Earlier this summer Mia and I popped over to Miami for a few days for some fresh design inspiration. I’ve always admired the way Miami’s social scene pairs big city sophistication with a casual beachy vibe and I wanted to return to see how this interplay could translate to home design. Our favorite take-aways include juxtaposing sleek minimalism with vibrant colors, using tapestries in novel ways and mixing prints in mosaic tiles to create an eclectic look. Read on for how we put our modern ranch spin on these ideas in our new collections and for some of my favorite diversions from our hunt (if you find yourself with a spare day or two in this fabulous city).
Miami’s Design District
Miami’s Design District has really hit its stride recently, collecting the roster of luxury retail brands one would expect in a premier shopping destination but retaining the artsy authenticity of the former warehouse district. We arrived early for a gallery party so we would have time to shop. I had my eye out for some new killer heels (seriously, Austin, can’t we get at least one decent shoe resource?). Maybe since my husband and I are currently building a new house I kept getting drawn instead to the home designer showrooms. With the likes of Christian Liaigre, Bulthaup, Armani Casa, Waterworks and more concentrated among a few walkeable blocks the District can justly make for an efficient fly-in trip to flesh out a build or remodel project. I had just finished pulling tear sheets for some fresh glass tile patterns for Coco’s bathroom at Ann Sacks when I noticed an ombre pattern of turquoise to white mosaic tiles that stopped me in my tracks – perfect for the wetbar backsplash.. We moved onto the Boffikitchen and bath showroom, noting the retractable cabinet doors that would work for our kitchen appliance garage and the kind of bathtub that could convince even a busy mom to carve out time for a soak.
Wynwood Arts District
Just a few blocks southwest of the Miami Design District is the Wynwood Arts District, whose bright graffiti installations are also visible from I-195 en route from the mainland to Miami Beach. The myriad galleries and trendy stores occupying the former warehouse spaces play host to a serious art scene but the street art on the Wynwood Walls and gardens are just as compelling (and free to wander). The only caveat is taxis are a little hard to find in the area so planning transportation in advance is a good idea.
Maison & Objet Americas
2015 marked the first year in which the legendary Maison + Objet show took its show on the road and Miami Beach hosted the Americas segment. The line-up of participating brands was a tiny fraction of those represented at the Paris show and many had yet to establish any distribution synergies for the North American market. The coolest line we had to order on the spot for HACIENDA was Into Concrete. Their scultupral corvi concrete wine cooler is on my short list of gift suggestions for corporate clients and couples. In addition, we’re keeping our eye on a clean-lined wood furnishings company out of Belgium called Ethnicraft.
At HACIENDA we don’t order a ton from trade shows because we develop so much product ourselves or with local partners but we do use venues such as these to draw inspiration. As I marveled at some of the lighting installations from Serip that resembled vines dangling with crystals, Mia and I could not help but wonder about the DIY possibilities of mixing materials and natural shapes to come up with some new artistic lighting pieces. Thus was born the idea to work with a local artisan to design a new capsule collection of signature, original lighting pieces for HACIENDA (this is currently in the R&D phase so stay tuned). I also browse every single fragrance and body care line for ideas for our own line. When I set out to start HACIENDA, I thought I would just find a line I liked and stock it. We only launched our own line of body care out of our insistence on believing in the absolute quality of every single ingredient and packaging component, and I am always trying to learn more about where we can take the line.
Design Notes and Our Collection
Miami Beach is developing so rapidly it has eclipsed mid century modern into a post modern wave that is severe but still liveable through the use of natural elements and color. How to warm up floor to ceiling windows and cool, concrete floors without detracting from a view? Vibrant cement tiles and interesting tapestries make an impression without over-shaddowing a clean-line look. I loved the use of mismatched cement tiles in the garden at the Delano and poolside at Hyde Beach Club. Mia and I could not get over the simple genius of Phillippe Starck’s use of tapestries at the SLS Miami Beach – both in lieu of headboards as bedroom décor and as retractable sun shades on the veranda at the hotel restaurant. Lower commitment than the usual accent wall of paint or wallpaper with even more punch from the texture. Serious food for thought (hint – Bunglo’s watercolor print curtains can work for so much more than the shower – did we mention they just launched via an exclusive trunk show at HACIENDA Austin?). Shay Spaniola, Bunglo’s founder and creative director, was the first to like our Wynwood graffiti instagram post, and reached out to us about working on a line of mixed print pillows together. We love it when it all comes together with our favorite local collaborators.
