In the historic neighborhood of Miramar, a pink house stands out: Rosey Pepto Bismol facade, sleek white trimmings, and lush vegetation. But it’s more than an ephemeral glance. The name on the wall: MADMi, invites to peek, to explore, and to walk in.
Maybe the name evokes the long history between art and madness or hints at the artistic energy that guided the transformation of the old residence on 607 Cuevillas St. into a joyful tribute to contemporary art and design. Or, maybe the five letters are just the acronym for Museum of Art and Design in Miramar.
It doesn’t matter.
The name of the museum -that opened its doors six months ago- embodies the hallucinating experience of finding beauty and new meaning in the most mundane artifacts, from a potting pot to a chair, from a desk to a coffee mug. It also proposes another approach to art, life, and aesthetics.
MADMi’s Program Director Nicole Pietri and curator Marilú Purcell Villafañe teamed to create a habitat that celebrates creativity, openness, diversity, and connectedness through the use of space, color, lines, patterns, and bold shapes.
“We felt that the moment was right to create a space where the protagonist was the design,” Pietri explained. “We have a lot of designers producing work and we didn’t have a place exclusively dedicated to design, so it made sense to fill that void.”
The duo also wanted to dissipate that air of formality and elitism that reigns over some museums and art.
They nailed it.
The starting point for the sensuous voyage was the natural grace of the house itself bequeathed to become a museum by Eduardo Méndez Bagur -a resident and diehard fan of his Miramar neighborhood- and his collection of objects and furniture emblematic of the middle and upper-middle class lifestyle of the Puerto Rico from the early twentieth to mid-century.
A bright red Apple recreation of his 1949 pickup Studebaker that stands proud in the deck, a Royal typewriter or the pottery from Caribe China, not only examples of great design, but organized in their historical context to reveal their evolution.
In another room, the silkscreen portfolio “Tres Estrofas de Amor” (Three Stanzas of Love), with illustrations by painter and graphic artist Lorenzo Homar, musical scores by composer Pablo Casals, and a poem by writer Tomás Blanco underscores “the modernist emphasis on interdisciplinary projects”.
“Art is a human expression. It is a means of communication. You have to begin to understand it without thinking that it is so complicated; particularly the design, that is a tool to improve the quality of life,” Purcell stated.
The sensuous voyage continues as you wander through the halls of the structure carefully decorated with paintings that highlight the simplicity and functionality of industrial design like the “Bici Criolla” (Native Bicycle) by Bobby Cruz López or “Negro Puya” (Black with little Sugar) by Carlos Dávila Rinaldi a recreation of a coffee maker.
Once the atelier of artists Lorenzo Homar, Juan Ramón Velázquez, Ada Bobonis and Aaron Salabarrías, the house built in 1913 in a French Neo-Classical style now showcases an eye-popping fuschia tridimensional front desk. Designed by Vladimir García, the piece redefines classical notions of space, color, and pattern.
The house also lodges the collections “Lorenzo Homar: Acróbata del Diseño” (Acrobat of Design ) and Charles Juhasz-Alvarado “Y” (And) until May and June respectively.
Acrobat of Design offers a window into Homar’s work as a designer. Particularly catchy are his sketches of a ring and a necklace for the French luxury brand Cartier.
“Y” presents three series of sculptural furniture pieces built and designed by Juhasz. The unexpected surprise: Juhasz personal brand of percussion instruments, chairs, and bridges.
Last month the museum said good-bye to its other temporary collection “Todxs a Todo” (Everyone to Everything), an homage to the Bauhaus movement characterized by its simplicity and focus on mass production. Over thirty artists and designers constructed tres spaces: a living room, a dining/kitchen room and a terrace. The purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate how design can solve every problem or dilemma.
“The design not only solves problems of utility, but it can also be beautiful and improve your space and your quality of life,” Purcell concluded.
MADMi is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adults pay $5 and students $3.