When The Standard Spa, Miami Beach opened eleven years ago, Miami looked very different from the city it is today. South Beach was the heartbeat of Miami’s culture, with its eccentric mix of art deco architecture, scantily dressed beach goers, glitzy night life, and loud music pumping through the night. Since then, the city has gone through a radical cultural evolution and has become one of the most significant design and art hubs in the world, and The Design District is at the center of this nucleus of change. Located on the other side of the bridges leading to South Beach, this neighborhood holds some of the city's greatest design showrooms, galleries, museums, shops, restaurants, and cafés. We explored every corner of the bourgeoning area to narrow down our favorite spots.
Institute of Contemporary Art, MiamiAs one of the Design District’s main art institutions, ICA Miami dedicates itself to continued experimentation in contemporary art. What exactly makes the ICA so singular? It provides a unique, international platform for emerging local and under-recognized artists within an ever-changing exhibition and program calendar that seeks to reflect the cultural and artistic landscape of both local and international creatives. Oh, and it's free. December 1, 2017 marks the launch of ICA Miami’s new, permanent home featuring 20,000 square feet of multifaceted exhibition space and a 15,000 square foot sculpture garden.
De la Cruz CollectionMiami’s de la Cruz Collection is the result of billionaire art lovers opening their private collection to the world and transforming it into one of Miami’s most impressive art institutes. Cuban collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz are among the patrons seeking to make Miami an intellectual art capital. Their 30,000-square-foot contemporary art space acts as an extension of their home, housing their vast collection of sculptures, paintings, and installations by the most sought after artists of today. Their nurturing, artistic vision gives way to a flux of exhibitions that turn the cultural lens on itself; alongside artist-led workshops, forums, and lectures that bring awareness to the vast interpretations of the visual arts. Like the ICA, it's free to the public.
Locust ProjectsImagine art freed from the constraints of sales and gallery fees, where artists can fully experiment and express themselves outside the limitations of conventional exhibition spaces. Locust Projects makes this dream a reality for artists. Once finding its roots in a converted warehouse space, they have evolved into one of Miami’s top art institutions with the backing of the Andy Warhol Foundation. Local and international artists are invited to create ambitious site-specific projects and installations as an extension of their personal work.
Swampspace GalleryThis alternative, artist-run creative space and venue is Miami’s un-gallery, and was founded when artist and sculptor Oliver Sanchez welcomed artists into his unused studio space. In response to the need for community-based art spaces, Swampspace puts forth innovative visual and performance arts to create unique experiences that walk the line between sophistication and raw, unraveled ingenuity. It is certain to quench the palates of thirsting art enthusiasts from all perspectives and backgrounds.
Primary ProjectsThis multifaceted organization defies the constraints of the classic gallery construct. Primary Projects offers a platform for edgy, artistic expression from both established and up-and-coming creatives within and outside gallery walls. A refreshing break from the commercialization of galleries, their, at times, controversial and gritty street aesthetics challenge our current conceptions of contemporary art by fostering group and solo projects that fluctuate from the forbidden to the sublime.
Buckminster Fuller Fly's Eye Dome, 1978-2014The creation of this interactive sculpture, dubbed the “autonomous dwelling machine” by its original creator, spans decades. American architect and designer Buckminster Fuller patented the design in the '60s and died before it was ever finished. Over 50 years later, Fuller’s vision was realized. The 24-foot prototype, considered a forerunner for today’s green architecture movement, sits at the center of the Design District as a focal point of inspiration.
Konstantin Grcic's Netscape, 2010/2014German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic's interactive installation makes you feel suspended from a metal cobweb entangled in tropical vines. His innovative design invites you into a moment of calm away from the overwhelming density of the Design District. Relax, sit back, and gently swing in Grcic’s hammock-like wire seats delicately suspended from a six-point metal structure. Just a warning: It might be hard to get up again.
Xavier Veilhan's Le Corbusier, 2013This is where you go to get your dose of Corbusier loving surrealism. The endless complexity of the artist’s personal life, ripe with passion and controversy, has been encapsulated in a larger-than-life "bust" executed by French artist Xavier Veilhan. He challenges the balance between simplicity and scale, depicting the iconic Corbusier with pen in hand, representing the act of drawing as the perfect bridge between the prolific artist’s multifaceted passions of architecture, drawing, writing, and design.
