Neon Monster’s Cave of Wonders at Design Miami

This month, Castro’s own design-collective-slash-toy-store, Neon Monster, traveled to Miami to take part in the multi-brand, limited edition environment, F-Factory for Art Basel. With their toy-filled Cave of Wonders, they might at first have seemed like the oddball invitee to the curated project, but a closer look shows the Art Basel 2009 newcomer fitting in quite nicely. Juxtaposing customizable art multiples and glossy, clean graphics, Neon Monster formed a seamless bridge between the high-end DIY handbags of ground floor anchor, Fendi and the hip, print-on-demand shirts of neighbors to the north, Surropa. As co-founder Kristy Klinck put it: “The modern collector wants fun, functional and engaging objects, items that both inspire and reward the owner. We used this opportunity to produce limited edition art forms that create emotional, tactile and surreal visual experiences.”

The Cave installation is the result of months of collaborations with artists and fabricators, and everything–from the tiniest of toys to an original tree trunk coffee table–has a price tag. Given Design Miami‘s dedication to merging culture and commerce and Neon Monster’s array of eye-popping art, many spelunking shoppers left the cave with a signature tote in tow. This being Miami, bright colors are popular. Highlights include a rainbow of Crylon cans by urban vinyl originator, Michael Lau, vinyl versions of Jeremiah the Innocent by indie icon Daniel Johnston, original psychedelic resin figures by Arbito, a 9-color silkscreen print by Dalek and brilliant jewel-toned snail sculptures by Neon Monster, San Francisco artist Reuben Rude and Pretty in Plastic.

In addition to being Neon Monster’s first time in Miami, Art Basel also marked the debut of their canon of characters: a motley crew of misfit monsters. Their F-Factory installation is guarded by a photo-op-friendly, life-sized sculpture of Mitch, their signature Mozart-loving monster, who is coming soon in collectible plush. During its opening week, Neon Monster also sponsored an afternoon of live painting with fellow monster, LA-artist Buff Monster. Buff’s bright color palette and ice cream toys were a great match for the installation and definitely a treat for visitors to the F-Factory. The F-Factory is located at 191 NE 40th Street. Neon Monster’s cave can be found on the second floor now through Christmas. Neon Monster is located at 901 Castro Street in San Francisco and is open 11-7 daily. [This article was originally contributed as a guest post to SFist.]

This was an amazing event. Big thanks to Neon Monster for inviting me along. As you can see from the photo below, I can’t even try to look menacing.