Beneath a resplendent sunset over Miami Beach last Thursday, Swiss luxury skincare company La Prairie unveiled a site-specific light installation by Spanish artist Pablo Valbuena.
Entitled Wave (2019), the artwork was an assemblage of towering aluminum monoliths outfitted with LED lights and embedded into the beachfront. Come nightfall, the lights would climb and descend each pole with a fluid elegance that mimicked the hypnotic movement of the rolling waves nearby. The ocean also served as a natural audio component enhancement to the piece.
“The sunset, the colors, the sound of the [ocean]… Wave is an artistic response to this location,” Valbuena said in a brief speech during the vernissage. Attendees were then invited to wander amid the illuminated posts to experience the installation from various perspectives.
With art and innovation at the forefront of La Prairie’s ethos, the Swiss beauty company approached Valbuena, whose practice investigates space and time by way of kinetic light installations that react to their surroundings, to create a new work forged according to the theme, The Shape of Light. The commission was presented alongside the 2019 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, which ran from December 5 to 8.
Wave was also a fitting addition to Valbuena’s “Array“ series, which employs light and motion to create perception-bending artworks. “The series explores the transformation of form through time,” Valbuena said in a statement. “These installations are made up of an array of moving points of light that gradually reveal and conceal parts of a movement. They create a moment where we stop seeing isolated elements and begin seeing the whole.” As such, Wave illustrated the ocean’s ebb and flow through the precise choreography of blinking lights.
After Wave’s reveal, guests were transported to the seventh floor of 1111 Lincoln Road, where rows of impeccably set banquet tables populated an unexpected space: an open-air parking garage with exquisite views of the Miami skyline. The lot was designed by award-winning Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, the Basel-based masterminds behind the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Tate Modern in London, and the so-called “Bird’s Nest” stadium built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“[Herzog & de Meuron] said that this building was the most radical work they have ever done, describing it as pure Miami Beach—all muscle without clothes,” La Prairie CEO Patrick Rasquinet told the room. “This space has been designed to let the natural light in, and to observe the Miami skyline. I think this is an unusual and unique place to continue our journey into The Shape of Light.”
Dinner was a four-course gastronomic voyage from darkness to light. The meal began with “Absolute Darkness Pierced,” a jet black soft-boiled egg topped with black Ossetra caviar and served on a black plate with black utensils. Following the next two courses, entitled “Delicate Light Unveiled” and “Darkness and Light Fused,” the night concluded with “Light Celebrated,” a white meringue dome housing a white passion fruit and Florida citrus tart embellished with yuzu caviar pearls. Caviar from various sources was integrated into each course—a nod to La Prairie’s Skin Caviar collection, which is all about achieving beauty through light.
Earlier this year, La Prairie introduced a new science story involving two of its recent revolutionary products: White Caviar Illuminating Pearl Infusion and White Caviar Crème Extraordinaire, both of which are engineered to boost the skin’s luminosity when used together. Over a decade of research led to La Prairie’s invention of a tyrosinase-blocking molecule called Lumidose, which sets the White Caviar collection apart from any other skincare product on the market. In April, La Prairie celebrated the re-introduction of their newest products at Dia:Beacon, an art institution in New York’s Dutchess County, which famously houses light-based masterpieces by the likes of Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman, and Mary Corse. A new white caviar innovation will debut on laprairie.com on January 21, 2020.
Art has long been an essential part of La Prairie’s philosophy. In 2017, the brand partnered with the Swiss-founded art fair, Art Basel, to commission new work from cross-disciplinary artists who take inspiration from like-minded themes which support the brand values and latest innovations. La Prairie has since collaborated with French architect Paul Coudamy, Berlin-based conceptual artist Julian Charrière, Swiss sculptor and photographer Manon Wertenbroek, Swiss architect Mario Botta, and South Korean light artist Chul Hyun Ahn for the Art Basel fairs in Basel, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Miami Beach. This summer, the beauty company also exhibited work by three young photographers who were tasked with conceiving a series of photographs that explored the power of the female gaze.
Notably, Valbuena’s Wave in Miami was the first public artwork commissioned by La Prairie, though it was a short-lived, one-night-only phenomenon on view to the public for the night of December 6. In 2020, the beauty company will announce new artist collaborations and projects that similarly explore the parallels between original works of art and La Prairie’s design-forward ethos.
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