Miami developers enlist the help of high end designers and luxury brands for the ultimate in chic real estate collaborations.

Mybrickell
The quirky Mybrickell is a joint effort of Arquitectonica and hip designer Karim Rashid.

The opening earlier this year of Mybrickell (75 SE Sixth St., Miami, 305-442-0055), designed by Karim Rashid in collaboration with Arquitectonica, was more significant than most of the party attendees probably realized. Sure, as one of the first condo towers in Miami to be completed in years, it was a sign of the real estate market’s revival. Yes, it involved a “hip” designer—Rashid—and true, Mybrickell had sold very well. But this quirky, brightly colored tower with moderately priced units was the physical realization that, in Miami, you can’t just throw up a building.

There’s a design one-upmanship movement afoot, and you have to keep up.

Now that architecture is all the rage, the city is benefiting from a broader range of players setting a higher standard than before the last boom and bust. Stemming from Miami’s starchitecture craze, we marked a spike in designer collaborations on new real estate projects. Far beyond just hiring a big-name architect to draw something up, developers are investing heavy resources into elaborate interior and exterior designs by exotic names like Rashid and Pierre-Yves Rochon, who is currently crafting Jade Signature (16901 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-940-0335). Developers are collaborating with auto companies like Porsche at the Porsche Design Tower (18555 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-890-2026) and Pininfarina, the designer of Maseratis, at 1100 Millecento (1100 S. Miami Ave., Miami, 954-829-1447) in Brickell and Beachwalk (2801 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale, 954-457-4488). They’re decking out entire buildings in furniture by Ligne Roset, Fendi Casa (Chateau Ocean), and Baltus (Baltus House, Mybrickell). Every unit in The Mansions at Acqualina (17749 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-933-6666) is being fitted with a $100,000 closet/ dressing room from Ornare.

Porsche Design Tower
At the Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach, living rooms (and sky garages) will offer ocean views.

Fashion designers are getting in the game, too, with the two-towered Armani-branded condo development by The Related Group and Gil Dezer in Sunny Isles Beach, and the recent purchase of the iconic Raleigh Hotel by Tommy Hilfiger himself. The Design District’s reconstruction project has the neighborhood overflowing with collaborations between fashion and architecture. Hilfiger has kept mostly mum about what he plans to do at the Raleigh, beyond giving it an extensive restoration “to its original, chic Art Deco style,” and running it as an exclusive private club and hotel. The very historically conscious fashion designer may just create a world in which his clothes fit the context perfectly, or vice versa.

The biggest development going on in Miami Beach right now, Faena District Miami Beach, is a collaboration on steroids. Its developer, Alan Faena, has collected a flock of architects, artists, designers, and even moviemakers to whip up a Wonderland-like neighborhood out of a section of Miami Beach that was for years in the doldrums. The Faena District will have a hotel, arts center, ultraexpensive condominium tower, cabaret, and a “bazaar.” Hollywood film director Baz Luhrmann and his partner in work and life, Catherine Martin, have taken the helm at the flagship element of the project, the historic Saxony Hotel. The hotel will become the embodiment of the kinds of over-the-top, ultraextraordinary worlds that Luhrmann routinely creates in his movies. Far from a Disney World-like realization of The Great Gatsby or Moulin Rouge!, the hotel will set the tone for Faena’s entire Miami Beach universe. “Faena Miami Beach is a country, with a flag, a coat of arms, and heraldic symbols” designed by Studio Job, Faena has said. “You do in reality what [Martin] and I do in the theater,” Luhrmann tells Faena in a promotional video. “Faena Miami: It’s like it’s a movie, but it’s real.”

A rendering of Faena Saxony Hotel
A rendering of Faena Saxony Hotel, as envisioned by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin.

Up Collins Avenue, the romance of a cinematic Paris has been replaced by the roar of a roadster…. 30 floors up. Gil Dezer worked with the Porsche Design Studio on the Porsche Design Tower, which contains three car elevators that transport you and your vehicle to a sky garage within your unit. As you park just off your living room, windows in the garage offer ocean views before you open your car door. The tower, with its pool-bedecked balconies and on-site mechanic (for basic luxury auto maintenance) is for boys who love their toys and, having struck it rich somewhere or other, finally have the means to realize their inner video game fantasies.

Echo Brickell (1451 Brickell Ave., Miami, 786-360-1904), meanwhile, a 180-unit development by PMG, might top that. The company has partnered with Tesla Motors to give every penthouse owner a fully loaded Tesla Model S. Of course the building will be equipped with charging stations so owners can just “battery up” and go.

These days, decent art in the lobby just isn’t enough. The 47-story Muse (793 NE 125th St., Miami, 305-899-0014), which consists of 68 oceanfront residences, is partnering with world-renowned sculpture artist Helidon Xhixha, who will be conducting one-on-one interviews with buyers and creating personal sculptures, valued at over $500,000, for each unit.

Miami’s new style collaborations indulge the fantasies of residents, hotel guests, or just people on the street. In each instance, outside talent can create something stunning, over the top, or simply beautiful. Either way, it’s fun to watch.

Like what you're reading? Get it delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now for our newsletters >>