By: Marwan Naaman
Miami is an energetic, dazzling, young metropolis, an international city with distinct neighborhoods like gloriously Art Deco Miami Beach, Spanish-style Coral Gables and bohemian, expansively lush Coconut Grove. But Miami’s most luxurious destination, the one where you can find glamorous boutiques, trendy restaurants, art centers and heart-stopping art installations, is the Design District.
Real estate developer, art collector and philanthropist Craig Robins is credited with having revived the fortunes of the once-slumbering district. Much like he identified the potential of Miami Beach in the 1990s, Robins saw the Design District – a neighborhood of home design shops and trade showrooms – as Miami’s next big destination. And he was right. The boom began at the end of 2005, when the big Design Miami event was held in the District, at the same as the very high-profile Art Basel Miami Beach. Since then, the area has continued to take on added sheen and glamour, with the opening of Miami’s most luxurious fashion and jewelry boutiques – Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Céline, Bulgari, Fendi, Burberry, Dior Homme, Tom Ford, Marni and many more, plus imminent openings for the likes of Van Cleef & Arpels and Zilli.
In addition to fashion, the Design District retains its design core, but with more high-end furniture boutiques now lining its streets, including Jonathan Adler (which very famously moved here from Miami Beach), Bisazza, Armani Casa, Kartell, Ligne Roset, The Rug Company and Vitra to name a few.
The Miami Design District is also a major destination for art lovers, housing as its does the spectacular De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space and the Institute of Contemporary Art. But what perhaps distinguishes this neighborhood from other artistic hubs is the great sampling of artworks and art installations living around virtually every street corner. Take for example the huge, delightfully retro-futuristic Buckminster Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome, originally designed by Fuller in the late 1970s then bought by Robins, who commissioned its completion in 2011. Then you have the massive “Jungle” mural, created by collaborative design studio 2X4 and that colorfully pays tribute to Miami’s subtropical climate. Another highlight is “Elastika,” by Zaha Hadid, a site-specific installation that seeks to mutate the 1921 landmark Moore building.
And like any “it” neighborhood of the 21st century, the Miami Design District is also home to a fair share of trendy restaurants, including Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, with its modern take on American cuisine, blissfully sinful Seven Lounge, Mandolin Aegean Bistro offering Mediterranean specials and French restaurant Buena Vista Bistro.
It seems that Robins has succeeded in redefining retail by creating one of Miami’s edgiest and most dynamic destinations.