While the crowds at Design Miami sipped oceans of champagne, there was talk of other bubbles, including the real estate mania that has condo developers learning Portuguese. The Design District, itself frothy with Prada and Louis Vuitton, was also home to the Inflatable Villa, an iconic (and possibly Ionic) installation by designer Luis Pons. The blow-up villa made its debut at the 2005 fair, as a symbol of exuberance. This time it appeared on a Design District construction site, seemingly impaled on rusty rebar, where it was deflated and reinflated daily—Pons' commentary on real estate booms and busts. "It's the same piece as in 2005, but the meaning has completely changed," he said.
Around the corner, San Antonio architecture firm Muñoz and Co. also used inflatables to comment on American consumerism, with balloony, cartoony facades of Latino-inflected retailers (think Tiffani). (The goal was to promote the firm's Mestizo Regionalism, a brand of modernism with a Tex-Mex flavor.) The firm’s tower made of thousands of bottles of Jarritos, a soft drink popular along La Frontera, became a backdrop for photos.