The Cozy-Chic New Ocean House
by jordan melnick
The 100 block of Ocean Drive is undoubtedly the land of Myles Chefetz. The restaurateur owns Prime One Twelve, one of the highest-grossing restaurants in the country and a favorite spot of Dwyane Wade and other A-listers; Prime Italian; and Prime Hotel—all of which are located on the block’s south end.
But while Chefetz has stamped his footprint on the coveted corner South of Fifth, interior designer Alison Antrobus has her fingerprints all over it, having designed Chefetz’s three Prime locations, as well as the new Ocean House, an 18-unit luxury condo located at 125 Ocean Drive.
Chefetz owns the penthouse at Ocean House and hired Antrobus to design it. Her Miami Beach-based firm, Antrobus Design Co., then landed the commission to design the entire development—a project that began in February 2011 and ended in May of this year.
Antrobus’s approach to the Ocean House design was literal: She envisioned the entire multiunit development as a single house on the ocean. Thus, the light-filled lobby, with its original terrazzo floor, white couches, white piano, Patricia Urquiola wicker chairs, and globe-cluster chandelier, serves as the house’s “living room.” The low-lit corridor that connects the lobby to the rear of the building is the house’s “private library,” lined with bronze-laminate shelving for books (carefully curated by subject) and various objets d’art (ancient pottery, bleached sea specimens, African masks, etc.). The building’s entertainment room, complete with 103-inch television and cream-colored billiard table, is tailored for the hypothetical king of the house, while there’s a hair salon for its hypothetical queen (bring your own stylist).
Antrobus continued the “house-as-home” concept with Ocean House’s back patio, which, in addition to a zero-entry pool and poolside lounge furniture, has an outdoor kitchen and isolated open-air beds amid the lantern-lit shrubbery, plus a fire pit in the back.
Overall, a modern décor with marine inspirations prevails in the building’s common areas. As for Ocean House’s actual homes—its 18 individual condo units priced between $5 million and $10 million, each of which has an ocean-view terrace— Antrobus went with an open floor plan that allows light to flood through the space.
The culmination of the Ocean House design marks a new phase in Antrobus’s life and career. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1971, she lived in Barbados before enrolling in a Massachusetts boarding school and then the Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and interior design. After graduation, she worked in an Atlanta architecture firm for a spell and then moved to Miami, where, in 2000, she started her own firm.
One of Antrobus’s biggest Miami projects was working under renowned French designer Philippe Starck on the design of Icon Brickell, a three-tower complex in the Financial District. Antrobus counts her experience with Starck as a game changer in her career.
“I had the privileged opportunity of working side by side with him for a few years, literally designing projects one-on-one with him,” she says. “In some strange way, it was not the literal things about his style that influenced me but rather an attitude toward design and life in general that has changed the way I work.”
Specifically, Antrobus says Starck taught her not to take her work “so seriously.” In following that advice, however, she did not tamp down her professional ambition. In addition to her various interior design projects, she went on to design a line of handbags; the Antrobus Bag contains slide-out drawers, for women like herself who want a fashionable and neat way to take their work utensils on the go. This was not out of the blue for Antrobus, who aspired to be a fashion designer growing up. With a patent for the line of bags under her belt, she says she is now looking to license it to a major handbag brand.
Antrobus is also working on a book about bathrooms, slated to come out next year, which she says are her favorite rooms to design. “It’s where your day begins and ends.”
That said, Antrobus still has big ambitions as a designer. Her dream commission, she says, is the quintessential South Beach venue. “I’m dying to do a nightclub—it’s everything times 10.”
photography courtesy of ocean house (rotato, patio, interior); by Jairo Mendez (antrobus)
Get a glimpse behind the scenes at Krysten Ritter's Ocean Drive cover shoot.