We may not have the ocean views in Austin but we do embrace a love of casual entertaining and outdoor living in our collection. In a nod to Miami’s grown up but playful cocktail scene we are pleased to present a new line of shagreen cocktail shakers and other accessories by Augousti Stevenson that just arrived from Paris. Finally, the art deco skyline of South Beach inspired this season’s color pallete of our cabana towels: mint green, turquoise and bright yellow. We produced a limited run of these bamboo beauties that are large and soft enough to use as throws so get them before they’re gone. Finally, the flexible seating in the lobby of my favorite Miami hotel, Soho Beach House convinced me of our need for some swivel club chairs that are comfortable enough for lounging but not too large to be pulled up to a small table – perfect for downtown condo living. We’re working on some custom Kim Salmela pieces now and are at your service to help design something that will work for your space.
Mia and I stayed at the SLS Hotel Miami Beach because it was within walking distance of the M&O Americas show and it was still under construction the last time I had been to Miami so I was curious to see the final product. We liked the Philippe Starck room designs, particularly the tapestry headboards, but the rooms in the old tower were tiny. So if a prime lower Miami Beach location is not essential I still think there is no rival to Soho Beach House up a bit further north. When traveling with the kids I usually stay there, or in an apartment at the Fountainbleau next door and then just walk over for lunch at Cecconi’s. The Betsy, down in prime South Beach, is also a good spot right in the middle of the old art deco Ocean Drive buildings and across from the beach-front playground. Staying at the SLS or somewhere sceney like the Delano close by puts this area within range of a morning walk down the beach boardwalk / walkway. Either way, an immediate plunge into the Atlantic is always my first order of business to get in a Miami state of mind and happily Mia was totally on board to join me. My go-to Miami look consists of a fun Melissa Odabashdress or caftan that can pretty much work for a cover-up, day or even night look – packing made simple.
The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS is a fun dining experience for friends of a group because of the whimsical range of sharable tapas dishes. We also enjoyed breakfast there on the outdoor patio (I had eggs with avocado and plantain chips). While there is always a buzzy new restaurant to try in Miami, if I had time for just one day I would go back to my classics, which are coincidentally both Italian – Casa Tua for dinner, and Cecconi’s at Soho Beach House for lunch because really, I have no problem eating burrata at every meal. A conveniently walkable loop for a single evening in South Beach for me would start with a mojito at the Delano, continue to dinner at Casa Tua, and end up with a little music and dancing at Hyde Beach Club.
On this trip I replaced the family trek to Jungle Island, a favorite of my kids, with an afternoon strolling through downtown Miami’s emerging art scenes: Wynwood Arts District, and the Miami Design District. I would rather peruse the new boutiques popping up in Wynwood than Lincoln Road any day, with the one very important exception of Alchemist, which is possibly the coolest concept store in Miami. The Herzog & de Meuron designed showroom perched on the fifth floor of the parking garage above the Lincoln Road mall is as striking as the collection of conceptual designer wares displayed like pieces of art. I picked up an Isabel Mirant skirt and laser cut leather Alaïa sandals. For a blend of classic and trendy fashion for women and men, The Webster is still the best bet in South Beach. I found myself more taken with the actual deco building than the bright accessories inside that were a little too much for me, but it is certainly worth a look.
Of course, there’s really very little reason one would need to stray from the spectacular white sand beaches that are so wide in Miami that they never feel crowded. The light blue ocean is so clear and warm that it beckons you in, whether just for a dip or for a sail. A Cuban coffee and a stroll or bike ride along the beach promenade can really make one start doing the calculations of a second home on the beach, a totally unoriginal thought, as evidenced by all the building and remodeling happening all over, even downtown. Luckily, it’s not too much of a trek to pop in for a quick weekend fix.