November 1st, 2008
by Nejla Turner
Inspired by the galvanizing effect of Art Basel Miami Beach, the founders of Design Miami/ set out to create a design fair unlike any other that came before. In 2005, Ambra Medda and Amy Lau saw the opportunity to create a nexus for the far-flung global community of cutting-edge design dealers, collectors, creatives, curators and critics. They envisioned a new commercial and cultural forum that would capture the thriving general interest in design and elevate appreciation for limited-edition, experimental and significant design work, presented within an energetic environment.
Support from the Bests
Initially naming their project Design.05, Medda and Lau secured vital support from Craig Robins, a prominent Miami developer and art collector, and Sam Keller, esteemed Director of Art Basel. Together this team attracted the participation of the world’s preeminent design galleries, including Barry Friedman Ltd, Galerie Kreo, and Galerie Patrick Seguin. These gallerists deal in the most significant works on the market and their collaboration ensured the high caliber of the show.
Design.05 premiered in the Miami Design District in December 2005 and was proclaimed and instant success. Immediately following the first show, the founders were urged by collectors and dealers alike to take the show to Switzerland for the next Art Basel. Changing the company’s name to suit the new plan for biannual events, Medda successfully launched Design Miami/Basel in June 2006. Medda continues to direct the company, and Design Miami/ and Design Miami/ Basel are now permanently established to run parallel to Art Basel: Miami Beach in Miami, Florida in December and Basel, Switzerland in June.
From its inception, Design Miami was intended to be more than just a marketplace for high-end design, and to this end, Medda has put together a small but talented team to help her create the most vital design shows in the world. The company’s objective is to balance highly professional business activity with progressive cultural programming, and the team works to create exciting collaborations with designers and design institutions, to draw in the foremost design collectors and enthusiasts, and to construct the most provocative design showcase anyone has ever seen.
It was our first time as the Luxury magazine at Design Miami/Basel. The show was sheer joy and the 21 galleries exceeded expectations in the chosen pieces and design booths. Running alongside this was the installation by the designers of the Future – and this included Martino Gamper, Max Lamb, Julia Lohmann, and Clemens Weisshaar & Reed Kram. A high point of the week was an unscheduled visit by Brad Pitt – who brought Jeroen Verhoeven’s Cinderella Table and Atelier Van Lieshout’s Family Lamp from The Carpenter’s Workshop. And HSBC Private Bank, the title sponsor, invited guests to make “connections in their exclusive VIP Lounge designed by Atelier Oi. Finally, the Designer of the Future dinner was magical – with a table that ran the full length of the hall lit by a subtle blue light and enhanced by a trail of candles.