For the past three years, annual design fair Design Miami/ Basel has mounted a programme called “Design at Large”, in which an internationally recognised design talent curates an exhibition of large scale works – in a way that’s as much unlike the traditional exhibition format as possible. Previous editions have been curated by the likes of hotelier Mr André Balazs (the man behind The Standard hotel group) and Ms Martina Mondadori Sartogo (the founder and editor-in-chief of influential interiors magazine Cabana). But this year, for the first time, the talent in question is a fashion designer – menswear maverick Mr Thom Browne, no less.
It’s an astute choice, given both Mr Browne’s keen eye for design and his penchant for interrogating the format of the runway presentation in his own seasonal shows. This is the man, after all, who, for his SS11 show, held a Nasa-style press conference – replete with gilt-lipped astronauts – in Paris’ Communist Party headquarters, designed by the visionary Brazilian modernist architect Mr Oscar Niemeyer. Given such pedigree, there was always going to be something a little spectacular about this particular exhibition. And yesterday, as it launched, it became clear that Mr Browne is not one for disappointing his fans.
For Mr Browne’s curatorship of Design at Large 2017, he has reconstructed the set from his AW14 show – a woodland landscape populated with animals, all of it sewn together from classic menswear fabrics. Alongside this, he is curating an exhibition of great desks of the 20th century, in a nod to the show he mounted at Pitti Uomo in 2009 (this featured multiple models sitting at desks tapping away noisily at typewriters – the performance was recreated yesterday at the fair but with young design students instead).