Byung Hoon Choi's Basalt Benches
(Courtesy of Friedman Benda)
The difference between design and art lies primarily, we are told, in function: design answers a practical problem, art does not. However, in reality, the line does get intentionally blurred. Looking at some of the high-end, one-off products presented at this year's Design Miami/ Basel, it is hard to discern what practical problem they might be answering that has not already been better answered at IKEA.
From Mathias Kiss' mirror that reflects our habits of living as more than one's reflection, to Tora Urup's visually disorienting glass bowls, to Nacho Carbonell's public furniture complete with a cocoon for privacy, the design works here are not so much solving a functional problem, as playing with form, shape, and material to create works that have their own material truth and gravitas. In form and function, they are indistinguishable from contemporary sculpture.