MIAMI – Art Basel Miami Beach came early this year. Faena District, where most of the week’s A-list parties will happen, unveiled Faena Bazaar last weekend before barely a billionaire flew in for the annual art-circuit circus. Rem Koolhaas’s OMA designed the 20,000-square-foot retail component, as well as Faena Forum, an adjacent, multipurpose cultural and event space double the size, which staged its first performance Monday.
“Linda Fargo and Barbara Hulanicki. You can’t ask for more than those two icons to come to your opening,” said Kelly Framel, a New York and Miami-based fashion consultant (and blogger behind the Glamourai) who was tapped by co-owner Alan Faena to assemble pop-up shops through Sunday, a preview for their partnership’s permanent vision due in spring. “Faena’s fantastical world gives permission to create site-specific retail experiences to take a bit home with you.”
Three pop-ups and a gallery exhibiting surrealist Pedro Friedeberg’s resin marquetry and miniatures of his famous hand chair occupy only the ground level for the moment. Faena Bazaar will eventually expand throughout a four-story Art Deco hotel. OMA rarely renovates historic structures, according to Framel, but lead architect Shohei Shigematsu left his modern mark by cleaving a new central atrium encased by metal slats to contrast the classic terrazzo lobby and eyebrowed façade.
“The courtyard marries the old and new and inside and outside. It’s like a beehive of activity hidden from the street,” said Framel, beneath the space’s cascading faux pearl sculpture by Yoon Lee. “It took 90,000 ping-pong balls to make the work. I think we bought Amazon’s entire supply.”
Several artists were commissioned. Miami-based Typoe reimagined “Forms from Life” – his solo exhibit of multicolored columns and arches created for Faena Art Center in Buenos Aires in July – as a functional store painted in monochromatic red, including the floor. An assortment of clothing, jewelry and home focuses on limited editions and one-offs. Sequined snakes and scarabs embellish Figue’s upcycled U.S. Army jackets. Maiyet collaborated on a capsule collection of signature pieces, such as the Arc slip dress, with landscape designer Lily Kwong’s exclusive, hand-blocked botanical prints. Other collections are Carolina K, who created uniforms for Faena Hotel; Sybilla, and Dezso by Sara Beltrán, who displayed a $60,000 necklace of sliced ammonites and uncut diamonds among her handmade jewelry in 18K rose gold.
Danish fashion designer Henrik Vibskov made his own functional art installation for his solo pop-up. He describes numbered, inflated tubes as zucchinis, though they more resemble buoys or punching bags. A cluster forms a clever dressing room in the raw, unfinished space.
“I also made swimsuits and little caps like the Amish wear—we’re calling them ‘Miamish’—to stage a retro beach shoot or maybe a yoga performance with the zucchinis this week,” said Vibskov, who plans to repurpose the works for his Paris runway show in January.
With only two freestanding stores in Copenhagen and New York and about 40 wholesale accounts, he’s conservative regarding retail growth. Miami, where his father-in-law resides, intrigues him but he still doesn’t see how it could work long term. For the pop-up, there’s a selection of silk and lightweight wool pieces in a summery pink and coral palette.
“We left the heavy wool coats back home, though that’s what we sell the most,” he said.
Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre curated their Maison de Mode pop-up with sustainable brands that aren’t overly represented or carried anywhere here. Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture’s woven, multimedia pieces exploding with tulle and fabric strips from the Vagabonds series for fall mix with Edun’s bomber jacket in button-printed silk satin and Brother Vellies fur sandals.
“The concept is luxury without being fussy and stiff, like us,” said Framel.