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The lowdown on Miami

Design.nl caught up with Sven Ehmann from Berlin-based book publisher Gestalten, to talk Design Miami. 

By Jeanne Tan / 11-12-2008

Sven Ehmann from Gestalten publishers, gives us the insider news from Design Miami.

What was the mood like in general in Miami considering the economic situation?
Everybody was expecting the worst and was happy it went OK. I think the situation now is much more realistic than in the few last years. Back to normal, which still is a good basis for doing business.

What was that situation 'back then' and what is 'back to normal'?
The design/art topic exploded, just as the art world. A lot was sold at high prices with little to no thought/discussion about it. We don't have that anymore, but I consider the current situation being far more real and somehow - in the lack of a better term - sustainable.

Overall Miami highlights for you?
The amount of very interesting people we met at our booth and quality of conversations.

What did you talk about then??
Everything from design, projects, ideas, books, the fair itself, last night's parties, ideas, dreams, coffee, food, feet....and in fact i think i learned something new about each of the subjects mentioned.

Highlights from the Dutch designers?
Rianne Makkink and Jurgen Bey at Contrasts Gallery.

What do YOU think about art/design? Does it have merit or is it about cashing in? Or is it just over-hyped design?
It is/was a trend with all the hype about it and not all pieces presented in the last years will last. But with that trend I think the design/art market established itself as being more relevant as before when it was only a small niche. I very much liked what Jurgen Bey said in our podcast, about this development that the design/art development allowed for him to do design research that otherwise would have been hard/impossible to maintain.

What makes Design Miami different from the other big design events?
Miami is different because of Art Basel, scope, nada, etc all happening at the same time. It's a different crowd, different spirit, more glamour, no doubt. Despite the ongoing crossover between diciplines, conferences and trade shows are often rather limited in their audience. Here you have the wider audience which inspires and opens up the mind towards new (often bigger) ideas. Money and champagne help as well.

Does big money always equate to big design then?
I wouldn't reduce Miami to only big money, even though it is nice that some of the audience can also make projects happen on a large scale. Money can do great things (see Jurgen Bey comment on design/art as research) and it can do boring things.

Why do you think events like Design Miami are important for designers?
It's all about meeting people in real life every once in a while. Events such as Miami and Milano are a must: to see where the market is heading, what is possible, where the mainstream and where the avantgarde is at.

Any gossip from the week??? Best parties/events?
Hardly made it to any parties after a full day at the fair each day! Loved Friends with Yous presentation for the fun of it.

Your predictions for upcoming talent as seen from Design Miami?
One of my current favourites is Kwangho Lee with his wire lamps. Good work. Nice guy.

Main image: Design Miami 2008 Temporary Structure by Aranda\Lasch. Photography: James Harris.
Image: Studio Makkink & Bey, cleaning-beauty-dining-table (stainless steel), 2008, Mirror-finish stainless steel, H68 x W246 x D110 cm. Image courtesy of Contrasts Gallery.
Image: Studio Makkink & Bey, cleaning-beauty-cabinet, 2007, Traditional Chinese boxes, fabric, wood with porcelain broom and dustpan, embroidered gloves and apron, and reverse-glass painted snuff bottles, Cabinet: H156 x W65 x D35 cm. Image courtesy of Contrasts Gallery.
Image: Maarten Baas, Transformation, 2008, Carved camphor wood. Stage 2 Chair - H76 x W130 x D128 cm. Image courtesy of Contrasts Gallery.
Image: Pieke Bergmans, Design Virus, Al Sabah Art & Design collection. Photography: Seth Browarnick / Red Eye Productions.
Image: Studio Job, Bavaria Bench 2008, Moss.
Image: Priveekollektie
Image: VIVID

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