December 16th, 2009
Fendi at The F Factory, Miami
While Fendi’s performance at Design Miami involved laser-studded electric guitars, more popular still was the label’s pop-up space that was part of Limited Edition Experiences, a block down the road at the heart of the design district.
Alongside Neon Monster, Maison Martin Margiela, Christopher Ross and Stubbs & Wooton, among others, Fendi set up shop at the F Factory, a multibrand environment situated in the old Moore Building, and now open until Christmas.
All presenting one-off or limited edition merchandise, the F Factory is the place to go for a purse to match that art purchase down the road.
It was here, alongside its solid gold and handstitched patchwork totes, that Fendi is debuting its limited edition design ‘Needle Point Stitch Kit’ – effectively a stitch-it-yourself canvas baguette. We’ve never been so nimble with a thimble as now.
Also as part of the Limited Edition Experiences initiative, Marni is offering a Marni for Miami bag in its local store, and Gucci is staging the second instalment of Gucci Icon-Temporary – the Mark Ronson sneaker collaboration previously seen only in New York.
Bags and shoes are a fine art in Miami Beach.
March 1st, 2009
by Nick Vinson
With a new shop in Miami Design District, Tomas Maier is warming up.
Florida-based designer, is best known as creative director of Bottega Veneta, a brand he has pushed into fashion's first rank. But he has also been quietly building up his eponymous line in a manner as understated as his designs. According to Maier, there was no big idea, no plan and certainly no rush, but with a new 6,000-sq-ft store just opened in Miami's vibrant Design District (replacing his 2003 Miami Beach store), another opened in 2007 in Palm Beach, and a third slated for completion in the Hamptons in Easter, the pace may be moving up a notch.
His new store, opened during Design Miami in December, is significant not only to Maier. For Craig Robins of Dacra, the developer behind the Design District, Maier is a major coup. Robins has a master plan to inject edgy and creative fashion into the existing mix of design galleries, furniture showrooms and eateries in the neighbourhood. Marni just opened its third US store nearby, joining recent arrival Y-3. When approached by Robins, Maier was ready to leave Miami Beach, hot on the heels of chefs Ken Lyon and Michael Schwartz, both of whom moved their Miami Beach restaurants to the District. 'It just got so gross there,' Maier says. 'Everyone was moving here.'
Maier founded his own line in 1997 with partner Andrew Preston. His concept is leisure and time off- think silk and cashmere knitwear, easy dresses, polo-shirts, and track pants and zip jackets. There is a refreshing absence of logos (try finding that anywhere else) and a welcome continuity to the collection. His oat-coloured, two-ply cashmere sweater has 'always been in the collection', the V-neck collar and inverted shoulder seam exuding the kind of easy, casual chic he does so well. He always has staple colours in the knits (blazer blue, black, oat and three greys) and long-life dresses - free of ornamentation, buttons and zips. Although his line is sold in more than 100 stores in 30 countries, some merchandise will now be made specifically for each store, to 'keep things special'. If you go to Miami, you'll find items specific to the location and 'climate', and he doesn't just mean the weather.
The new store, a converted pineapple farmhouse, was designed by Maier and the furniture comes from his old store or bric-a-brac shops in West Palm beach. The delightfully original mix of fixtures and fittings includes original prints by Slim Aarons, a Julian Opie lithograph, Woman Undressing, and Harry Benson's photo of Dolly Parton. Maier designed some of the furniture himself (he also does a fine job of that for Bottega Veneta's home collection), including the cash and wrap desk, and he plans to design more.
In addition, Maier curates a mix of merchandise, such as porcelain from KPM (with whom he collaborates at Bottega Veneta), Meissen, Royal Copenhagen and Heath Ceramics, as well as shell objects from Paris-based designer Thomas Boog, mohair blankets from Finland, and Sardinian pillows and towels from 'little artisanal places and people you have to climb behind the mountains to find'. He says it's good to promote all these hard-to-find products, or they might disappear. On the fashion side, there are Minnetonka moose-skin moccasins along with suede Birkenstocks, Persol sunglasses, Lola hats and Tom Binns jewellery.
Then there are books, one of Maier's passions. When not in Milan or New York for Bottega, he can be found early in the morning arranging new books on the shelves and down the steps. Hard-to-find, out-of-print or just not carried by anyone anymore, the books include titles on photography by Joel Sternfeld, Massimo Vitali and Stephen Shore, as well as volumes on architecture from Palm Beach architects Maurice Fatio and John Volk. There's also an entire back catalogue of projects from Candela and Carpenter, from a publishing house in New York that specialises in 20th-century American architects. 'They always have floor plans, for architecture freaks,' says Maier.
On the first floor, Maier has a large gallery space. The first show was the suitably titled 'Leisure' by young French photographer Karine Laval - shots taken in swimming pools and beaches in Cuba and France. Maier is open-minded about this space - it may be a pop-up store for a month, or lent to a furniture designer.
Next for Maier and Preston is a trip down Montauk Highway, tape measure in hand, to plan the new store, housed in a 'really cute old diner in the woods'. When that opens in Easter, Maier will have the East Coast just about covered.
