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Rodman Primack sees the 13th edition of Design Miami/ Basel as a “chance to take a step back and appreciate the qualities inherent in good design.” The 2018 fair, taking place June 12–17, brings together
47 galleries from 13 countries. On view are presentations and exhibitions of collectible design, rare furniture, lighting, and unique objects. Whitewaller checked in with Primack, chief creative officer of Design Miami/, to hear about highlights like “one-maker” booths; Design at Large, curated by François Halard; Stuart Parr’s vintage motorcycles, and more.
WHITEWALLER: How do you see the fair as an antidote to today’s current news-cycle frenzy and constant need to update?
RODMAN PRIMACK: I think Basel always tends to be weighted to more serious vintage material. There is something about seeing these beautiful, thoughtful, historical objects that reminds me of another time, not necessarily directly to the time they were produced, but to this sense that in the past people had more time to live graciously—to eat together around a beautiful table, to read comfortably in a specific chair.
WW: Five galleries will be participating for the first time. Who are some of the first-timers we should look out for?
RP: Paris-based Galerie Mitterrand will be showing a group of Lalanne pieces that I’m excited about—I have really been wanting to see this work at the fair for some time. Side Gallery is bringing historical Oscar Niemeyer pieces; Caterina Tognon from Venice is a wonderful voice in glass; Galerie Régis Mathieu has brought together a collection of incredible historical lights and chandeliers from the early 20th century; and our good friends from Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, The Future Perfect, make their Basel debut with a definitively contemporary program.
WW: Several solo presentations are planned. Can you tell us about a few you’re looking forward to seeing and what they bring to the overall feel of the fair?
RP: I am always pushing the galleries to do the “one-maker” presentations because I think they are so strong and informative. I always learn so much, but it is a major risk for the galleries to take, and a tough decision to make— not to mention a lot of work. I already mentioned the Lalanne solo show that Mitterrand has organized, but I am equally excited about Friedman Benda’s show with the masterful Japanese designers nendo. And I should not forget to mention Salon 94 Design’s soloshow with Kwangho Lee!
WW: An interesting Satellite project this year is a presentation of Stuart Parr’s vintage motorcycles. What kind of design conversation do you hope will happen around that?
RP: I’m always interested in reminding people that what we normally see in the gallery program is connected to the broader spectrum of industrial design, and that the creativity and innovation we see in collectible design pieces at the fair, particularly visible with the vintage work, was happening parallel
to advances in design across the entire spectrum of consumer goods.
WW: Can you tell us about what we can expect from Design at Large, curated by François Halard?
RP: François has documented some of the most important, beautiful, and inspiring spaces, places, and people for the last 30 years . . . He is like a walking encyclopedia of some of the most influential works of design—from the Casa Malaparte to Chareau’s Maison de Verre—and I think it has been this lifelong connection with design and architecture that has shaped his entire life and practice.
WW: We’ve come to look forward to the Curio installations at each edition of Design Miami/ and Design Miami/ Basel. Who are some of the participants this June?
RP: It is also one of my favorite parts of the fair, and I love that it just gets stronger every year. This year I’m really excited about Oscar Humphries’s collaboration with Galerie Chenel, presenting designs from ancient Rome! It’s wonderful to welcome a Curio project from Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Emiliano Godoy, working mainly in hand-blown glass, presented by Nouvel Limited. The National Taiwan
Craft Research and Development Institute will show a fantastic project in which traditional Taiwanese crafts have been interpreted and explored by seven international designers guided by Lise Coirier of Spazio Nobile.