MIAMI — It isn’t enough to have a store here these days. Fashion brands, especially those with home and design arms, are collaborating with local real estate developers for immersive residential properties where no DNA detail escapes the eye. The Residences by Armani/Casa, which feted its grand reveal with a 600-person party and runway presentation of Giorgio Armani’s spring 2020 collections for men and women on Friday, takes the trend to heart.
“I am very pleased that the ambitious Residences by Armani/Casa project in Miami, in collaboration with Dezer Development and Related Group, has been completed,” said Armani, who wasn’t be in attendance. “I am definitively happy with the result, which is one of the largest projects the Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio has ever undertaken, and the first of its magnitude in the U.S.”
The late architect César Pelli designed the 56-story tower in Sunny Isles Beach, a speck of a condo corridor just north of Bal Harbour. Due to Armani/Casa’s signature restraint, photos of its interiors for the common areas don’t do them justice. There are no loud graphic prints or shiny Jeff Koons’ sculptures. One must see them firsthand to understand their luxury, which is told in tactile terms and nuances versus color and hollow Instagram moments.
Silk walls in neutrals and a pale palm print are exposed — a nightmare for neatniks — or sandwiched between backlit glass in water-prone zones like the spa. The wine-tasting room and adjoining cigar bar feature handcrafted, bronze lacquer with a custom, linen-like texture, while the private Italian restaurant’s technical textiles shimmer. A gemologist oversaw the quarrying of Siena silver travertino and Brazilian emerald quartzite, whose slabs were laid out overseas, numbered and reassembled for seamless veining that flows up and down walls and corridors. There are no corners but abundant curves and reveals.
“It feels like the building is a piece of art,” said Jon Paul Pérez, executive vice president of Related Group, which is known for incorporating museum-quality artworks into projects. “In the eyes of the Armani/Casa team, the design is the art. But having them together with Pelli and Enzo Enea, who did the landscaping, is like having paintings by Picasso, Basquiat and Alex Katz. It’s rare to have so many of the best in the industry.”
Working with Armani/Casa came at a premium. Pérez estimates common areas, which occupy two floors and more than 30,000 square feet rather than the typical single story, totaled a minimum of 50 percent more than previous Related properties. Armani/Casa’s required partners for lighting and bath fixtures increased the category’s budget by 20 percent.
“There was no such thing as value engineering. We gave them an open book, and it shows,” he said.
Gil Dezer, president of Dezer Development, was bowled over by many of the Armani/Casa team’s design suggestions. But the one that really got him for its characteristically Italian decadence was their insistence on doors that directly link residences’ foyers to master bedrooms’ walk-in closets.
“Who knew Italians like to change immediately out of their work clothes when they walk in the door?” he said.
Dezer, who also developed the nearby Porsche Design Tower with personal sky garages, gets a kick out of the extravagance. Padding around the tower in scuffed Toms, he was interrupted nonstop by construction crews and real estate agents while divulging tidbits. A soaring Lualdi door, whose solid heft requires two hands to open, cost $4,000. He joked that it basically leads to nowhere and then about the private, second lobby’s custom, circular sectionals, which cost $800,000. There are multiple examples of this attention to detail that are easily missed. During the tour, Dezer paused in a hand-painted anteroom for the fitness center’s bathroom.
“I always judge a place by its bathrooms,” he said, having discovered Armani/Casa’s hospitality knack through the Armani Hotel in Dubai. “The Residences are like a luxury hotel except without the transients, and everybody here is someone you should know.”
A week before the party, 270 of the 308 units had sold, and owners were beginning the process of converting their vanilla boxes into dream homes. Located in the most desirable line on the 38th floor, the showroom model overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, Miami skyline and guitar-shaped Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. But Dezer knows it takes more than views, even ones that show the earth’s curvature, to entice people to move here from established neighborhoods like Miami Beach’s South of Fifth, and to compete against buildings by Zaha Hadid and Bjarke Ingels.
“You have to give them this level of quality,” he said.