This year's edition explored urbanization, comfort and 4D design.

Design Miami experienced its highest footfall ever at its 12th edition earlier this month, with over 37,000 collectors and visitors in attendance. This year, architects and designers discussed solutions to challenges arising from urbanization; New York’s food emporium Dean & DeLuca partnered with architect Ole Scheeren on an upscale fast-food concept; and Airbnb brought Mexican flavors to Miami South Beach with the Sobremesa project.


Hygge luxury

As the Danish hygge lifestyle trend sweeps through Europe and North America, Fendi and Italian designer Cristina Celestino debuted “Happy Room,” a traveling VIP lounge that blended modernism with crafted coziness. The mustard and mint-green colors juxtaposed with brass reflect 1950s chic, while velvet and fur offer a comforting touch. “I wanted to create a place where people can feel relaxed and happy,” said Celestino.


A sense of belonging

Airbnb teamed up with Mexico City studio Pedro & Juana for Sobremesa, a space inspired by Mexican courtyards and infused with Mexican flavors, sounds and materials. “Sobremesa” is a Spanish word for the time when friends and family relax and connect after a meal. As visitors walk into the refreshing red space adorned with local outdoor plants, they are greeted by a host who immediately engages them in conversation. Depending on the time of day, guests may be invited to listen to Mexican music, or sample local cuisine.

Sobremesa by Pedro & Juana for Airbnb

Robotics in design

Upon entering the Design Miami fair, visitors come face to face with one of the largest 3D printed installations ever, “Flotsam & Jetsam” by New York-based SHoP Architects. “The 3D-printed structures evoke a relocated landscape that mimics the beach, but also convey Miami’s dynamic emergence as a center for creative visioning and technological discovery,” Rodman Primack, executive director at Design Miami, said in a release.

Flotsam & Jetsam by SHoP Architects

If 2D design refers to images and graphic design, and 3D design encompasses architecture and industrial design, then “AI and robotics is really the fourth dimension of the design practice,” said Yves Béhar, founder of San Francisco design studio Fuseproject. Speaking during Design Miami at a talk called “Design for Survival,” Béhar presented Snoo, a robotic, smart bassinet that launched in October this year following five years of development at Fuseproject. “Whether used for healthcare, youth or the aging population, AI and robotics could be used to solve some of the world issues we have,” he added.

Snoo by Fuseproject

Designers and smart urbanization

Urbanization was a hot topic during Design Miami. Also speaking at “Design for Survival,” Weiping Wu, profession and director of the urban planning program at Colombia Graduate School of Architecture, pointed out that cities around the world contribute 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. In response, Yves Béhar presented Ori, a remote-controlled modular micro-space that aims to maximize urban efficiency, packing a living room, bedroom, and office into just 300 square feet.

This year’s Design Miami explored the impact of designers on a broad range of topics including urbanization, community cohesion, and even happiness. The show on the whole suggested that designers and design thinking could play a key role in solving almost any business challenge.

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All photography by James Harris