At Design Miami, Utopia is an invasion of organic, soft and colorful shapes to rediscover the synchrony between city and nature during the poshest design fair in the world

From the next 5 to 11 December we will follow Design Miami from this part of the planet with curious and, perhaps, a little skeptical eyes given the gray times.

Yet this year too Miami reflects on the relationship between man and nature and chooses the macro installation Utopia by Lara Bohinc to animate the urban spaces of the Design District.

We asked the London designer to explain her first public project, selected by the ninth Design District Award commission to enliven the poshest neighborhood (and fair) in the world.

What will visitors see during Design Miami?

Lara Bohinc: “Utopia is a project composed of four installations of seats and light objects in the Miami Design District, plus an intervention in front of the entrance to the Design Miami exhibition.

The installation also includes 900 birdhouses which will be scattered throughout the Design District. They are pieces with an organic appearance, inspired by the idea of a cell or an egg as the beginning of life.

The colors were inspired by the art deco architecture of Miami, so I used ice cream tones of lilac, sky blue, pistachio green and pink.”

What is the theme of Utopia?

Lara Bohinc: “Utopia explores the idea of what cities might look like if we lived in sync with nature. The installation itself was inspired by Buckminster Fuller's Fly Eye dome, an iconic piece of architecture in the Miami Design District that looks like a giant multicellular organism . Hence the idea of cells growing, swelling and taking control of the district, as well as living in harmony with the surrounding buildings, trees and birds."

Lara Bohinc worked a lot for Cartier and from her experience she retains a certain taste for the classic forms of the avant-garde of the twentieth century. Corrected by an ironic sensitivity, which exaggerates geometries and proportions.

With Utopia she tackles a difficult and inflated theme such as the environmental crisis, without giving in to the gray moods of an understandable austerity. On the contrary. She staged a hymn to the softness of enveloping curves with a work on a natural, feminine, abundant and generative archetype.

Is sustainability a recurring theme in your projects?

Lara Bohinc: “The relationship with nature is certainly a theme that constantly returns in my work. I only use natural materials such as stone, wood, metal, ceramic and glass.

I don't use plastic and try to avoid artificial materials when possible, because I think they are neither good for people nor for the environment.

Utopia is a temporary installation and will last a year, so it made sense to work only with a natural, sustainable and recyclable material."

Concretely, what are the sustainable choices of Utopia?

All objects are made of cork, one of the most ecological materials on the planet. Cork trees never need to be cut down, the bark is simply collected and then compressed into blocks. Each tree can ideally continue to provide cork for years and years.

The seats, sculpture and bird shelters were worked by 5D robotic milling machines, and then finished and painted by hand. The light parts of the installation are powered by photovoltaic cells and no electricity is required to make them work.

Cork is a naturally waterproof material, perfect for this outdoor installation".

Designer or artist: does this distinction still make sense?

Lara Bohinc: “I think a designer is an artist who makes functional art. I see myself as a mix of both. I would never describe myself as just an artist as I am proud to be a designer. In a certain sense I feel that a designer gives more: a work of art that you can really use in everyday life.

You could also say that an artist asks questions and the designer answers, but I also think that it is possible that design can accomplish both tasks independently.

Utopia asks the question "What would cities be like if we lived in sync with nature?". The answer is an installation with an artistic background that at the same time also responds to the brief "to provide seating for visitors to the area".

In a way I think these definitions are no longer important. What matters is whether work communicates with human beings or not, and whether it is enjoyable, whether it gives happiness."