A Day with Interior Designer Hernan Arriaga
By Jon Warech
As a jet-setting interior designer, Hernan Arriaga travels all over the globe honing his craft, a curator for the uppermost echelon of society who also adds one-of-a-kind artifacts for his own collection. He has worked with South American aristocrats, Saudi princes, and American celebrities, but for Arriaga, style starts at home in Miami.
Residing high above the Miami skyline 22 floors up, Arriaga awakens at 7 am to see the city that he loves, nearly in its entirety from his Brickell condominium. After a luxurious sleep on the white oak bed he bought while on a trip to Milan, not only does he have his bed made immediately, but the sheets are ironed to crisp perfection. On most days, he’ll dress head to toe in Tom Ford, with a Cartier Santos or Cartier Roadster watch, spray on Black Orchid, and hit the road in his Cadillac Escalade escorted by his driver, Emerson—the Alfred to Arriaga’s Batman. Even if he’s not meeting a client, he will leave the house very well put together, since “my personal image is the first thing I focus on every day,” he says. That image is what people all around the world pay for.
A noon power lunch is often the center of Arriaga’s schedule. Today he’s off to meet Kelly Rowland at Mandolin Aegean Bistro, where they’ll discuss design over octopus, his favorite dish. His best work, though, happens at home, where he can put his panache on display. Clients can see his 16th-century paintings, petrified seaweeds, ornaments from a 17th-century French building, a painting from Quinquela Martin, and a pair of Jean-Michel Frank chairs, and know that his love for historical artifacts fuels the level of his craft. “My house is my biggest showcase,” Arriaga says. “It is there where I entertain my clients and I allow them to experience not only my personal taste but essentially the impeccable flow of my work.”
Arriaga never shies away from a party, but you’re more likely to see him out and about in New York or Milan than in Miami, where he prefers a more low-key evening of tea or coffee with his model friends. But even teatime is stylish for Arriaga, who sips mate from Argentina out of a small bowl and through a straw. “In order for anybody to stand out and be unique, all you have to do is look into yourself and find your greatest gift, recognize what you have been born to do, and run after it for the rest of your life,” he says.