Lara Bohinc’s otherworldly Utopia installation brings cork furnishings to the Miami Design District

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Lara Bohinc’s otherworldly Utopia installation brings cork furnishings to the Miami Design District

Spirit sculpture surrounded by Utopia armchairs as part the 2023 Design Commission for Miami Art Week designed by Lara Bohinc (Courtesy Bohinc Studio)

Colorful eggs and otherworldly sculptures will populate the Miami Design District as part of Utopia, an installation by Lara Bohinc of Bohinc Studio exploring our engagement with nature. The work commissioned as part Miami Art Week, in collaboration with Design Miami/ Curatorial Lab, is the recipient of the lauded 2023 Design Commission. Bohinc’s design features sculptures made of cork that will greet fair visitors.

Utopia is Bohinc’s first public commission in the U.S. Her exploration of form and materials through design is an invisible string that connects mediums—stemming from her jewelry designs as a consultant at Cartier, to her own furniture and design studio launched in 2016. Her essence permeates across her work with works contradictory in their size, form, and volume.

An eg sculpture with a light inside is surrounded by two long circular sofas.
Synchronicity sofas surround the Beginning light sculpture (Courtesy Bohinc Studio)

Utopia features different furniture objects, light fixtures, and birdhouses all reminiscent of cell organisms, individually named: Spirit, Beginning, Utopia, Synchronicity, Friends, and Sanctuary. Their bulbous and irregular forms appear to balloon into life, and will be placed in close proximity to one another to generate intimate recreational spaces.

Described as “organic creatures,” the sculptures respond to the commission’s brief and embrace sustainability through materiality. A steel frame gives structure to each of the pieces made entirely of cork. The pastel shades coating their exteriors pull from Miami architecture. Given the complexity, Bohinc used a 5D robotic milling machine to craft the cork sculptures. Each will be assembled and painted in vibrant hues by hand.

The installation is surrounded by the neighborhood’s luxury stores and located in dialogue with Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, which deeply influenced and informed Bohinc’s design and thematic approach.

“The installation itself was inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, as this piece looks like a giant multicellular organism,” Bohinc told AN. “This directly influenced the idea of cells growing and taking over the district and organisms living in synchronicity with surrounding buildings, trees and birds. This huge round structure also inspired the idea of free standing egg sculpture as the final piece of the installation in the Paradise Plaza.”

Bohinc used a 5D robotic milling machine to craft the cork sculptures. Each has been painted by hand. (Courtesy Bohinc Studio)

The first of the pieces, Spirit features three solar-powered light sculptures that illuminate the installation at night. While, Utopia is a collection of four armchairs outfitted in vibrant pastel hues. The armchairs surround one of the Spirit light sculptures, providing a space to rest and enjoy the other sculptures

Beginning is a single egg-shaped, solar-powered light fixture conceived as an interactive hiding space for children. It alludes to a giant cell organism at the beginning stage of life and serves as a totemic centerpiece to the installation. Synchronicity is a half round sofa composed of five seating spaces that resemble the Utopia armchairs. The pink sofa mushrooms around Beginning, will contrast with the egg sculpture’s blueish tone.

Egg-shaped bridhouses scattered across trees in colorful hues.
Sanctuary birdhouses will hang from trees across Miamis Design District (Courtesy Bohinc Studio)

Additional seating will be offered through Friends, a work comprised of a small bench and stools. Above ground, dangling from tree branches will be Sanctuary, a collection of 900 birdhouses in cocoon-like forms. Scattered throughout the neighborhood’s trees, the organically shaped objects are painted in pastel shades similar to those of the furniture pieces staged on the streets. They will be realized in three sizes and are designed to house the area’s avian life.

Last year’s Design Commission saw a similar furniture-focused display from artist and designer Germane Barnes.

Utopia is set to be unveiled later this month to coincide with the design fair and will be on view into the new year.