Design Miami and Partners in Design

Design Miami and Partners in Design

By Kim Derby
It’s that time of year again, and we don’t mean mistletoe and merriment. We’re referring to Design Miami, the annual fair that gathers together a global network of influential galleries, curators, designers, collectors, and critics to celebrate collectible design of the past century. And 2012 is bound to be an exceptional event. What makes this year especially noteworthy is the collaboration between Design Miami and the online creative haven of contemporary art, known as The result is an interactive, up-close-and-personal experience of the design fair, available to anyone with an Internet connection.

The partnership marks’s first foray into the world of design collectibles, a significant evolution for the site which launched as a one-stop online platform to discover and learn about contemporary art. It makes sense. Art and design have long existed along side each other, sharing spaces galore, from homes to public parks to museums. And is nothing if not innovative. The partnership expands its already enormous encyclopedia of fine art to include ceramics, furniture, glass, lighting, jewelry, and textiles. 

Armchair, 1953. Ash, black enameled metal, upholstered. By Pierre Guariche.

Sebastian Cwilich,’s President and COO, had this to say when we asked him about the inclusion of design collectibles: "Expanding to design was very natural and in fact quite organic. As you know artists and designers are increasingly working across categories, and many of our existing gallery partners already represented artists whose practice extends to design. Furthermore we're also particularly interested in design given its intrinsic accessibility...for example, not everyone owns original art but everyone own a table or chair, so for all these reasons this extension made a lot of sense."

Nature/Nurture (After Otto Herbert Hajek), 2012. Walnut treated with brie wax. By RO/LU. For Sale $3,800.

All thirty-six of Design Miami’s exhibitors are represented on, with bios and booth numbers to guide you, if you happen to be in Miami on site. You’ll find images of over 400 collectible artifacts on display, created by more than 150 industrial designers. For example, visit RO/LU’s Nature/Nurture, represented by Mondo Cane gallery, and an array of information and options appear at your fingertips. Learn more about the artist, "follow" the artist, see more works by the artist, explore related works at Design Miami, or purchase Nature/Nurture for $3,800. calls it "acquiring", another innovation launched during this year’s design fair. Anyone with cash or a credit card can now purchase specified design objects directly from’s site. "Inquire", to send your information to an specialist who will be in touch with you to discuss availability, price and connect you with the relevant gallery. Or "acquire" to enter your credit card information—a veritable Amazon for art & design aficionados.

Necklace ‘Stipjes’, 2005-2012. Lavender wood, paint, silver. By Terhi Tolvanen. For Sale $4,725.

We asked Cwilich about the partnership and its relevance in today’s design community on the web: "To my knowledge this is the first major design fair to partner with an online platform, so it's novel and relevant from that perspective. The enthusiasm and support of the exhibitors, with 100% participation, really shows that the leading design galleries are embracing the web as a way to reach collectors who are increasingly geographically dispersed. Finally I think that given Design Miami's close ties to Art Basel, the partnership with, which has been primarily focused on fine art, is a very natural extension of Design Miami's longstanding approach."

Early "Kangaroo" Chair, 1962. Walnut and leather. By Wendell Castle.

One of the great things about is its user-friendliness. You don’t have to be an expert in art history or collecting to make your way around and enjoy all that the site has to offer. Browse by style or movement, subject matter, medium or technique, or region. is more than fluff and pretty pictures. Powered by the Art Genome Project, which analyzes art (and now design) based on various "genes" (subject, historical movement, materials), the exploring is intelligent and orchestrated behind the scenes by the experts. One click embarks you on an unknown adventure and the education is endless.

Bent Wood Table, 2012. Printed birch wood and colored glass. By WrongWoods. For Sale $7,500 - $10,000.

Cwilich says: "It's really exciting to expand the Art Genome Project to collectible design through the addition of 75+ design-related genes, giving visitors the ability to explore the fair works using’s genome search technology."

Modern Cuff, 1948. Brass, copper. By Art Smith.

Another of’s innovations, and our personal favorite, is Posts, curated gems of insight and information, news and interesting observations, straight from the experts on site in Miami. It’s a great spot to start exploring the fair. 

Low Organic Chair, 2012. Foam sphered around wood structure. By Maarten de Ceulaer.

"We're particularly happy that 100% of the exhibitors have chosen to participate—and not just with one or two works but with a substantive portion of their booth; you can really get a good sense for what will be at the fair before you arrive. I'm also really excited about Posts, which will provide visitors with access to content and commentary live from the Design Miami fair written by leading designers, curators, and collector," says Cwilich.

Of course, nothing beckons to be as stimulating as being there in person, but’s Design Miami is enlightening and addicting. So if you can’t make it to Miami, and even if you can, peruse through’s impressive Design Miami spread. Glance through the variety of  "Works" and narrow your interests by category or size, pieces for sale, or take one of’s "suggested filters" and see where you land. It’s the next best thing to being there. 

Surface Tension Lamp, 2012. Metal, soap and LED. By Front Design. For Sale $10,400.

Coffee Table, 2012. Bisazza tiles. By Pierre Charpin.


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