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miami guide pt. 2: design district + biscayne blvd

by Grace Bonney

well, today we’re still going through some growing pains with the new server, but i hope to have all the kinks worked out by the end of the week. so thank you for putting up with the slow loading until we find the right sized package to handle traffic. i thought we had enough, but looks like we didn’t. so hopefully the new size will work. fingers crossed.

so, if the site will load for you, you’re now looking at today’s city guide: miami part 2! d*s reader kendra rounded up some of the area’s best shops and destinations so i hope you’ll enjoy the the guide!

CLICK HERE for the full Miami Guide, Part Two (click here for the Miami Guide, Part One)

The Design District

I sometimes compare artists to urban bees, finding a worn down neighborhood, pollinating it, watching it blossom and then moving to the next neighborhood. With the renaissance of Miami Beach, and the accompanying rent spikes, artists and designers have moved off the beach and the Design District has finally found a chance to shine.

Making up less than 8 square blocks, the Design District is not your usual commercial enclave for the rich and famous and you will not find opulence and commercialized shopping spaces. In fact, you will find quite the opposite. Minimalist and urban, the District defines gentrified chic for the 21st century.

Reflecting a global design presence, the Design District has attracted some
powerhouse design names. While I try to focus on non-chain stores to highlight here, I would be remiss to not mention the prominent names such as Vitra, Holly Hunt, Waterworks, Janus et Cie, Haus Scape, Hulsta, The Rug Company, Ann Sacks and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Together with the stores mentioned below, the District has become a world class design destination and a reflection of Miami’s mix of artists and innovators drawing inspiration from cultures across the globe.

Susane R. Lifestyle Boutique, 93 NE 40th St. — Susane Ronai envisions her boutique to be more than just a store, rather it is a lifestyle destination with a mix of furniture, art and jewelry that “surprise” with their beauty and timeless style. Her store reflects her eclectic tastes where pieces from Paris, Africa and Indonesia stand side by side in beautiful harmony. Be sure to check out her collection of reproduction chairs that draw inspiration from the likes of Dorothy Draper and the elegance of the 1940s.

Driade, 4141 NE 2nd Ave., St 115 — The only US outpost of the Italian design house, Driade is a must visit for anyone who appreciates modern design.

Luminare, 3901 NE 2nd Ave. – This South Florida based company carries modern European furniture, lighting and accessories from top design names like Bib Italia, MDF, Edra, Boffi, Porro & Moroso and many others. Luminare aims to be more than a showroom, rather it is a playground for pushing the boundaries of your style and finding pieces that enrich your living spaces.

Adriana Hoyos, 180 NE 40th St. — This Colombian designer has created a gorgeous furniture line using natural elements and warm tones inspired by her experiences in Latin America. Her sideboards and credenzas are especially drool worthy.

Oriental Décor, 108 NE 39th St. — Forget cheap street dealer knock-offs; for design quality Asian accessories, visit this import shop on 39th St. Oriental Décor stocks a large selection of Asian planters, Foo dogs, intricately carved statues, jade dragons and a large selection of screen room dividers from all over the Far East.

Riad Zahra Moroccan Design, 116 NE 39th St. — Next door to Oriental Décor, Riad Zahra carries high end Moroccan and Middle Eastern Furnishings and Accessories. A perfect place to find unique outdoor lanterns and table top centerpieces.

Luxe Cable and Light, 1 NE 40th St. #1 — This specialty shop offers a great selection of lamps and lighting products from top designers and the staff can help you design a tailored lighting plan for your home’s unique needs.

Casa Furnishings, 3900 NE 1st Ave. – Casa specializes in contemporary outdoor furnishings and accessories. Have a great patio set, but the cushions have seen better days? Casa can also create custom cushions for both indoor and outdoor use.

Niba Home, — Colorful decorative accessories line the shelves of this trendy boutique run by Nisi Berryman. Her design aesthetic incorporates bold color settings and pairs old with the new to create an “electric beach” style.

Threadcount, 125 NE 40th St. — The softest bath towels you will ever feel! Threadcount specializes in the fine linens, bedding and bath towels in a rainbow of colors and patterns.

Jalan Jalan, 3921 NE 2nd Ave. – The fresh and airy interiors of this shop reflect an instinctive understanding of organic design. I was drawn to the plush sofas paired with bold Asian accent furniture. Look for Indonesian mirrors accented by intricate mother of pearl frames and driftwood accent pieces. Carefully paired textures in neutral tones and a keen eye for collecting beautiful pieces from around the world make this an unofficial “anchor store” of the Design District.

Where to Eat in the Design District:

Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, 130 NE 40th St. — Delicious and inventive, chef Michael Schwartz’s new restaurant is a local favorite, packing in many satisfied diners. Try the sautéed sweetbread or the wood roasted sweet onion stuffed with lamb and apricots.

