top of page
  • Writer's pictureAaron DeMayo

Design to Policy - Art Basel 2019

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

The following article was published in the December 2019 issue of Downtown News, page 7, Talk of Downtown.

The design community has a unique ability to influence culture, society, and our physical environment. As we shift from the geological era of Holocene to Anthropocene, artists across many fields are producing work that keeps the difficult conversation at the forefront, a conversation more necessary than ever.


Artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude's recent work, “Wrapped Globe,” is a collage depicting Earth covered in semi-transparent foil, tied with cord, and resting upon the back of a woman, an interpretation of our planet’s vulnerability. This piece is a continuation of their work from the cover of Time Magazine, 1978, where the publishers pleaded for a universal crusade to save the planet.

Christ Wrapped Globe, a vulnerable planet, 2019, Climate Crisis
Christo "Wrapped Globe" - Photo by Azeez Bakare

Local artist Linda Cheung fuses technology, activism, and artistry into beautiful forms for physical and digital platforms. The latest mural, “Liberty Gardens,” brings awareness to the pollinators of native plants in urban habitats. Using the specially designed Augmented Reality app, users view and direct two vulnerable butterfly species to their host plants, allowing people to engage and identify the Milkweed and Coontie plants in real life.

Interactive Augmented Reality Art Mural
"Liberty Gardens" by Before It's Too Late


Miami Design District’s 2019 public art program features Virgil Abloh’s sculpture of a Sunoco gas station beacon, “Dollar a Gallon,” positioned like a sinking ship, it is a glimpse into his thinking on the role of advertising.

"Dollar A Gallon" 2019 Exhibit in Miami Design District, the role of advertising
Virgil Abloh "Dollar a Gallon" - Photo by Rene Bello

As the Artistic Director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton, his latest collection, Project 2054, contains performance pieces with the modern nomad in mind. It includes a nylon shirt that packs into a pillow form, a leather carryall that becomes a sleeping bag, and a coat with a back pocket that can unroll into a tent. The use of a heat map pattern on many of the items as a form of raising awareness is apparent, as Miami has seen a record-setting summer with 71 days above 92 degrees.


The processes that begin as experimentation in the arts influence the functionality and form of Architecture. For instance, the fluidity of Zaha Hadid’s 1000 Museum built with pioneering engineering techniques takes cues from her studios’ stunning works on exhibit at Design Miami 2014.

Zaha Hadid exclusive CNC carafe, architecture influence
Zaha Hadid Architects - Sculptural Vases

Monad Terrace, a new condominium on low-lying land along the Bay, is another example of a sculptural form imbedded with function. The project has a sawtooth profile surrounding a reflective lagoon that provides stunning bay views and privacy. To reduce the impacts of potential flooding, it has an elevation 11.5’.


This large-scale crisis requires forward-thinking policies. On November 21st The City of Miami Commissioners unanimously adopted a Resolution declaring a Climate Emergency written by Mayor Francis Suarez. This year’s Art Basel includes design exhibits across many media that continue to give a physical form to our most pressing issues, including the Anthropocene. Countless artists and activists throughout our community have contributed to bringing awareness, inspiring conversations, and galvanizing change.

Source @CleoInstitute
Success at City Hall - Climate Emergency Resolution Passed
Declaring a Climate Emergency, City of Miami
City of Miami Legislation R-19-0477, Declaring a Climate Emergency


bottom of page