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From the historic Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach to the rapid rise of the Wynwood Art District, from Mediterranean Revival mansions on Biscayne Bay to the postmodern towers of Downtown, Miami is a city that is constantly reinventing itself without ever losing touch with its aesthetic roots. Though the city continues to change—the high-flying days of Miami Vice have been replaced by the tony showrooms of the Design District and the storied private beach clubs are opening their doors to travelers—there are more design-minded places to visit than ever. Read on for our guide to the best of them.
The Shanghai-based Spin Ceramics, which has gained a cult following for its contemporary take on Chinese porcelain and stoneware, closed its beloved New York City location, but has since opened its only U.S. storefront in Miami’s Design District.
Just like the two other Ralph Pucci showrooms (one in Los Angeles and a flagship in New York), the 6,000-square-foot Miami gallery has a revolving inventory of vintage and contemporary furniture from heavyweight names like Vladimir Kagan and Hervé Van der Straeten. Ralph Pucci is known for its selection of edgy and unconventional pieces (including lighting and artworks), making the Wynwood Art District a fitting locale for this spacious outpost.
The Surf Club
Last year architect Richard Meier created three new towers for the iconic nine-acre Surf Club property to create the Four Seasons at the Surf Club. It includes 77 rooms designed by Joseph Dirand and an opulent outpost of the restaurant at Italy's Le Sirenuse. Not to be missed is the New York–based boutique Les Ateliers Courbet where you can find pristine Puiforcat silver and glimmering Saint Louis crystal.
1111 Lincoln Road
1111 Lincoln Road by architecture firm Herzog de Mueron shows the world that even a simple parking garage can be made beautiful. The open-air structure features angular concrete columns with each level bearing different heights, creating a visually intriguing construction. With a private penthouse residence at the top, the building also includes offices, an event space, retail shops such as Jo Malone, and even a Shake Shack.
Perez Art Museum
Another project by Herzog de Meuron, the Pérez Art Museum in downtown Miami is a thoughtful celebration of the city’s agreeable climate and abundant vegetation. Surrounded by palm trees and a hanging garden, the structure seamlessly blends the inside exhibition spaces of modern and contemporary art with the beautifully landscaped Museum Park, which overlooks Biscayne Bay.
With an emphasis on expanding the definition of contemporary art, the Bass Museum in Miami Beach has become a leading destination in the city for fabulous fashion, architecture, and design exhibitions. Housed in a 1930s Art Deco building that recently underwent a $12 million renovation, the museum's permanent collection includes historical artifacts that trace Miami’s design history while upcoming shows include the first solo museum exhibition for quirky LA-based design duo the Haas Brothers.
The Design District
Once an overlooked slice of urban decay, Miami’s Design District is now home to over 130 popular retail stores—from antiques to haute couture—plus art galleries, restaurants, and bars. Hermès, Fendi, Bulgari, and Dior are just a few of the luxury fashion brands competing for the title of most architecturally bold storefront in the area. Meanwhile, the world’s top furniture brands—such as Minotti, Natuzzi, Janus et Cie, and Ligne Roset—make it a must for anyone outfitting a home, and local design shops like Simona’s and Jalan Jalan keep things distinctly Miami.
Bazaar Mar by José Andrés at SLS Brickell Downtown
Designed by Philippe Starck, the restaurant Bazaar Mar at the SLS Brickell Downtown is a spectacle of white: hand-painted, blue-and-white tiles on the ceiling and walls; white sofas and chairs; white marble tabletops and floors. Its nautical theme that works perfectly with the seafood menu created by legendary Spanish chef José Andrés. The adventurous Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica designed the undulating hotel tower itself.
Chef José Andrés is a partner of the American Express® Global Dining Collection, a benefit for Platinum Card® Members offering access to reservations around the world, exclusive culinary events and special experiences at celebrated restaurants. To learn more, visit americanexpress.com/globaldiningcollection.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Built by industrial tycoon James Deering in the early 20th-century and now a National Historic Landmark, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Coconut Grove is a deep-dive into exploring the Mediterranean Revival architecture and landscaping so prevalent in South Florida design. Ten of the property’s 50 acres are made up of Italian Renaissance revival gardens while the sprawling mansion overlooking Biscayne Bay features an impressive collection of art and antiques.