The party at Art Basel Miami Beach 2017 is now officially in full swing, with the big fair opening its doors to VIPs this afternoon, the night owls beaching away their hangovers, and street style stars out and about in their flashiest, boldest looks. And amid all the colorful noise vying for your Instagrams, there's an experience to be had in a former Art Deco residence, not far from the congestion on the beach, that feels luxurious in its palatial serenity, while also managing to be an Instagram hit.
Created by the London-based design duo Studio Swine (for Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers) in a commission by the retailer COS for Design Miami, New Spring is a towering, 24-foot aluminum tree that looks like a midcentury chandelier, whose curved arms reach out over the great room of the Temple House, an iconic property designed by the Art Deco architect L. Murray Dixon, to emit soapy "blossoms" that gently float down to the waiting visitors below. When I visited on Tuesday, I watched adults actually giggle playing with bubbles.
"We've been constantly refining the [soap] solution since pretty much this time last year," explained Alexander Groves, the British artist who runs Studio Swine with the Japanese architect Azusa Murakami. Originally, they had debuted a smaller version of the installation with COS in a 1930s Italian cinema at the Milan furniture fair in April. There, the theater was completely dark, and the whiteness of the tree stood out starkly. Here, the blinding Miami light streams in through the tall windows and bounces off the house's curved white shoulders. The whole scene is washed in paleness, in a pleasing way. It cleanses the Art Basel palette.
The zen spa vibes are reinforced by the cotton gloves that visitors are presented with upon entering the space. Because the natural oils of your hand will burst the bubbles, gloves allow you to actually catch and handle the bubbles, which come scented with local essences, like citrus, coconut, and tobacco for the Cuban influence on the city, explained Murakami.
"We always try to make it true to its place," added Groves.
Upstairs in the house, there's a concept store with curved sculptures that echo New Spring and double as clothing racks for COS pieces from the current collection, selected by the brand's creative director, Karin Gustafsson, to evoke the installation's tone and feeling. There are a lot of muted grays and whites, and Gustafsson emphasized the tactility of the pieces.
While browsing the edit, a pair of white pinstriped pajamas caught my eye. Feeling their softness, I thought, I might finally be able to get some rest in Miami.
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