Design Miami/’s Aric Chen Name Checks His Five Favorite Things

As soon as Aric Chen was appointed Design Miami/’s first-ever curatorial director, a post introduced to give the fair a more global perspective, the renowned design scholar began to consider the most urgent issues of our time. For the Basel, Switzerland, edition this past June, Chen called into question the havoc humans wreak on the environment—and the role designers can play in changing that course. His theme for the fair in Miami, taking place December 3–8, is Elements: Water, an all-too-timely exploration as rising sea levels threaten the city’s future.

The Shanghai-based curator, 45, has an appetite for challenge: Until August 2018, he was the lead curator for design and architecture at Hong Kong’s forthcoming M+, the city’s highly anticipated new art museum, set to open in 2020-2021 (he remains involved as curator at large). Chen, former creative director of Beijing Design Week, had been hired to build the M+ 20th-century collection of global design and architecture from an Asian point of view. One of his early co-curated shows for the new M+ will be the first large-scale exhibition devoted to the work of late Chinese architect I.M. Pei. Here, the globally curious creative downloads his latest finds.

Roberto Lugo

I first saw Roberto Lugo’s work earlier this year at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. The Philadelphia artist calls himself the “ghetto potter” and reinterprets historical ceramics and decorative arts through the lenses of hip-hop, African-American history, and activism to become the “love child of Kehinde Wiley and Grayson Perry,” as his gallerist, Lewis Wexler of Wexler Gallery, aptly told me.

Alexandra Kehayoglou

I must admit: I am really not a fan of carpets. Rugs, on the other hand, I kind of have a thing for. I don’t own any, but Argentine artist Alexandra Kehayoglou’s are making me reconsider.

Piet Hein Eek’s Small Ceramic Lamp, Standing

Maybe because I tend to move around a lot, I’m currently into small, un-cumbersome things, including household objects. I recently returned from Eindhoven and picked up this great little ceramic lamp from Piet Hein Eek’s studio. It’s tiny, but packs a punch with an oversize toggle switch.


Drawing on everything from video games, VR, and holograms to sexuality, neuroscience, and religion, LuYang is probably China’s leading Post-Internet artist. Although not always easy to look at, Yang’s jarring collisions of imagery and fragmented narratives capture the complexities and unruliness of the world of “virtual humanity,” let’s call it, that we’re creating.

Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping

Right now, it’s all about the confluence of shopping, culture, and entertainment as brick-and-mortar retail struggles to maintain relevance in the age of e-commerce, and museums move evermore toward spectacle and “experiences.” This is especially true in China, where I live, and has prompted me to revisit Rem Koolhaas’s Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping. It was published almost 20 years ago when Koolhaas, again ahead of his time, was experimenting with the spatial implications of this phenomenon in his Prada Epicenters and Guggenheim Las Vegas. I recently went to ridiculous lengths to get my hands on a copy of the book, which isn’t easy to find.

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