June 2016

Design Miami returned to Basel, Switzerland this June to exhibit one of the most eclectic and expansive collections of art in the contemporary market. 

The show is a powerful commentary on a variety of themes affecting the globe, spanning galleries, curios, large-scale installations, talks and collaborations. The ‘Gallery’ sector alone showcased work by 4,000 artists in 287 galleries, representing 33 countries. We gravitated towards the concept of landscape and environment illustrated in a variety of installation works, in addition to the metaphorical landscape of the art market itself. Art Basel finds itself in a precarious environment, riddled by an unstable economy and an uncertain future after yesterday’s referendum.

Financial fear about the market did not hinder the scale of installation works at the festival however. Owan by Kengo Kuma blends technological innovation with nature in a seamless, effortless manner. The Japanese architect draws inspiration from the country’s history: Japanese bowls, fish scales, and reimagines these elements into contemporary forms. The pavilion is built from a malleable metal called “memory alloy” that bends into new forms when heated.

A carbon fibre version of the late, great Zaha Hadid’s Kuki chair celebrates the imaginative design of the late architect. Other works by the designer such as marble tables from the Mercuric collection and the Liquid Glacial chairs, tables and stools continue to inspire with their fluid aesthetic.

In contrast to the complex forms of Kuma’s work, The Stone Tea House Meditative Alcove achieves tranquillity with minimalism. Masatoshi Izumi & Koichi Hara created the eighteen tonne house by carving out the inside of a block of stone. What remains is a shell, providing a protective and powerful force for those that sit inside. While sitting in the Tea House, the viewer is presented with other interior landscapes constructed with stone such as a tsukubai, a water basin that mysteriously disappears within a crack. The works demonstrate a rhythm and harmony with nature, leaving us to wonder how the future of the global economy will shake up our environment.

Kengo Kuma’s Owan
The carbon fibre version of Zaha Hadid’s Kuki chair
Zaha Hadid’s Mercuric Collection and Liquid Glacial Collection
Masatoshi Izumi and Koichi Hara’s Stone Tea House Meditative Alcove
Enea Landscape Architecture Presents In a Silent Space the Landscape is the Sound
All Photography © James Harris