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Highlights From Design Miami/ 2009

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During a week when unchecked imagination runs wild and art comes close to scrambling your brain, Design Miami/ always refreshingly mixes things up by showcasing work with at least somewhat of a foundation based in function. Though the fair's Aranda\Lasch-designed tent seemed a but smaller than years past, the fair still gives the delightful impression of wandering through a Martian version of a 2045 Pottery Barn store.

This year's designer of the year, Maarten Baas, steals the show. It's not often a spoiler alert can be applied to a design fair, but if you don't want ruined the whimsy of coming across some of his creations, perhaps skip to the next paragraph. Though there are pieces from many of his trademark furniture series on display, the highlight is his ongoing work with clocks. Baas keeps not one but two people locked in cabinets. Each one has the duty of manually changing the time on a clock, one digital, one analog. One side of the cabinet shows the timepiece, while the other side features a porthole through which spectators can watch the timekeeper at work.

Also pushing the limits of "design" this year is The Brief Happy Life of Workshop Workshop, which -- for full disclosure and bragging rights -- is cocurated by P. Scott Cunningham, our assistant calendar editor, and British artists Jim Drain and Graham Hudson. In a space constructed by cast-off found items from the fair, the trio is in the process of creating zines that react to the fair itself.

Pop-rock band OK Go (of that famed treadmill video) has collaborated with designer Moritz Waldemeyer on a project involving laser guitars. Even if you're not a fan of the band, it's friggin' laser guitars and is so worth checking out. They play every day at 6:30. The lasers on the instruments interact with a screen that "paints" an image reacting to the music. OK, OK. It's kind of like the "visualizer" feature on iTunes, but it's still laser guitars and a chance to see a big-name band in an intimate setting.

Elsewhere at the fair, Cristina Grajales Inc. showcases Ayala Serfaty's glass and ceramic creations, which look like the illuminated offspring of glaciers and underwater coral.

Droog gallery shows its plans for a dream house of sorts, featuring furniture for said home. Pieces include Pieke Bergmans's "Crystal Virus" table, which looks like a few dozen glass beakers have melted and left the wooden table underneath charred.

The biggest hit, at least among the young folks in attendance, appears to be at Mitterrand+Cramer's booth. A table by Studio Job incorporates images of modern warfare and other evils.

Tent designer Aranda\Lasch's fractal furniture is on display at Johnson Trading Gallery. Ornamentum Gallery focuses on jewelry and other small-scale items, while Moss features Cathy McClure's somewhat devious-looking toy animals made out of bronze, circuit boards, and other electronic castoffs.

Also not to be missed is Design Miami/'s lecture series, which happens in the tent today, Thursday, and Friday at 5:30. The biggest name this year is shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who speaks tomorrow along with collector Jacques Grange and designer Mattia Bonetti.

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