Design Miami LA Launches in Holmby Hills

Two weeks ago the world’s leading international design galleries, artists and VIPs gathered for the first time in Los Angeles under one roof. And what a roof it was. The late architect Paul R. Williams’ 1938 Holmby Hills estate was the scene for the inaugural launch of Design Miami LA.

The globally recognized design fair took place from May 16-20 on the grounds of the massive 30,000-square-foot mansion once owned by Sidney Sheldon and Max Azria of BCBG retail fame. 

Design Miami CEO Jen Roberts said, “2024 is a year of evolution for Design Miami, as we continue to reach wider audiences through our expanding programming and ever-growing creative network.” Designed by Henrik Purienne, Global Creative Director for 2024, Design Miami LA’s concept was based on “Living with Design.”


Design Miami CEO, Jen Roberts at the members preview in Holmby Hills
Photo by BFA

As a testament to California’s rich design heritage, from the post-war mid-century design boom and car culture to the entertainment industry and space-age engineering, the fair was curated by Ashlee Harrison, who successfully bridged the gap of the past with the present, while exploring how the city continues to inspire global design conversations. “This edition of Design Miami LA was centered on the themes of eclecticism, imagination and nostalgia that have informed the city’s design landscape, bringing together some of the world’s leading international design galleries and voices,” said Harrison.

Some of the top exhibitors who came from Melbourne to Monaco, and took over almost every inch of the estate from both floors of the main dwelling to the pool house, included Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London/Paris/New York/Los Angeles; Gallery FUMI, London; Galerie Negropontes, Paris; Lebreton, Monaco; and Nick Thomm, Melbourne/Los Angeles. Popular local galleries included The Future Perfect, Los Angeles/New York; Southern Guild, Los Angeles/Cape Town; and James de Wulf, Los Angeles.

Iconic works that have rarely been seen were handpicked by Harrison and included George Nakashima’s 1985 Sanso table, represented by Moderne Gallery in Philadelphia, and Nacho Carbonell who works with industrial materials in an organic iteration such as the welded steel tree structure lamp, presented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery; and the stuffed-animal chair collaboration between KAWS and Estudio Campana, represented by local gallery Friedman Benda, which has never before been shown in Los Angeles.


Carpenters Workshop Gallery at DESIGN MIAMI.LA 2024
Photos by Charles White/JW Photography for Design Miami

New collections included Wexler Gallery’s exhibition, “Unleashed Creativity” with local LA designer and artist Gulla Jónsdóttir and her Puzzle Table, along with the debut of G U L L A jewelry. Inspired by her own architectural projects, the jewelry pieces are sculptural in their form, translating it into wearable art.

Making its West Coast exhibition debut, Todd Merrill Studio (New York), who had one of the most Instagrammable canary yellow curved sectional sofas featured from his exhibition, commented, “We were very happy that this fair was created by the new management at Design Miami, specifically because there has never been a good design fair in Los Angeles. Los Angeles has one of the best real estate markets in the country, with amazing homes that continually appreciate. We have many clients in LA but no fair venue, so this is a wonderful opportunity to bring the best of high-end design to LA from our studio.”

Friedman Benda (New York/Los Angeles) presented a group exhibition, with an emphasis on LA-based design practices highlighting works from Darren Romanelli, Carmen D’Apollonio, Farrell Hundley, Misha Kahn and Samuel Ross.  Marc Benda told the Courier, “We believe LA is a major center for showing and contextualizing contemporary design. Design Miami Los Angeles is an opportunity to engage with a community that has enormous potential.” Continuing that theme after the first day of the fair, on May 16, behind the Chateau Marmont, Friedman Benda’s also had an opening cocktail reception for two standout shows at its private gallery space for Carmen D’Apollonio and Jake Clark.

The new MC+ Design Studio in West Hollywood (in the original Spago building above Sunset Boulevard) showcased new work with Twentieth Gallery from lighting to sculptures. Founded in California in 2023 by the visionary minds of Mattia Biagi and Cardenio Petrucci, the dynamic, full-service design studio with a global footprint, is drawing from extensive expertise in residential, retail and hospitality projects.

As for the booming at-home spa-wellness sector, ATRA introduced the MORPHUS Lounge Chair. This sensory seat comes with headphones for a musical journey and LED light therapy goggles which sync with vibrations in the cushions, offering benefits like stress relief and pain management.  “We are bringing biohacking to a new home audience, and California being a wellness culture, it’s a natural fit between wellness and design,” said Managing Partner James Williams. “It’s making it much more accessible, which a lot of developers and designers are seeking now.”

Sponsors and collaborators included producer Ryan Murphy, designer Kely Wearstler, Kohler and Sainte Marguerite en Provence, the exclusive rosé sponsor of the fair, who poured both the Symphonie and Fantastique 2022 selections to the guests over the weekend.


Wexler Gallery presents Lynx Table by Judy Kensley McKie at DESIGN MIAMI.LA 2024

Other Parties Surrounding the Fair

Curator of the Arts at Hotel Bel-Air and The Beverly Hills Hotel, Jim Hedges has acquired more Andy Warhol photography than anyone else in the world. Hedges also curated the Warhol rare photography exhibit at Design Miami LA and hosted a welcome cocktail reception for the fair on May 14 at the Polo Private Room at The Beverly Hills Hotel.  “This was a great opportunity to welcome the community; we want to be supportive of all the arts and cultural initiatives that are coming to Los Angeles,” Hedges told the Courier. “The city doesn’t have anything like this, but we have such a great design and architectural heritage.” As Hedges pointed out, “It was a great collaboration since Paul R. Williams designed the Crescent Wing [at the hotel] and even the font for the signage.”

On the eve before the Design Miami LA launch, a curator and collector dinner, hosted by the Wall Street Journal, was held on the grounds of the William’s estate on May 15, which brought out participating artists, designers and gallery owners for an alfresco, candlelit gathering.

On the same evening, over at The Wallis, The Rosewood Residences Beverly Hills, held a launch party (hosted by Compass Development Group), after the UPFRONTS event property presentation hosted by The SOCIETY Group and also sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. The crowd got a peek at the new Rosewood  Penthouse A (one of four in the Estate Collection, designed by Thomas Juul-Hansen), along with other global properties such as the OWO Residences by Raffles in London. In attendance at the event  were Kurt Rappaport, Fredrik Eklund, Linda May,  Matt Altman, Paul Lester and Lea Porter, among other local real estate dynamos who noshed on Wolfgang Puck catering while sipping on mini-COUP Champagne bottles. And, the upshot is LA now has a world-class design fair to help fill some of these new residences coming to Beverly Hills. 

Share Post