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MasterMind 2016 Finalist: Sculptor Emmett Moore Captures the Magic City in His Designs

This year's three MasterMind Award winners — chosen from a group of ten finalists — will be announced this Thursday, February 18, at Artopia, New Times' annual soirée celebrating Miami culture, at the Coral Gables Museum. For tickets and more information, visit newtimesartopia.com.

Collaborations are all the rage these days. Designers and artists frequently cross paths, using art-world credibility to bolster their recognition. Local designer Emmett Moore is of a different ilk. The Rhode Island School of Design graduate has made a name for himself exhibiting his high-end furniture pieces in an art-world context. Whether it’s a table, chair, or light fixture, everything designed by Moore is imbued with a love and appreciation for fine-art sculpture.

His stark and thoroughly modernist pieces are a testament to the beauty of simplicity. In place of hiding behind decorative flourishes, his work stands on a practical utilitarianism that’s rarely the hallmark of someone of his age of 27.

In just a short time, his work has been shown at local venues like the de la Cruz Collection and Gallery Diet. For years, there were staunch divisions among the worlds of design, architecture, and fine art. Designers of some note were quick to pigeonhole themselves into one category. Yet, for the past couple of years, crossovers from the design world have been exhibited alongside high-art pieces at major museums and galleries.

Last year, Moore mounted his first solo show in New York’s Patrick Parrish Gallery, exhibiting work inspired by his fascination with the intersection between computer-aided design and handcraft. Made of traditional materials, the highly functional pieces were meant to tackle the increasing prevalence of 3D printing and digital processes in the design world.

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Though his work is typified by a clinical approach, certain pieces are touched by his sense of humor. In Ass Tray (2015), a piece named after the garden of earthly delights, a steel-rod frame sketches a genderless figure bending over to hold up a small tray on its rear end. The artwork is a nod to a sense of humor that seems Moore is fighting to hold back in most of his designs.

By blurring the lines between furniture pieces and art objects, Moore is one part of the increasing synergy between the world of design and art. In South Florida, that relationship couldn’t be more evident as neighborhoods like the Design District and Buena Vista have largely taken shape in the shadow of art-invigorated spaces like Wynwood and recently Little Haiti.

As a local living and working in Miami’s vibrant environment, Moore’s pieces are not just terrifically unique; they’re a product of the burgeoning art scene alive within the Magic City. 

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