Design Miami: now is "not the best time for design" in the United States, according to designer, artist and architect Vito Acconci, who this week became the first American to receive Design Miami's Designer of the Year award (+ interview).
"I don’t think it’s the best time for design in most places, certainly the United States," Vito Acconci told Dezeen at the opening of his installation Here/There, Now/Later in Miami's Design District.
"I don’t know if I could name a number of United States designers that I think are that interesting," he added.
Acconci Studio has created an experiential installation for Design Miami, hanging sheets of translucent grey fabric from the ceiling to create a dimly-lit and disorienting maze. Acconci's own voice appears from each corner of the space, talking about different themes and concepts.
Above: inside the Here/There, Now/Later installation
The designer also told Dezeen he was sceptical about plans to build a playground based on one of his designs in Miami's Design District. "When somebody says they’re going to build something in 2014 and it’s now the end of 2012, you can nod your head and smile, but who knows," he said.
The design for the Klein Bottle Playground (above) is a perforated climbing frame based on a mathematical model of one continuous surface with no outside or inside.
It wasn't planned for Miami originally, Acconci explained. "It’s something we proposed years ago actually, in 2000, to an organisation in Switzerland called Art for the World. They wanted us and some other people to propose a playground, and they had kind of interesting parameters – they would have a kind of competition in a number of cities [...] but the judges would be children, which I thought was great.
"We won a few times but we never got our projects built," he added, saying he didn't know if the playground would ever be completed in Miami either.
Acconci was named Designer of the Year in October with the announcement of plans for the playground to be permanently installed by 2014.
Dezeen has been in Miami this week reporting on Asif Khan's "ice halo" of Swarovski crystals, Glithero's hanging domes inspired by champagne cellars and a collection of luxury travel accessories by international designers for Louis Vuitton – see all our stories from Design Miami.
Photographs are by Dezeen. Here's the transcript of our interview with Acconci:
Emilie Chalcraft: Tell us about this installation, especially the sound. What can we hear?
Vito Acconci: What we wanted to do was, once we got this design award, we thought instead of just showing projects that were already done, let’s do some kind of cross between physical and virtual. So let’s make these kinds of spirals that make these enclaves made out of screening, but when you’re in there there’s no physicality expect the spirals that are made out of screens, but maybe the words could start to anticipate what some of our next projects would be. So it was trying to feel out some possible project. I don’t know if it works yet.
Emilie Chalcraft: Whose voice is it?
Vito Acconci: It’s mine.
Emilie Chalcraft: So you’re talking about ideas, or poetry, or…?
Vito Acconci: Well no, each one has a particular kind of theme, I mean the kind of space, so uh, I don’t know if it works yet.
Emilie Chalcraft: You’re the first American to be named Designer of the Year by Design Miami.
Vito Acconci: Yeah, it’s true, isn’t it. I mean, I was surprised because I thought most people don’t even think of us as designers.
Emilie Chalcraft: Do you think America is having something of a design moment? What’s happening in American design?
Vito Acconci: I don’t think it’s the best time for design in most places. Certainly in the United States, I don’t know if I could name a number of United States designers that I think are that interesting. I don’t know, what country do you think would have more interesting designers now?
Emilie Chalcraft: Well I'm from the UK so I think the UK has good designers!
Vito Acconci: Yeah, yeah, well I’m from the US but I don’t think the US has such great designers now.
Emilie Chalcraft: Could you also tell us about the Klein Bottle playground that’s planned for Miami and how that’s coming on?
Vito Acconci: But it was never planned for Miami, I don’t know how that started. It’s something we proposed years ago actually, in 2000, to an organisation in Switzerland called Art for the World. They wanted us and some other people to propose a playground, and they had kind of interesting parameters – they would have a kind of competition in a number of cities, some closer to almost third world cities, and that’s how it started mainly, but the judges would be children, which I thought was great [laughs].
And we won a few times but we never got our projects built. So now, years later, the Museum of Modern Art in New York had a show called Century of the Child, and they showed the model of our playground there, but again at first they said they were going to build it and it never got built, so even though I read a lot of things saying it was designed for Miami and for the Design District in Miami – not in the slightest.
Emilie Chalcraft: But it is going to happen?
Vito Acconci: I don’t know. When somebody says they’re going to build something in 2014 and it’s now the end of 2012, you can nod your head and smile, but who knows.