A crossroads of Latin American and Caribbean cultures, international influences and contemporary artistic visions, Miami is not just an oasis of palm trees, beaches and ocean, but also a reference point for collectibles and architecture lovers. Wrapped in its Art Deco quintessence, the appeal of street art and beautiful natural settings.
Long stretches of white sand, crystalline skies, the intense blue of the ocean. Miami is an enticing destination, full of lively creativity and architectural culture where history and the present meet in unexpected harmony.
The capital of Florida is a surprising blend of different district: South Beach and its Deco buildings, with the elegance of the 1930s and 1940s; North Beach with its magnificent luxury lodgings, like the Faena Hotel with its Alice in Wonderland atmosphere; the Design District, a lap of luxury featuring boutiques, showrooms, design stores and pop-up installations; Wynwood, the street art zone, a visionary hub in constant evolution.
Visiting Miami in one or two days is a huge endeavor, but for those who have just 24 hours, here’s a quick guide with a focus on art and design. In December collectors from around the world arrive for Design Miami and Art Basel, with satellite events directly on the beach. The opulence of the city is best observed in the Art Deco Historic District of South Beach.
Pastel buildings, neon signs, porthole windows and glass blocks exude retro charm along Ocean Drive and Collins Ave. Inimitable styling sets the tone of historic buildings and hotels, converted as updated hospitality facilities: the Como Metropolitan, originally the Hotel Traymore, brilliantly reinterpreted by the designer Paola Navone; the Vintro Hotel South Beach with its eccentric vintage furnishings; the timeless Delano South Beach – inside a building dating back to 1947 – with its impressive hall designed by Philippe Starck; the Raleigh Miami Beach – temporarily closed for renovation – designed in 1940 by Lawrence Murray Dixon, an architect who built much of the Deco District; Essex House, a pillar of 1940s architecture, opened in 1938 and refurbished with its original characteristics intact; the luxurious Betsy Hotel, a literary paradise and the sole specimen of Georgian architecture in Florida, incorporating the historic Carlton Hotel to create the Art Deco Wing.
Exploring South Beach, not far from the exclusive Lincoln Road, the Bass Museum is a treasure trove of contemporary art, with permanent outdoor installations: sit down for a chess game in the work by Jim Drain, Chess Table, or admire the creativity of Sylvie Fleury in Eternity Now, the neon sign over the entrance. Temporarily closed for the health emergency but slated to reopen in the fall, the Museum of Art and Design at MDC presents the Cuban-American designer Jorge Pardo in November, who will transform its spaces into an immersive domestic interior design. At FIU – Wolfsonian-Florida International Museum of Miami Beach, don’t miss the design exhibition Color and Form: American Depression Glass, with masterpieces from the 1930s to the 1950s. Art also reveals its expressive power at the Pérez Art Museum with its exceptional sculpture garden, or in the vibrant spaces of the Rubell Museum, featuring the collections of Don and Mera Rubell in a former industrial building transformed by Selldorf Architects. For immersive art fans, Artechouse stages events on digital art, while an innovative initiative of Pace Gallery gives rise to Superblue Miami, opened in the Allapattah neighborhood in the spring of 2021. Co-founded by Marc Glimcher, President and CEO of Pace Gallery, and Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, with the idea of generating a revolutionary model for the display of creativity through experiential art, the list of names involved boasts leading contemporary figures like Nick Cave, Simon Heijdens, the French photographer JR, Daniel Boyd, teamLAB, Studio DRIFT and James Turrell.
For those in search of the quintessence of Made in Italy, a stop on Biscayne Boulevard is a must, to see the refined showroom of Visionnaire, where it is possible to peruse the interior design offerings of one of the most highly acclaimed brands on the international scene. Heading north, you can reach the most exclusive area of Miami: the Design District, based on an idea of Craig Robins, real estate developer and collector. Visit pop-up and permanent installations in the courtyards of this opulent and constantly expanding area, amidst palm trees and high-end boutiques, surrounded by burgeoning creativity. At the Palm Court stands the majestic Fly’s Eye Dome by Buckminster Fuller, a project dating back to the 1970s, while Elastika – by Pritzker laureate Zaha Hadid – transforms the historic Moore Building from 1921 with a visionary, innovative interior, a revolutionary installation whose oblique parts cross the space and stretch like chewing gum.
Avant-garde design establishes a dialogue with the vivacity of a luxury citadel, composed of flagship stores by companies like Dior, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chanel, Versace, Bulgari… New venues include the Fendi Caffè @ OTL with its psychedelic yellow walls and multicolored FF Vertigo logos, revisited in a Seventies tone and inspired by the FENDI Summer 2021 capsule collection; the pop-up Burberry’s World of Olympia, unveiled on 22 June 2021, a dynamic space that is a tribute to the image and craftsmanship of the iconic Olympia bag, and Prada Outdoor Coast (opened on 24 June), an authentic oasis, amidst Italian-style gelato carts. At the Baccarat Boutique B Bar & Lounge you can enjoy cocktails and champagne served in crystal glasses by the company, immersed in lively hues. On a pathway of lush nature and site-specific sculptures, visitors reach the promenade of design and the showrooms of outstanding brands: from Molteni&C | Dada to Rimadesio, B&B Italia to Luxury Living, Janus et Cie to Armani/Casa, Ligne Roset, Poltrona Frau, Poliform, Arclinea, Luminaire LAB, Minotti Miami, Bulthaup, BSH Home (Bosch and Gaggenau), Porcelanosa… all awaiting the new opening of RH Restauration Hardware, which has chosen the Design District for its living collections. There are also food and wind destinations to be experienced, like Pura Vida or Mandolin Aegean Bistrot, a small historic Greek cottage opened by the couple Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis before the district turned into an exclusive court.
The Miami creative experience also puts the spotlight on another special area, previously a place of abandoned factories and industrial archaeology used as a “canvas” by artists. Entering Wynwood is like strolling through an immense outdoor museum, getting lost amidst huge murals. There are also many galleries, trendy venues and eclectic gourmet attractions, as well as the first residential building created by Diesel. Don’t miss Wynwood Walls, an extraordinary open-air location for street art, opened in 2009 by Tony Goldman with the idea of creating a center where people can explore the potential of this abandoned area. A stage for 50 international talents from 16 different countries – from Aiko to Kenny Scharf, Lady Pink, Miss Van, P.H.A.S.E.2, Shepard Fairey, INTI, Os Gemeos, How&Nosm – called upon to create temporary installations. “Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases, to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place,” Goldman said.