Building foundations with Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry
With its wide streets and boxy buildings, Miami’s Design District still feels like an unlikely draw for fashion tourists. But not for much longer. Its real estate champion, Craig Robins of Dacra, has not only been busy targeting Cartier, Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Hermès and other big labels, but brands like Dior Homme, Céline and Emilio Pucci have all confirmed openings in the district this year, thanks to a deal with LVMH.
Robins has been open about his ambitions for the neighbourhood – located just 15 minutes from the airport, beach and downtown - since he first established Art Basel’s sister show, Design Miami, six years ago. ‘We’ve worked hard to build a new neighbourhood and create a new cultural destination here.’ he says. ‘We’ve seen great new restaurants come into the area and it was obvious to me that fashion was the next ingredient.’
Recently, much of the action has centered on one street:
NE 40th, where Marni, Margiela, Thomas Meier and
Christian Louboutin were all pioneers, setting up shop
over the past five years. British tailor Duncan Quinn was another early arrival.
Robins, who is also planning new residences and a boutique hotel, is aiming to have 40 to 50 brands in place by 2014. Some labels are relocating from the established Bal Harbour mall. ‘Here brands have the freedom to create new freestanding structures, to involve great architects, to build
in lots of frontage and occupy large multilevel spacesthat have real impact,’ says Robins. The stores of NE 40th Street are a case in point.
Writer: Henrietta Thompson
Photography: Are Eidet
It’s not all about poolside posing in Miami; the beautiful people know it’s what’s inside that counts. That’s where Kartell ought to be able to help. Its space on NE 40th is one
of the Italian manufacturer’s largest showrooms, a veritable zoo of plastic chairs from Miami’s favourite designers Philippe Starck, Giulio Polvara and Anna Castelli Ferrieri.
55 NE 40th Street
1.305 573 4010
Since relocating here from Coral Gables in 2007, LIgne Roset has been instrumental in cementing NE 40th as a preeminent high-end furniture destination. Its valet service and crack team of consultants have amassed many fans in Florida.
With the aim to help customers ‘live beautifully’, its has kitted out spaces at South of Fifth, Trump in Sunny Isles, Canyon Ranch and all manner of private des-res across town.
160 NE 40th Street
1.305 576 4662
Such is the ‘follow me’ power of those red soles,
wherever Christian Louboutin goes, others are sure
to follow. So when the cobbler announced his decision to open a Miami flagship on NE 40th, it put the district on sure footing for fashion success. The boutique, designed by New York architects 212box, is a wonderland for sole- searchers, with a web of multicoloured hosiery across the ceiling by Madeleine Berkhemer and one-way mirrors to encourage voyeuristic behaviour.
155 NE 40th Street
1.305 576 6820
In the space adjacent to En Avance, The Mosaic Building
has so far houses plenty of pop-up parties and trial-stores, including most recently a Pringle of Scotland temporary store, when the label launched its highly covetable collaboration with artist Liam Gillick during Design
Miami Art Basel 2011.
The Mosaic building
161 NE 40th Street
Originally on Lincoln Road, En Avance proved itself to be ahead of the curve and moved to the Mosaic Building in the design district just ahead of its notable new neighbours. A one-stop-shop for pre-party outfit planning, owner Karen Quinones stocks a carefully curated selection of European mens and womenswear brands as well as up-and-coming designers. Fragrances by Santa Maria Novella and Dsquared can be found next to denim from Anlo and MIH Marrakesh, Robert Rodriguez evening dresses and and Etro shirts.
161 NE 40th Street
1.305 576 0056
The creative director of Bottega Veneta moved his
own-label flagship from Miami Beach to the Design District
in 2009. It stocks everything needed to kit out his customers poolside, upward of their Blahniks or Birkenstocks: bright bikinis, drapey dresses and the ultra-light cashmere cover-ups he’s known for. In the back room is a library displaying coffee-table books and playing films and music, while upstairs a 1,000-square-foot gallery has a rotating
schedule of exhibits.
170 NE 40th Street
1.305 576 8383
Margiela first appeared as a pop-up shop, part of the F-Factory during Art Basel 2009, when high-end fashion houses set up micro-boutiques in the Moore Building. It turned out Margiela and Miami were a match made in heaven, and very soon the label began its hunt for a more permanent space. The new NE 40th Street store, while still temporary, is very efficiently bridging the gap until that space is found. Its printed-wood floors and trompe l'oeil effects provide the backdrop to the Maison’s signature whites – along with a selection of furniture and objects.
3930 NE 2nd Avenue
1.786 718 1931
Shoppers who’ve flexed their credit cards in the fashion boutiques can find a home for their bounty at this Brazilian wardrobe showroom. Ornare (which also designs kitchens, but we know what’s important here) is quite at home in the Design District, having long been aligned with the best of art and design. This sizeable showroom not only allows provides Florida with a bespoke service but also provides a platform for Brazilian architects during Art Basel and Design Miami.
3930 NE 2nd Avenue
1.305 438 0260
In 2008, during Art Basel Miami Beach, Marni made its
Miami debut with a flagship boutique on the corner of NE 40th and NE 2nd Avenue. Taking a lead from city’s Art Deco architectural surroundings, the streamlined space was designed by Sybarite. Like the Milanese label’s other stores, this one is defined by floating, undulating rails dripping with the label’s ready-to-wear and accessories lines. One of the first of the big brands to appear in the area, Marni has proved to have quite a reach.
3930 NE 2nd Avenue
Since 2006 Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High School has had a compelling sidewalk presence, thanks to
a bespoke fence by Marc Newson. Commissioned by Craig Robins and Ambra Medda to mark the launch of Design Miami, the fence consists of articulated metal slats that create a series of changing patterns when you pass by.
'Dash' fence by Marc Newson
4001 NE 2nd Avenue
Zaha Hadid’s alien Elastika installation was designed to ‘contradict and question’ the historic architecture of the 1921 Art Deco Moore Building. Like some extraordinary giant insect secretion (or used chewing-gum accident) the DACRA-commissioned artwork is both fabulously futuristic and ever so slightly frightening.
NE 40th Street & NE 2nd Ave
’I just had a good feeling about it, so I agreed to do
a pop-up for Art Basel and Design Miami 2009,’ says Duncan Quinn, the renegade British tailor who defected from a law career to make sharp bespoke suits Stateside eight years ago. Tipped off about Miami’s Design District, he opened the multilevel Townhouse in time for the show. The result?
His winter tan has improved and he’s had a lot of fun filling
up the space with all manner of boys’ toys, from beautiful Bentleys to dangerous-looking Ducatis - as well as the requisite DQ attire.
4040 NE 2nd Avenue,
1.305 671 3820