Modernism & What Comes Next at Design Miami/Basel

Modernism & What Comes Next at Design Miami/Basel

Sarah Coffey
Jun 16, 2011

Unlike bigger, more furniture-focused fairs like Salone in Milan or Maison in Paris, the current Design Miami/Basel exhibition in Switzerland is firmly grounded in what the fair's director Marianne Goebl calls "collectible design." That phrase is a clue to the exhibition's curatorial slant. The fair places works by Hella Jongerius and Asif Khan within the context of their forerunners — people like Nana Ditzel and Alvar Aalto.

To follow the thread, start with early French furniture (on view at the Galerie Perrin booth). Their Steel Day Bed dates back to the 1800s and shows the Napoleonic shift from elaborate pieces towards strong, practical furniture with a relatively simple frame.

Fast forward to 1927, and you'll find a more recent take on metal frame furniture at Galerie Ulrich Fielder's booth. A pair of blue metal chairs, created by Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld, are stripped down to their architectural essence — the frame consists of two pieces of continuous bent metal, while the seat conforms to the chair's straightforward shape.

Mid-Century Modernism is on view at Demisch Danant's Booth, styled as a 1960s home and furnished with pieces by French designer Joseph-André Motte. You can also find Mid-C style at Nilufar's booth, where a Mad-Men-era sofa set by Italian designer Franco Albini combines high backs and angular frames.

The fair largely skips the Post-Modernism of the 80s and 90s. Rather, it picks up where Modernism left off, focusing instead on contemporary designers who are strongly influenced by their early and mid-20th Century predecessors.

For example, on view at London gallery Spring Projects is a Studio Makkink & Bey VacuumCleanerCrate that references Alvar Aalto's famous 1937 Tea Trolley. And Hella Jongerius' gorgeous Daylight Table — crafted from a wood base and multi-colored resin top — has the same type of studied approach to color as Anni Albers' woven textiles or Josef Albers' color field paintings.

In dialog with one another, these pieces start to tell the story of furniture and industrial design from the 19th century up to the present moment.


  1. Demisch Danant's Booth, styled as a 1960s home with Joseph-André Motte furniture
  2. Steel Day Bed (circa 1800) at Galerie Perrin
  3. Polished Steel Armchair (early 19th Century) at Galerie Perrin
  4. Beugel Chairs (1927) by Gerrit Rietveld at Galerie Ulrich Fielder
  5. Sofa Set designed by Franco Albini (circa 1946) at Nilufar
  6. Paavo Tynell Chandeliers (1940) at Hostler Burrows
  7. Tapio Wirkkala Table (Mid-20th Century) at Jacksons
  8. Hella Jongerius' Daylight Table (2011) for HSBC Private Bank's Connection Collection
  9. VacuumCleanerCrate (2010) designed by Studio Makkink & Bey at Spring Projects
  10. Beta Tank's b-Side Table (2011) at Dilmos

RELATED: Inside Scoop: What's Hot at Design Miami/Basel 2011

Images: Courtesy of Design Miami/Basel Blog

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