Studio Acconci, the architecture and design firm run by 72-year-old New York designer and artist Vito Acconci, was named last night as Design Miami's Designer of the Year for its 2012 edition coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach in December.
With the award comes a specially commissioned project -- this year, a playground structure to be erected permanently in the Design District. And judging from Acconci's past works, it won't be your average swingset. This is, after all, a man whose first major attention-getting project featured him masturbating in public.
The 1971 work, Seedbed, involved Acconci laying beneath a ramp at Sonnabend Gallery in Soho and vocalizing his fantasies about the gallery visitors walking above him -- part of an effort to involve the public in the creation of art, and perhaps even turn the interaction between artist and viewer into art itself.
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Extreme? Sure. But in the 40 years since, Acconci has evolved from performance artist to a designer of buildings and public projects, reaching the public using less salacious methods. And Design Miami shares his fundamental goal: to "[generate] unexpected and intense interactions," Marianne Goebl, Design Miami director, told The Daily Beast: "Ultimately, it's more interesting to surprise people, and teach them, than to serve them the safe and the obvious."
Acconci's Design District playground won't be completed in time for Design Miami in December, but his firm will show its designs for the project at the fair. Design Miami runs from December 5-9, 2012.