May 1st, 2007
by Nick Compton
CRAIG ROBINS, MIAMI
Like the LA art collector Eli Broad, Robins has a conviction that his collection, and broader activities on the cultural front, benefit his city. In Robins' case, that city is Miami, which, over the last five years, has established itself as a surprising loci of the contemporary art world. Robins has had no small part to play in that.
He is the curatorial sort of collector; not for him speculation. "I'm not much of a seller," he says. "There have been times when I have sold things to buy a better example or I've lost interest. But generally, I try to find artists that I want to collect in depth."
A Miami native, Robins began collecting while at university in Barcelona. When his parents offered to buy him a gold watch as a graduation present, he told them he would much rather have a painting. In 1987, after graduating from Miami Law School, he set up property company Dacra. With business success came the opportunity for a deeper commitment to art collecting.
"As I had more resources, I collected more aggressively," he says. "My first meaningful purchase was in 1990, when I bought a John Baldessari piece from the 1960s." Robins also has serious hauls of Kai Althoff, Cosima von Bonin, Mike Kelley, Martin Kippenberger, Paul McCarthy, Joseph Beuys and Richard Tuttle.
Part of his collection is housed in the new Dacra offices in the Design District, an area pretty much hustled into being by Robins. The building was designed by Terry Riley as part office space, part gallery. Robins brought in German collector and curator Karola Grasslin to make a judicious selection from the collection in time for the opening. She jumped at the chance. "There are few notable private collections that provide an exemplary reflection of the collector's direct contact with the artists and their artworks. Craig Robins is one of those collectors," she says.
However, Robins is quick to refute the suggestion that the collector can have a significant effect on the ebb and flow of
financial and critical favour for an artist. "I think it's very dangerous for a collector to hold themselves up as a tastemaker. And you have to cancel out the background chatter and not collect with your ears."
Robin now views his collection less as an investment fund, more as a civic bequest waiting to happen. "My dream would be to have major collectors in Miami join together and donate our collections, or a major part of our collections, to local institutions," he says. "There is so much great art in Miami. That would make a statement that would be admired internationally."
Not that persuading others to be so publicly minded is easy. "It's complicated, because these are very valuable assets and different people have different ideas about community," Robins observes wryly. "But hopefully that can be sorted out over time."
September 1st, 2006
But is it Art?
The worldâ€™s smartest galleries canâ€™t get enough of it, auctioneers are asking huge sums for it, and at this yearâ€™s Art Basel it got its very own show â€” design is certainly the new collectible,and perhaps much more.
But itâ€™s art,â€™ shouted the tanned, well-dressed American gentleman. And then he shouted it again. He was a charmless sort, confident we all needed to hear his opinion, but he had a point. He was directing his argument at a large, stainless-steel, low-lying hammock. Behind it was what looked like a domestic-scaled Richard Serra sculpture. And nearby was an odd, swollen bronze cradle and a tall, carved piece of wood that served no clear purpose, but which looked very lovely nonetheless. It was an extraordinary room set. But was it all art?
If this wasnâ€™t art, then what were such things doing here, looking like they did, presented as they were, in Basel during Art Basel, the worldâ€™s biggest art show?
The strange metal chaise longue item, known as â€˜Sailawayâ€™ and designed by Forrest Myers in 1990, the cradle, designed by Philippe Hiquily in 1986, and the tall carving, by FranÃ§ois Stahly, had all been hauled from New York by Hugues and April Magen, a handsome couple, of the Magen H Gallery in the East Village. The Magen H Gallery is a design gallery, just one of the 17 invited to be a part of the show called Design Miami/Basel. So thatâ€™s design, not art.
Hugues Magen is the first to admit that terms everyone thought they understood are suddenly in dispute. â€˜There is this conversation about art and design meeting â€” form, function, art, design; all those ideas are up for grabs at the moment.â€™ (And you canâ€™t really apply the â€˜decorative artâ€™ tag either.
You would not really call much on display in Basel â€˜decorativeâ€™; it is much more and much less than that.) Design Miami/Basel is an offshoot of Design Miami, a show launched at last winterâ€™s Art Basel Miami Beach (itself an offshoot of Art Basel). It was created to allow the worldâ€™s leading design galleries, mostly from New York and Paris, to meet, greet and accept cheques from the rich vein of contemporary art collectors who are learning to love design both as object and investment. Take, for example, the twin powers of the luxury goods world, FranÃ§ois Pinault of PPR and Bernard Arnault of LVMH, serious art collectors who have both invested heavily in 20th-century design recently. They are not the only ones. At the inaugural Design Miami, the Magens sold at 1962 Pierre SzÃ©kely screen to fashion designer Donna Karan for around $350,000.
Design Miami/Basel is directed by Ambra Medda, a 25-year-old curator, and backed by her partner, the Miami property developer and design enthusiast Craig Robins (the man behind the development of the cityâ€™s Design District). Medda, one of those super-bright young beauties who ends up doing things like this, says the show answers a growing demand from collectors and galleries. â€˜Everyone was waiting for this kind of thing. And they definitely wanted something attached to a major art fair.â€™
Sam Keller, the now-outgoing director of Art Basel, was also keen that a version of Design Miami come to Basel. And quickly. He obviously thought it was just the kind of sideshow that would help pull in visitors to the art fair, though itâ€™s clear that a number of the galleries in attendance are starting to feel they deserve to be thought of as much more than a mere sideshow.