When The Standard Spa, Miami Beach opened eleven years ago, Miami looked very different from the city it is today. South Beach was the heartbeat of Miami’s culture, with its eccentric mix of art deco architecture, scantily dressed beach goers, glitzy night life, and loud music pumping through the night. Since then, the city has gone through a radical cultural evolution and has become one of the most significant design and art hubs in the world, and The Design District is at the center of this nucleus of change. Located on the other side of the bridges leading to South Beach, this neighborhood holds some of the city’s greatest design showrooms, galleries, museums, shops, restaurants, and cafés. We explored every corner of the bourgeoning area to narrow down our favorite spots.
This multifaceted organization defies the constraints of the classic gallery construct. Primary Projects offers a platform for edgy, artistic expression from both established and up-and-coming creatives within and outside gallery walls. A refreshing break from the commercialization of galleries, their, at times, controversial and gritty street aesthetics challenge our current conceptions of contemporary art by fostering group and solo projects that fluctuate from the forbidden to the sublime.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
As one of the Design District’s main art institutions, ICA Miami dedicates itself to continued experimentation in contemporary art. What exactly makes the ICA so singular? It provides a unique, international platform for emerging local and under-recognized artists within an ever-changing exhibition and program calendar that seeks to reflect the cultural and artistic landscape of both local and international creatives. Oh, and it’s free. December 1, 2017 marks the launch of ICA Miami’s new, permanent home featuring 20,000 square feet of multifaceted exhibition space and a 15,000 square foot sculpture garden.
De la Cruz Collection
Miami’s de la Cruz Collection is the result of billionaire art lovers opening their private collection to the world and transforming it into one of Miami’s most impressive art institutes. Cuban collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz are among the patrons seeking to make Miami an intellectual art capital. Their 30,000-square-foot contemporary art space acts as an extension of their home, housing their vast collection of sculptures, paintings, and installations by the most sought after artists of today. Their nurturing, artistic vision gives way to a flux of exhibitions that turn the cultural lens on itself; alongside artist-led workshops, forums, and lectures that bring awareness to the vast interpretations of the visual arts. Like the ICA, it’s free to the public.
Imagine art freed from the constraints of sales and gallery fees, where artists can fully experiment and express themselves outside the limitations of conventional exhibition spaces. Locust Projects makes this dream a reality for artists. Once finding its roots in a converted warehouse space, they have evolved into one of Miami’s top art institutions with the backing of the Andy Warhol Foundation. Local and international artists are invited to create ambitious site-specific projects and installations as an extension of their personal work.
This alternative, artist-run creative space and venue is Miami’s un-gallery, and was founded when artist and sculptor Oliver Sanchez welcomed artists into his unused studio space. In response to the need for community-based art spaces, Swampspace puts forth innovative visual and performance arts to create unique experiences that walk the line between sophistication and raw, unraveled ingenuity. It is certain to quench the palates of thirsting art enthusiasts from all perspectives and backgrounds.
Buckminster Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome, 1978-2014
The creation of this interactive sculpture, dubbed the “autonomous dwelling machine” by its original creator, spans decades. American architect and designer Buckminster Fuller patented the design in the ’60s and died before it was ever finished. Over 50 years later, Fuller’s vision was realized. The 24-foot prototype, considered a forerunner for today’s green architecture movement, sits at the center of the Design District as a focal point of inspiration.
Konstantin Grcic’s Netscape, 2010/2014
German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic’s interactive installation makes you feel suspended from a metal cobweb entangled in tropical vines. His innovative design invites you into a moment of calm away from the overwhelming density of the Design District. Relax, sit back, and gently swing in Grcic’s hammock-like wire seats delicately suspended from a six-point metal structure. Just a warning: It might be hard to get up again
Xavier Veilhan’s Le Corbusier, 2013
This is where you go to get your dose of Corbusier loving surrealism. The endless complexity of the artist’s personal life, ripe with passion and controversy, has been encapsulated in a larger-than-life “bust” executed by French artist Xavier Veilhan. He challenges the balance between simplicity and scale, depicting the iconic Corbusier with pen in hand, representing the act of drawing as the perfect bridge between the prolific artist’s multifaceted passions of architecture, drawing, writing, and design.
Zaha Hadid’s Elastika, 2005
The Elastika installation was commissioned after the late architect, Zaha Hadid, was given the first ever “Designer of the Year” award. As a representation of Hadid’s endless contribution to the realm of design, her web-like installation stretches across the atrium of the multi-storied Moore building. Hadid’s signature organically flowing aesthetics offers a beautiful contrast with the building’s art deco roots. It is the ultimate extrusion of the complex, spacial concepts like connectivity and fluidity that are so inherent within her architectural creations.