Art Basel Begins With Parties Throughout the Design District

By Dana Gruber and D. Channing Muller December 3, 2008, 6:11 PM EST

Design Miami held its annual Vernissage preview party in the design district last night before the art fair's official opening today.

Photo: BizBash

Though many of Art Basel Miami Beach's satellite exhibits officially open to the public today, a lot of them hosted invite-only parties last night in the design district.

Emeshel, a renowned European designer in luxury crystal and glass sculpture, debuted her new line of men's and women's fragrances last night with a special reception at her design district gallery, which opened in April. Nearly 2,000 guests attended the launch, catered by Delicious Catering Service. “As the gateway to the Americas, Miami is an ideal test market for the U.S. launch of our company,” said Sandy Marc Kertesz, C.E.O. and president of the Emeshel company.

The five women's perfumes and one men's cologne are packaged in bottles “designed to resemble human sexual organs, taking the art of perfumery to a whole new dimension of artful sensuality and symbolism,” according to the designer.

The entire collection of sculpture, jewelry, crystal, and perfumes will be on display at the gallery at 3930 NE Second Ave. through Art Basel, ending Sunday.

Across the street from Emeshel's exhibit, Wolfgang Roth & Partners, Fine Art hosted an opening reception for David LaChapelle's “Jesus is My Homeboy” and Arne Quinze's “Sculptures” exhibits. The night featured modern art, sculpture, and a contemporary, lofty environment in which to mingle.

Guests, including some celebrities, packed the house to see LaChapelle's photographic take on how Jesus would carry out his message in modern times. Also on display were photos he's taken of celebrities such as Lil' Kim and a small private collection of Andy Warhol paintings.

Quinze explained that his brightly colored sculptures were strategically arranged in the gallery to represent overdeveloped cities that were rapidly built.

Guests enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvres from Smith & Wollensky as they wandered throughout the gallery's three spaces, many having the chance to meet and take photos with the artists. The exhibits will be on display through January 10.

Farther west, the fourth annual Design Miami art fair opened to select V.I.P.s and art enthusiasts for its annual invite-only Vernissage preview party. Guests wandered throughout the 43,000-square-foot temporary structure-designed by New York-based architects ArandaLasch, with assistance from EventStar-getting their sneak peek of the international exhibits such as the Swarovski Crystal Palace and works from designers of the year Fernando and Humberto Campana of Brazil.

“It's by far the most unique structure we've been involved with,” said fair principal Craig Robins. “We wanted to celebrate and show the possibilities with a temporary structure, pushing the envelope with what can be done in a tent.”

Throughout the evening, Lyon & Lyon Catering served pass hors d'oeuvres while the Audi lounge's bar provided complimentary champagne and illy espresso.

The brainchild of European art enthusiast Ambra Medda, Design Miami combines designers, collectors, sculpture, architects, and galleries into a four-day exhibit biannually during Art Basel in Switzerland and Miami.

On the corner of NE 39th Street and 1st Court, the showcase is open daily in the design district through Saturday, with satellite exhibits and design talks happening throughout the weekend in the surrounding blocks. (Check back tomorrow for more about Design Miami).

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