The court of design collecting

In dialogue with Maria Cristina Didero, the new global curator of Design Miami/ 2022

Maria Cristina Didero - Photo © Stefan Giftthaler
Maria Cristina Didero - Photo © Stefan Giftthaler

The new face of the kermesse dedicated to collectible design tells IFDM about her multidisciplinary approach and her vision of creative culture. In a dimension that marks the extent to which the power of design can truly transform the world, in the sign of a contemporary Golden Age.

Maria Cristina Didero, this year Design Miami/ invited you as the global curator of the Basel and Miami exhibitions, as well as the new destination of Paris. How did your collaboration start?
I have worked with a number of galleries participating in Design Miami/ throughout the years, where I curated exhibitions with commissions by different designers, among them the projects for Fendi by Cristina Celestino, Chiara Andreatti and Sabine Marcelis. Over the years, I have built a personal appreciation and connection to the fair’s forward-thinking ethos, and strong understanding of its ever-growing international audience.

Podium at Design Miami/Basel - Photo © James Harris
Podium at Design Miami/Basel – Photo © James Harris

Will there be any changes?
I am not looking to introduce any drastic changes, but rather I am taking a collaborative approach. While the legacy of previous curatorial directors is a strong one and made the fair what it is today, I will be also looking at newer designs and considerations, in order to demonstrate the power of design to make change. My contribution comes through my multidisciplinary approach to design. I feel this is aligned with Design Miami/’s standing as a prestigious place of exchange, creativity, education and innovation and most of all culture.

Podium at Design Miami/Basel - Photo © James Harris
Podium at Design Miami/Basel – Photo © James Harris

What themes do the three editions focus on and how will they be told?
The overarching theme for Design Miami/ this year is The Golden Age. This theme is an open invite to collectively reflect on the era through which we are all living. It has long been said that periods of crisis are followed by moments of great revival, because necessity and urgency are catalysts for progress. This outlook had a strong influence when it came to choosing the theme, as we wanted to create a conversation intended to spark hope in innovation, arts, design and technology. And optimism most of all. The Golden Age is a concept shared across all cultures, and expands across time and space – be it applied to utopian futures or idealized histories.

Quartz Table by Juan & Paloma Garrido at Podium at Design Miami/Basel - Photo © James Harris
Quartz Table by Juan & Paloma Garrido at Podium at Design Miami/Basel – Photo © James Harris

The Podium exhibition opens for the first time in Basel. Who are the designers who will represent The Golden Age theme?
This year marks the inaugural Podium exhibition at Design Miami/ Basel. It will be a curated selling exhibition, made up of museum-quality works, which I have selected in line with this year’s overarching curatorial theme. Podium will feature an exceptional array of historical and contemporary designs, including How High is the Moon by Shiro Kuramata. Presented by Friedman Benda Gallery, this two-seat armchair reinterprets the traditional upholstered sofa. With a fragile appearance, but a sturdy stance, How High is the Moon challenges the notion of traditional furniture typologies.

Libreria Tunisie by Charlotte Perriand - Photo © Marc Domage
Libreria Tunisie by Charlotte Perriand – Photo © Marc Domage

Galerie Scène Ouverte will present Dutch Maarten Vrolijk’s Sakura TRP – a poetic series of vases that push the boundaries of traditional glass blowing. Podium will also show a collection of mystical precious jewellery by Daniel Kruger, presented by Galleria Antonella Villanova. These contemporary artifacts are beautiful treasures from the present. Finally, Carlo Mollino’s exceptional bunk beds from 1955, presented by Galleria Rossella Colombari, welcomes visitors to contemplate functional beauty. As the thematic is open to different kinds of interpretations, this exhibition was born from a collective work; in fact my team and I worked together with the gallerists, it was interesting and full of surprises. Design Miami/’s community offered the chance to purchase these incredible pieces – both in-person and online.

What are the main novelties of the Miami edition?
In Miami, in December, we will look at nature and harmony as much as possible. We are working on it!

Stepping on Ukrainian soil by Victoria Yakusha at FAINA - Photo © courtesy of FAINA.jpg
Stepping on Ukrainian soil by Victoria Yakusha at FAINA – Photo © courtesy of FAINA.jpg

Among the new talents of art design, who are the names you have chosen for the Curio section?
There will be 18 presentations at this year’s Curio, each of which bring their own unique designs and interpretations of traditional ideas from across the world. Some highlights include FAINA – Antwerp-based gallery for modern Ukrainian design, founded by designer Victoria Yakusha. Her mission is to retell her homeland’s cultural heritage. For this presentation Yakusha has created a handwoven 2.5 metre tapestry titled Zemlia, which is Ukrainian for ‘earth’. I would like to underline that this very project has been selected before the notorious terrible facts started. Meanwhile, Marie Piselli will present 5 new sculptures alongside a jewellery collection of limited-edition pieces. Their forms take inspiration from objects that offer metaphorical solutions to the challenges currently facing mankind. Chisels are tools used to break things down; here they are symbolic of the desire to break down society’s encysted codes. These symbolic pieces are designed to be at once delicate and solid, ultimately conveying hope in human nature. Paul Bourdet Fine Furniture will present a collection of pieces by Philippe Starck, each of which have been inspired by the forest and designed between 1989 and 1995. It is great to see these pieces, seemingly so different in appearance and meaning, connected under the same theme.

Superblue Pulse Topology at Design Miami/Basel - Photo © World Red Eye
Superblue Pulse Topology at Design Miami/Basel – Photo © World Red Eye

Design Miami/ will premiere in Paris next October. Can you give us some anticipation of this new and exciting adventure?
This new Paris fair is very exciting, offering new opportunities for Design Miami/’s growing international audience. With Paris being home to so many incredible galleries, and being a global hub of creativity, I look forward to seeing how this historical cultural capital will continue to inspire us.

Design Miami/
Basel: 14-19 June 2022
Miami: 30 November-4 December 2022