Is Design Miami/Basel moving into the bedroom? Beds feature like never before at the fair’s 17th edition, across 26 galleries. Seeing these intimate domestic spaces displayed in the moody lighting of the fair gives Design Miami/Basel an otherworldly feel.
Aptly enough, many of the rarest items on show owe a debt to the great dreamers of 20th-century art, the Surrealists. Galerie Mitterrand has François-Xavier Lalanne’s friendly donkey; Friedman Benda is exhibiting a chair dreamed up by artificial intelligence; and Galerie Gastou is offering the chance to tuck yourself into Max Ernst’s Cage-Bed. Here, we take you on a tour of six dreamworthy design displays at the fair.
L’Âne Planté (1990) by François-Xavier Lalanne
Little donkey, little donkey, why do you cost so much? A collector might be tempted to emit a mournful bray when they learn the price of François-Xavier Lalanne’s sculpture: between €5m and €6m. As a student at the Académie Julian in Paris in the 1940s, Lalanne met the Surrealists Man Ray, Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp. He and his wife, Claude Lalanne, later began making furniture together as Les Lalanne. Versed in the space-age monochrome Modernism of the era, they incorporated the influence of their Surrealist friends, creating functional yet fantastical design pieces. This donkey sculpture has saddlebags that double as planters, currently potted with daisies.
Interiors (1936) from Villa nel Bosco ad Arcisate by Paolo Buffa
Everything in Morentz Gallery’s stand at Design Miami/Basel originates from a country house nestled in the woods of Arcisate, near Lake Como. The building and all its interiors were designed in 1936 by the Milanese architect and designer Paolo Buffa for his daughter. Lamps, beds, storage units and night stands were all designed to complement each other. Buffa favoured rarefied materials, as in the carved horse chestnut wooden shelves and undulating inlays.
Bolibana (2022) by Hamed Ouattara
Lausanne-based gallery Foreign Agent was founded by the Swiss Chinese businessman Olivier Chow, a former employee of the Red Cross. The gallery focuses on emerging and mid-career contemporary designers from Africa. Here, it is showing a series called Bolibana by Hamed Ouattara, a furniture designer who runs a studio of apprentices in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Ouattara’s designs are works of creative salvage, such as these consoles upcycled from colourful oil barrels discarded on the side of the road. Jimena Sougri, a green console, is on sale for SFr30,000 ($33,500).
Cage-Bed (1974) by Max Ernst
Did Max Ernst sleep soundly? One lucky buyer could find out. The Parisian Galerie Gastou has brought Cage-Bed by the German Dadaist and Surrealist, made two years before his death in 1976. A hallucinatory disc hovers above the headrest and creeping ivy clings to the surrounding cage, while dancing spirits are sewn into the eiderdown. Is the cage designed to keep the demons at bay, or trap them within? Only one way to find out.
Ron Arad, Charlotte Perriand and José Zanine Caldas
Galerie Downtown François Laffanour
Galerie Downtown François Laffanour in Paris has long been a mainstay of high-end 20th-century French design. The gallery returns to Design Miami/Basel with another series of rare classic pieces by the likes of Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret. This time, they are paired with contemporary works by international designers such as Ron Arad, Choi Byung Hoon and Ettore Sottsass. The stand was awarded best gallery presentation at the fair, co-judged by the architect Lee Mindel, who describes the curation as “imaginative, thorough and elegant”.
Bone Chair (2006) by Joris Laarman
Friedman Benda has a group show of works from the senior scenesters of ultra-contemporary design, including Daniel Arsham and KAWS. But the stand is most notable for this seemingly unremarkable aluminium chair by the Dutch designer Joris Laarman. Gallery co-founder Marc Benda says Basel is a place to “take risks” with “the unending possibilities of design”, and Laarman’s utilitarian Bone Chair is one such example. This prototype is one of the first pieces of furniture to be made via artificial intelligence: its influence on digital design has earned it the fair’s prize for best contemporary work.