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A First Look at Design Miami

Audra Kong 01.jpg

By Audra Burch

The preview of Design Miami opened Tuesday, Dec. 2 with its signature curated collection of furniture and accessories, conversation pieces and a few experiential offerings -- from watching flora pop-up atop a table to viewing coral to counting rice.

The collectible design fair, erected under a tent in Miami Beach, serves as a global stage for 36 galleries, four design curios and eight collaborations/satellites. And the occasional celebrity here to get a first look at the collections including supermodel Elle Macpherson and actor Owen Wilson.

The Miami-based Coral Morphologic, one of the fair's design curios, offered visitors the chance to experience coral reef organisms in an artful setting. Think goggles, headsets, film and photography. "It's an immersive coral therapy, a 360-degree virtual experience," says Colin Foord, who along with Jared McKay founded Coral Morphologic. "It's Jacque Cousteau meets Carl Sagen."

Back on shore, for the collector who has everything, consider a 9-foot King Kong, still tethered to a skyscraper but refashioned in polished bronze and black crystals. The piece, drawing a steady stream of visitors taking selfies, is titled Burj Khalifa, inspired by the world's tallest building in Dubai. Interested? The cost is $520,000.

"This is for the person who is into big," says Julien Lombrail, co-founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery. "It's a power piece for someone who understands art and design."