come from a very personal place to create expertly crafted, poetic objects that explore intimate, layered, and broadly resonant stories. 

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A few of our favorites from Design Miami/’s well-curated collection of pieces by leading global designers, open this week.
Co-founders of Art Mamas Alliance Helen Toomer and Katy Donoghue, moderated a conversation with Designing Motherhood co-author Michelle Millar Fisher, kinder MODERN's Lora Appleton, and curator and author of Culture as Catalyst Isolde Brielmaier.
Whitewall's Editor in Chief Katy Donoghue moderated the discussion with designers Yves Béhar and Marcel Wanders, artists Simon and Nikolai Haas, as well as President of CALTY Design Research Kevin Hunter.

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