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December 6, 2019
Just north of Geneva sits the Vallée de Joux, where a confluence of forest, water, ice, and iron ore-rich rock gave way to a thriving watch industry centuries ago. It’s the birthplace of Audemars Piguet, and the area’s raw materials, paired with a grand landscape, have long inspired its watchmakers.
Fernando Mastrangelo is transporting visitors to that very place this week at Art Basel in Miami Beach’s Collectors Lounge. His installation for Audemars Piguet’s lounge draws in fairgoers immediately with the glow of two curved LED structures. Changing in hues from blue, to violet, red, and orange—the immersive panels depict a sunset in the Vallée de Joux, best experienced from two sofas that look as if they were carved right from rock.
The geology of the region was a major source of inspiration for the Brooklyn-based artist, known for his sculptural works and furniture objects made from salt and sand. That’s perhaps best seen in the Strata Wall, reminiscent of the layers of limestone of the Combe Noire quarries just outside Le Brassus. In front of the monumental piece, visitors get a chance to see some of Audemars Piguet’s craftspeople at work. The chandelier atop the watchmaker’s desk mimics the limestone stalactites in the Swiss Vallorbe caves.
The lounge celebrates the Manufacture’s new watch collection, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet. “Throughout the booth you’ll see octagonal references,” said the artist recently. In addition to the curve of the LED walls framing the booth, are several tree trunk-like vitrines, featuring a selection of Audemars Piguet timepieces—a nod to the forests of the Vallée de Joux.
This presentation in Miami Beach is special for Mastrangelo. His installation for Audemars Piguet has debuted in Hong Kong last March, before traveling to Basel last June. Before the week kicked off, Mastrangelo was delighted to present his design on “home turf.”
“I’ve presented this now in Hong Kong and in Switzerland, and I’m looking forward to being in the US. I have a large audience here and I’m looking forward to seeing everybody and showing them what we’ve done,” he said.
“I feel like I’m coming home with the piece. We are bringing the team down to Miami,” said Mastrangelo. “So for me, it’s a way to celebrate with my team this accomplishment. It’s our first major installation like this. The fact that we get to share this with collectors, interior designers, and architects—to be able to share with my peers, colleagues, and team, it’s what I’m most looking forward to.”
The Audemars Piguet Lounge can be visited through Sunday, December 8 within the Collectors Lounge of Art Basel in Miami Beach. The watchmaker’s collaboration with Mastrangelo will continue into 2020—we’ll be watching for what’s next.