The mix of culture, fashion, architecture and cuisine in Miami’s Design District has made it a destination for students and tourists alike. If you don’t know where to start, make this your step-by-step itinerary for enjoying a day away from campus.
It all started with pineapples. What is known today as the culturally-rich Design District in Miami all grew from a pineapple farm. T.V. Moore, the original owner of the area, planted seeds that ended up foreshadowing the future of Buena Vista—a melting pot for luxury fashion, architecture, interior design, art and food in downtown Miami that today brings in visitors from all over.
For the Design District, it has been a long road from farmland to Fendi columns. Just over 100 years ago, Moore branched out and built the Moore Building in 1921 to house his furniture business—one of the first of its kind in Miami. The building still stands today, now as a combination of historic architecture and modern art that also serves as the permanent home to architect Zaha Hadid’s “Elastika” exhibit.
According to the Design District’s website, the area experienced a revitalization toward the end of the 20th century, when businessman Craig Robbins purchased the Moore Building, along with 18 surrounding blocks, with the vision of transforming rundown buildings into studios, showrooms and stores.
In 2011, Robbins was joined by partner L Catterton. Together, they recruited artists, designers and brands to open in the area. It has since become a destination for cosmopolitan and creativity, featuring 120 luxury retail stores like Louis Vuitton Commodore, Balenciaga, Chanel and interior designers like Holly Hunt.
Driving or taking an Uber are the easiest ways to get to this destination, as there’s unfortunately no metro stop nearby. Once you arrive, there are various parking options including contactless on-street parking, garages and valet.
If you’re looking for a quick boost of energy to start the day off right, OTL is a popular café with gluten-free and vegan options that accommodate various dietary preferences. It has everything from chai tea and rotating kombucha flavors to classic iced lattes.
While here, head upstairs to The Office Art Gallery, founded by young art collector Matthew Chevallard. This gallery has polychromatic-themed living room-like spaces that display pieces from emerging artists, creating connections in the art world from America to Miami and Europe. Here, Chevallard incorporates his handmade Italian footwear, Blu Scarpa, into its own blue aesthetic, blending retail and art into one space.
The Galeries Bartoux is hard to miss, drawing attention with its sculptures and art pieces from afar and featuring artists like Fred Allard, James Colomina and Marc Peltzer. Allard, for instance, puts pieces like Nike sneakers and designer purses in crystal cubes, preserving them forever, while Colomina creates his sculptures that resemble small red men from body casts and mixed structures.
The French word for “gardener,” this award-winning spot was designed by architect Pierre- Yves Rochon and follows the artistic atmosphere of the Design District, with its bright, modern interior complimented by green accents. Le Jardinier weaves culinary techniques with art, paying meticulous attention to detail to menu planning and plating. The menu changes seasonally, using fresh produce and promoting a vegetable- forward theme. For $55, you’ll get a three-course lunch.
“We are aiming, as much as possible, to source locally- grown organic produce and use the local ‘terroir’ as a base for our fresh ingredients,” said the culinary director and Michelin- starred chef Alain Verzeroli. “It is key as a chef to be closely following and being in sync with the natural rhythm of nature and seasonality as the base of our menu development, and this is the reason why we established a precious and trustful relationship with our growers and suppliers around us.”
While trends come and go, jeans have remained an essential statement piece, free of closet dust. RE/DONE is a Los Angeles-based brand that is Levi’s only corporate partner. It upcycles Levi’s denim by buying the brand’s jeans in
bulk, then cutting and updating their shapes. It also focuses on American Heritage brands, like Hanes, using their cotton to upcycle clothing pieces into a new collection. They also sell vintage LL Bean Bags and have their own marketplace where they sell untouched vintage Levi’s, books and accessories.
The Baccarat crystal is rich in history, dating back to the 18th century. Its aesthetic is “shaped by the dialogue between heritage and modernity,” as it has been known for its use as a paperweight. In the Baccarat Boutique BBar & Lounge, you can sip on a hot drink, a glass of wine, champagne or even signature cocktails while enjoying a meal. As soon as you step into the building, the team is eager to share the unique history, experiences and knowledge about the brand’s pieces.
From her Fort Lauderdale apartment to a Design District store, Alexandra Grief made her swimwear brand into an international success, featured in publications like Vogue and Marie Claire and worn by celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Jennifer Lopez. MONTCE bikinis are hyper-focused on small details and extensive fit testing. Successful small bussinesses can be rare in the design district, but this swim shop stands strong against the big-name brands in the area.
After a long day walking around the District, a meal at Cote—the only Korean steakhouse in the world to receive a Michelin–star rating for four consecutive years—will hit the spot.
Its design by the architecture studio MNDPC integrates perfectly into the complexity of the Design District. It’s illuminated by trademark bright pink lights, which sets the tone for an exotic yet minimalistic space contrasted by soapstone, brass and wood. A main menu feature is the “Butcher’s Feast,” Wagyu Beef and a choice of sides, including pickled seasonal vegetables and salads.
Aubi & Ramsa
If the heat melted your mood during the day, stop by Aubi & Ramsa, a 21+ ice cream shop where you can get a buzz for dessert. Its alcohol-infused ice cream, originally created by owners Matias Aubi and Rafa Ramsa, adds a unique twist to a classic treat. This parlor offers a wide assortment of flavors and alcohol, a crowd favorite being the vegan passionfruit margarita sorbet with Casamigos tequila.
“The service was amazing,” said UM junior Nicole Guerriero. “The bartender helped me find the perfect flavor based on my alcohol preference so it’s tailored to your specific taste and can be enjoyable for everyone. It was refreshing after being in the sun all day and overall a memorable and unique experience.”
words_daniela calderon. photo_nina d’agostini. design_keagan larkins & cristina ameller.
This article was published in Distraction’s spring 2022 print issue.