Zaha Hadid's Elastika, 2005The Elastika installation was commissioned after the late architect, Zaha Hadid, was given the first ever "Designer of the Year" award. As a representation of Hadid’s endless contribution to the realm of design, her web-like installation stretches across the atrium of the multi-storied Moore building. Hadid’s signature organically flowing aesthetics offers a beautiful contrast with the building’s art deco roots. It is the ultimate extrusion of the complex, spacial concepts like connectivity and fluidity that are so inherent within her architectural creations.
Luminaire LabThis pioneering force within the design world deviates from the traditional showroom, serving as an experimental playground and bringing together innovative creatives with contemporary design solutions. Luminaire Lab pushes the boundaries of modern design thinking within the context of its two-story, 7,500-square-foot exhibition and events space.
NiBa HomeThis eclectic art-meets-design boutique offers an rich collection of fine furnishings, lighting, and colorful accessories that brings true character and singular style to a space. NiBa Home's selection of notable designers, artists, and emerging talents is where you turn to when you’re looking for that truly singular piece meant to stand out. Wallflower design seekers, look elsewhere.
En AvanceThis pioneering Miami boutique has been around for a quarter of a century, taking root in Miami Beach before opening as one of the first retailers in the Design District. En Avance showcases a carefully curated mix of international designers, home decor, fine jewelry, and fragrances. This is the place to find timeless, handpicked treasures.
Mrkt DeuxThis beautifully executed, modern and minimalist boutique might be targeted toward men, but any gender can be tempted by their trendy selection of clothing, shoes, and shades. Go for goods by designers like Raf Simons, Enfants Riches Déprimés, Y-3, Rick Owens X Adidas, Public School, and more.
EAT + DRINK
FufiCraving tacos, empanadas, and pizza with the freshest ingredients? Fufi’s casual atmosphere is the perfect place for you. It also has gluten-free and vegan options to boot. Go for a great collection of munchies, beers, and wines set to the tune of killer music and chill vibes.
OTLThis community hang-out is located at the center of the Miami Design District, and it's a perfect spot after a day of art and design exploration or for breakfast before you set out. Coffees in all their manifestations, breakfast foods, sandwiches, pastries, and wines are offered inside OTL’s airy and minimalist space. The two-story, 7,000-square-foot restaurant and café also features an upstairs space for workshops and designer pop-ups. And there’s “ultra high-speed” internet for those bringing their laptops as their lunch dates.
Mandolin AegeanThis bistro brings together the stories of love and the Aegean heritage of husband and wife team Ahmet Erkaya and Anastasia Koutsioukis, turning out recipes from their homelands of Turkey and Greece. A trip to Miami led them to discover the 1940s bungalow where they have executed their dream of serving simple, unpretentious, and healthy food in a welcoming family atmosphere.
MC KitchenIf you’re looking for white tablecloths and salad forks, this is the place. MC Kitchen is located in the heart of the Design District, literally inside the 4141 warehouse space—home to dozens of design showrooms and boutiques. MC Kitchen’s modern, “green” Italian cuisine prioritizes ingredients chosen based on quality, harvest maturity, and farming integrity.
Michael’s Genuine Food & DrinkThis friendly neighborhood bistro is built on the foundations of seasonal cooking. The open kitchen creates an energetic and immersive environment, making for a truly unique dining experience. Think welcoming servers and smiling chefs cooking away in front of blazing pizza ovens and behind a mountain of fresh oysters. There’s also a courtyard with café vibes and orchids growing on trees.
Crumb on ParchmentThis bakery and café is the brainchild of award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein (along with the help of her mom, who comes in regularly to bake some of the cafés most popular cakes and pies). The eclectic space, imbued with cozy, shabby-chic country vibes offers breakfast and lunch options alongside an array of pastries, snacks, and fueling drinks. If you’re looking for daytime comfort food, sweet fixes, or some of the best grilled cheeses in Miami, this is the place.