Miami's Design District, unusual architecture

In the Miami Design District, forget your bikini and step into a sophisticated place that welcomes fashion, art and architecture with open arms. The district is home to contemporary art, avant-garde galleries and trendy restaurants. Located north of Wynwood and Midtown, the area has been visually breathtaking since the early 2000s thanks to architect Craig Robins. Today, the neighbourhood fascinates with immersive art and cultural experiences and entertains art lovers with free community events. Not-to-be-missed events include the Miami Design District Performance Series, a public concert held twice a month. This creative zone is a veritable 'Instagrammable' open-air museum that delights culture aficionados with over 80 shops and 70 interior design and fashion showrooms.

The Museum Garage is right in the heart of the Design District.

- © YES Market Media / Shutterstock

The history of the district

Art has always been part of the Design District landscape, but it really came into its own in the 2000s with developer and philanthropist Craig Robins, the founder of Dacra, a commercial property company. Robins saw an abandoned blank canvas and infused all the facades with art. He proposed a complete refurbishment of the buildings and invited top-of-the-range design and fashion houses. Contemporary artists have left their mark. Among the big names in the luxury sector is LVMH, which has made its contribution with haute couture boutiques and luxury watchmakers. Since its rebirth by Robins, the place has painted an eclectic and colourful picture that is sure to delight the eye.

Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome, at the entrance to Palm Court in the Design District.

- © lazyllama / Shutterstock

Where can you enjoy free art in the neighbourhood? Everywhere is a delight for all the senses! Art installations are ubiquitous on every street corner, as well as in private art galleries and museums. Among the most sought-after works is Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye, a prototype of the geodesic dome surrounded by palm trees at Palm Court. The artistic itinerary continues with Sol LeWitt's garden of sculptures and a canvas of hanging chairs by German designer Konstantin Grcic.

On the museum side, Miami's Institute of Contemporary Art (free admission) focuses on art exchange and experimentation. It is well worth a visit for its state-of-the-art building and its local and international contemporary artists. Another free museum is the De La Cruz private collection, which showcases works by international artists and organises summer workshops and lectures.

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French artist Xavier Veilhan's fiberglass sculpture of architect Le Corbusier writing on the floor.

- © Olga V Kulakova / Shutterstock

Less contemporary but just as interesting is a visit to the Haitian Heritage Museum, which focuses on Haitian arts, culture and history.

Many people are attracted by the beautiful windows of luxury boutiques such as Prada, Balenciaga, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Céline - the list goes on. The district is also known as the home of some of the world's top fashion houses. Recently, more affordable brands such as Lower East Coast, Sephora and Reformation have moved into the area.

🍴 Where to eat?

After shopping, it's time to nibble! The Miami Design District is a great place to tantalise the taste buds and explore restaurants. In 2007, local chef Michael Schwartz set the tone with his bistro cuisine at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. Here you can eat oysters, ceviche and crispy pork. After that, culinary experimentation exploded in the district, which welcomed new concepts from chefs and restaurateurs.

art meets luxury in the streets of the Design District

- © Olga V Kulakova / Shutterstock

At Palm Court, you can dine under the stars with a Peruvian-Japanese menu at Itamae, have a good Korean steakhouse delivered to Clubby or enjoy a delicious dish at Swan & Bar Bevy. The latter is a concept that brings together a restaurant and a lounge by the singer Pharrell Williams and David Grutman, accompanied by the famous French chef Jean Imbert.

Finally, for the more indecisive, head for the MIA market. This is a rather popular eatery with a dozen different culinary concepts, each headed up by a chef. There's a vegetarian corner and an Italian restaurant, as well as homemade tacos, sushi and southern-style dishes. There's something for everyone.

👉 Did you know?

The Design District was once a former village, called Buena Vista Village, annexed by Miami in the early 20th century. It then became a small tropical district. A stroll through the area will plunge you into a completely wooded world. A change of scenery is guaranteed. We recommend the bohemian Upper Buena Vista shopping centre.

Practical info

The Miami Design District is accessible all year round, and offers a wealth of events and activities. To get there, a car is essential, but the area is also well served by bus from Miami Beach and Downtown.

by Faustine PEREZ
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The Art Deco district: the city's most emblematic district
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