Inspiration from Art Basel, Miami Beach

A recap of what translated well into store design, pop-ups and visual merchandising inspiration
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Posted February 20, 2019

Between the plethora of art shows, exhibits and pop-up events around Art Basel’s Miami Beach show, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the visual stimuli that takes over the city during Art Week. There were some distinct pre-prevailing themes that dominated this year, such as feminism and socio-political subjects translated with subversion, taking on pretty much everything and everyone. I tried my best not to get distracted by the madness and found that the greatest visual pleasures were off the beaten path.

Here were some of the most exciting trends…

Immersive spaces: Several galleries and pop-up spaces created immersive, floor-to-ceiling installations using a combination of either a one-color saturation, or repetition with a texture or a defined spatial composition. Examples included the stunning “Breakfast Corner,” by DOH HO SUH, made in translucent pink polyester and stainless steel, with a structure open on both ends, inviting you to explore while manipulating the scale and malleability of the space. The work highlights the important connections we make between physical places and memory with the use of context and color.

Nostalgia: Pulling references from a variety of eras was on many artists’ agendas. In “Nothing Can Dim the Light that Shines from Within,” Genevieve Gaignard has created her own little cozy domestic multi-era nook, while Harry Nuriev’s, Crosby Studio’s founder, “The Office,” created a satirical depiction of oppressive office culture, with an elevated luxe aesthetic, subverting a typical mundane and retro office into humorous and stunning piece of furniture.

Interactive: In an effort to engage onlookers and invite them into their world, multiple artists used clever kinetic, and analog, sensorial installations and objects in a variety of different ways. You’ll want to climb Ghost’s Frequency’s the giant rainbow bridge that offers a breathtaking bird’s eye view of Miami’s art district with a 360-degree photo booth, or spin an odd wheel of fortune by Kathryn Andrews that displays empowering, funny or vague messages with every spin, or play on Derrick Adams’s “America’s Playground,” that payed homage to the history of Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, nearly destroyed by highway construction in the 1960s. “For people of color, leisure is a radical place to be,” Adams told the audience at a talk during Art Basel. “It’s forbidden; something for others.” The playground under the highway was an example of environmental injustice, representing the second-class status of black families in America during that era, but in Adams’ hand, it’s also a symbol of resistance.

Samar Younes is Founder and Executive Creative Director at Samaritual, a multidisciplinary design studio and consultancy based in New York. Reach her @samaritual or via info@samaryounes.com.