The Miami Design District is a neighborhood teeming with creativity and community. On October 3, the Miami Design District announced architect, designer, educator, and cultural provocateur Germane Barnes as the 2022 Miami Design District Annual Neighborhood Commission winner. The site-specific installation titled Rock|Roll will be featured throughout the neighborhood during November for Miami Art Week.
According to Barnes, the motivation behind his design stems from the neighborhood's Black communities. "Rock | Roll is an ode to the joyful spirit that persists in Miami's Black communities—a spirit of self-care that is so perfectly embodied in Miami Carnival culture. This city would not be what it is today without significant contributions from people who, on the one hand, look like me and on the other reflect deep ties to places beyond Miami, especially the Caribbean and Latin America."
Since the design commission's initial launch in 2015, Barnes is the first Miami-based talent to be selected for the commission in the last eight years. For Barnes, the project has become an opportunity for him to celebrate a city that has been his "adopted home."
Design commission curators Anava Projects shared, "One of the things we admire most about Germane and his practice—and there are many—is his community-engaged approach, which exemplifies the most exciting directions in the field at this moment. His work is at once accessible and poetic, critical and uplifting. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with him."
This year's curatorial brief, Something to Talk About, asked designers to create site-specific designs that would enrich the neighbors and invite the community to interact with Miami's culture and history. By spotlighting "Miami-centric stories," Barnes' project, Rock | Roll, is as multi-layered as the designer himself.
Pulling influence from Miami's vibrant history with Carnival, Barnes' project visuals hint at celebrating the contributions of Caribbean and Latin American communities. "The moral to the story is that there is space for everyone here," shares Barnes.
With fabrication help from ALT BLD, the installation will include a free-floating dome that nods to a "giant disco ball in both form and function." The design commission also adds, "For the duration of the Rock | Roll installation, the space will host Carnival-inspired playlists as well as a talks series developed in collaboration with University of Miami's Center for Global Black Studies and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Program to be announced."
In 2021 Barnes was named Harvard GSD's Wheelwright prize winner to further expand on his research project Anatomical Transformations in Classical Architecture. Following that appointment, he was named one of the winners of the 2022 USA Fellowship. His work and design practice, Studio Barnes, "investigates the connection between architecture and identity. Mining architecture’s social and political agency, Barnes examines how the built environment influences black domesticity." Most recently, he completed his architectural fellowship at the American Academy in Rome with his research project, Structuring Blackness in Rome.
He recently completed an installation for the Concéntrico Festival in Logroño, Spain, titled Intersect. He has a solo show in Little Haiti at the prestigious Nina Johnson gallery and received an inaugural grant from Theaster Gates and Prada’s Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab. He's also participated in MoMA's historic Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America exhibition and collaborated with Lexus for Design Miami/2021 with his installation ON/.
The past few years have been filled with exciting new projects and design accolades for Barnes. A design practitioner who's been doing the work for years, it's exciting to see practitioners like him taking up space and making space to discuss important social and economic perspectives closely tied with architecture and public space.
Outside of Barnes' independent work and research, he is an Assistant Professor and the Director of The Community Housing & Identity Lab (CHIL) at the University of Miami School of Architecture.
Stay tuned for more Archinect coverage on Barnes and his exciting work ahead.
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