The Design District, historically a part of the Buena Vista, is a neighborhood of greater Midtown, Miami, Florida, located just south of Little Haiti. In the past, the district was never noted as anything special. It was a specialty area, a glorified open air strip mall where designers, decorators, buyers and other design industry professionals were able to shop, buy and sell the latest in trending interior goods.
Then, Fifteen years ago, entrepreneur and Miami native Craig Robins “recognized the potential” of the area and began acquiring and “redefining” properties in the area. Soon, an area formerly occupied by warehouses and exclusive-access vendors became occupied by retail boutiques and restaurants.
The design houses remain a fixture in the area, with Holly Hunt, Knoll, Poliform, Luminaire Contract, Waterworks, bulthaup, Ann Sacks, Campaniello/Cassina, British Khaki, Kartell, Poltrona Frau and Alex Turco all within walking distance of each other, but since shopping makes you hungry, restaurants have also begun to spring up throughout the area. The recently closed Sra Martinez, a former staple to the design district, was joined by Michael’s Genuine and Orange Cafe while through the careful organization by Robins himself, the Design District began to juxtapose design brands with “internationally important art collections, phenomenal temporary and permanent art and design installations” while fostering an environment of creativity and luxury.
Now, the area is poised to become Miami’s premier destination for luxury shopping, art and culture. It is a distinctive area of Miami’s new landscape. A place where top of the line retailers Luis Vuitton and Prada sell their wares mere blocks from Bars and venues like the Stage that harbor local artists and is often the site of TEDxMIA talks. The area is ready to continue evolving, with many new works on the way.
“Like all authentic neighborhoods, the Miami Design District continues to evolve: public art installations including the Buckminster Fuller Fly¹s Eye Dome, more amazing shops, restaurants and galleries, and a boutique hotel and residences are all planned.”
The area is roughly bound by North 36 St (US 27) to the south, North 43rd Street to the north, West First Avenue to the west and Biscayne Boulevard to the east.
Things we suggest doing in the DD:
– Luminaire. Regardless of whether you are local or a visiting tourist, Luminaire makes it really easy to shop while on vacation. Using their new e-commerce portal, patrons to the store can purchase items they see in store directly from their cell phones, and have them shipped directly to their homes. With all the amazing things they have, you may end up leaving with a new carafe or inventive wooden bowl heading your way. Luminaire, 3901 Northeast 2nd Avenue Miami, FL 33137
– Cartier, Luis Vuitton, Louboutin & Prada Even if you can’t afford to purchase much more than a keychain at any of these stores, their elaborate in store displays and painted or planted storefronts make it worth the visit. And with the current incarnations of each located walking distance on the same street, its fairly easy to dream big in the District. Prada, Cartier, Christian Louboutin & Louis Vuitton 147-170 Northeast 40 street Miami, FL 33137
– Michael’s. During busier lunch breaks, it may take you a moment to get a seat, but the relaxed atmosphere of the Design District’s most well known restaurant will make you quickly forget it.
Michael’s Genuine, 130 Northeast 40th Street Miami, FL 33137
– Orange Cafe & Art. If you’re in a hurry and looking for lighter fare, this is the spot for you. Orange Cafe’s signature sandwiches are all named after famous painters. You’ll fall in love with the Warhol, the Michelangelo or the Monet, all served to you by some of the nicest people in Miami.
Orange Cafe & Art 2 NE 40th Street Miami, Florida 33137
– Mandolin Aegean Bistro This quaint little restaurant may be a little out of the way, but tucked into the heart of Buena Vista is serves up the most authentic Aegean food in a restaurant that looks like it sprung up in someone’s backyard. With all the Greek charm they could fit into the small venue, the open air dining and small dishes made for sharing invite diners to bring friends and hang out to enjoy the weather.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro 4312 Northeast 2nd Avenue Miami, Florida 33137
CULTURE & ENTERTAINMENT:
– Primary Projects Primary Projects is a multidisciplinary project space and art gallery, which aims to explore and promote multiple forms of aesthetic expression from established and emerging artists. Showing often interesting contemporary pieces and installations, Primary Projects is often the place to find exceptionally well curated shows throughout the year.
Primary Projects 4141 NE 2nd Ave., #104, Miami, Florida 33137
– Locust Projects With more than 65 exhibitions, representing more than 210 local, national, and international artists, Locust Projects has supported site-specific and installation artworks featuring photography, video, sculpture, drawing, painting and digital media. In their current location, they are constantly showcasing some amazing work. Check their website for current showings.
Locust Projects, 3852 North Miami Avenue Miami, FL 33127
– The Moore Building Built in 1921 as the furniture showroom space for Moore and Sons, the Moore building showcases beautiful architecture from the time. But what makes the building remarkable is the site specific installation by Iraqi-born London-based architect, Zaha Hadid “Elastika” which creates an old meets new feeling that leaves a remarkable impression
The Moore Building 4040 NE 2nd AveMiami, FL 33137
For more information on the Design District, visit the area’s website which includes complete store listings and maps.