Luis Pons' "Inflatable Villa" Returns During Art Basel, Reminds Us We're All Poor Now

Seven years ago, Miami-based architect Luis Pons unveiled the "Fabulous Floating Inflatable Villa" at Art Basel 2005. Floating proudly offshore in Miami, the over-the-top, gargantuan inflated pavilion aimed to critique the McMansion culture of the day, arguing that the real estate bubble had caused Miamians to lose sight of detail and quality in the wake of blind excess and uninspired grandeur.

How things have changed in the real estate world in seven short years. Using the recession as inspiration, Pons will re-introduce The Inflatable Villa to Basel for the first time this year in a entirely new context.

"It's the same piece, but the meaning has completely changed," explained Pons. "It's an analogy to represent the disparity between where we were in 2005 and where we are today."

The structure will be placed in a vacant lot in the Design District, a site which was intended to be developed until the bursting real estate bubble of 2008 halted the project. The villa, only partially inflated, will be placed within rigid metal bar columns that were part of the original construction site, its fragility a tangible analogy to the rigid metal structure encasing it.

In the words of a proposal of the project released by Luis Pons D-Lab, "the 2012 Inflated Villa is an art installation that offers a universal commentary on the human reaction to shock, our inherent vulnerability, the tenacity of the human spirit and a profound introspective of the last seven years. It reflects the deflation of our egos that occurred along with the plummeting value of our homes."

Whereas the 2005 Inflatable Villa was haughty and overbearing, the 2012 Inflatable Villa is humble and contracted... just like us Miamians.

"It's contained to represent how we have been trapped by the current situation and our past excesses," Pons said. "A new, more conscious society has emerged over the past several years, one with new values that is much more introspective."

And that's not necessarily a bad thing, he said.

"The fact that we are all coping with and surviving the crisis, and adapting to so many changes is significant. We will not go back to the way we once were."Pons pointed out that re-using an already existing piece of art to create something new also carries meaning.

"I'm recycling something, which aligns a lot with the public mindset since the recession. It's symbolic of a new way of lifestyle and of thinking."

The Inflated Villa will be on display at 79 NE 41st St. in the Design District during Art Basel, December 6 to 8. Check Out Luis Pons' Web site for more on his past projects and ideas.

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