Grass, 28 NE 40th St. — Is it grass? Is it a topiary garden? Can the words tiki bar and chic fit in the same sentence? At Grass they manage to do all of the above. Al fresco diners make the most of Miami’s excellent weather at this restaurant that is admittedly more about the atmosphere, but still manages to serve up great food. A great place to start your evening with drinks and appetizers.

Brosia, 163 NE 39th St. — Mediterranean cuisine and tapas served in an open air courtyard. At night twinkling tree lights dance off the ocean blue tiled walls. The Mediterranean Meza platter and the lobster ravioli are local favorites.

Fratelli Lyon, 4141 NE 2nd Avenue – New to the Design District and an extension of the Driade store, this Italian eatery has quickly gained a local following. A great place to down some pasta as you try out that Driade dining set.

Design District Shopping:

Marni, 3930 NE 2nd Ave, Ste 100, — A cutting edge fashion designer just opened this shop in the District. Find gorgeous shoes, silk skirts and tailored blouses in this sophisticated high end boutique.

En Avance, 161 NE 40th St., — Ultra chic men’s and women’s clothing. Find labels like Jasmine Di Milo, Band of Outsiders, Robert Rodriguez, Sue London and many more. Also be sure to check out the all natural mineral make up line, La Bella Donna, and their many fragrance and body products.

Y-3, 150 NE 40th St., — Yohji Yamamoto’s design showcase includes modern sportswear apparel, accessories and footwear.

Further Afield:

Sharon Lewis, 1601 NE 2nd Ave. — Contemporary designer Sharon Lewis makes it easy by providing a “soup to nuts” design showcase. Clean lines and white furnishings with subtle pops of color dominate her elegant showroom and shoppers can pick out everything from custom sofas and window treatments to table top accessories and ceramics.

Las Tias, 2834 North Miami Ave. — Just south of the Design District, in Wynwood, Las Tias carries an eclectic mix of vintage furniture, clothing, art and accessories. Their eye-catching window vignettes are a welcome sight on an industrial stretch of North Miami Ave. Inside, their diverse taste can be seen in the mix of Victorian headboards and Mid Century dining sets.

Also Don’t Miss:

The Wynwood Art District, — Don’t be fooled by the windowless industrial buildings, for on the second Saturday of each month Wynwood’s large community of artists open their studios to the public. The Wynwood Art Walk is quickly becoming a Miami tradition as locals sip wine while hopping from studio to studio perusing (and purchasing) works by tomorrow’s leading artists.

Design Miami – If you are in Miami in the first week of December, don’t miss Design Miami. Timed to coincide with Art Basel, the world renowned art fair that bounces between Basel, Switzerland and Miami each year, Design Miami showcases the artisans and designers at the forefront of their field, each pushing the boundaries of the materials we use, the way we envision our living spaces and our interaction with the living spaces in which we dwell.

Biscayne Boulevard

Biscayne Boulevard is not so hard to find. Much like a river making its slow course to sea, US 1 begins in Kent, Maine at the Canadian border and follows some 2,000 miles of US coastline all the way to the Key West. Biscayne Boulevard is the name given to US 1 as it stretches through Miami, beginning at the Broward County line and ending just north of Downtown.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Miami was little more than a pit-stop town on the road to the beach. Yet, Biscayne Blvd. began to thrive as motel after motel popped up eager to serve the passing motor tourists. The futuristic Jetson’s meets 1950s Vegas style became known as Miami Modernist (MiMO) architecture. Sadly, with increased air tourism and the completion of I-95, Biscayne Blvd. entered a period of long decline. For years, the buildings were relegated to seedier business pursuits and the flow of tourists dwindled.

Happily, what is old can often be made new again and, thanks to a few visionary pioneers, the revitalization of the area is drawing a number of chefs, designers and entrepreneurs. While the transformation is far from complete, today the MiMO Historic District (MIMO) is a bustling destination drawing visitors and locals alike with its new businesses and historic charm.

Michel Contessa, 8650 Biscayne Blvd. #12 – With a fine eye for quality and detail, Michel Contessa showcases a beautiful selection of mid century modern furniture. Look for beautifully refurbished Louis XVI style Bergeres and French Deco chairs and accents. Also check out his collection on 1st Dibs.

M.A.D.E., 8330 Biscayne Blvd. – Unassuming and easy to miss while driving, the Miami Antiques and Design Expo or M.A.D.E. is a treasure trove for those in the know. A large space houses more than 12 antique and mid-century dealers. Look for fois bois side tables and murano lamps, Plycraft and Knoll chairs as well as freshly lacquered campaign desks and credenzas. Easily one of the best sources for home furnishings in Miami.

Sabine Danenberg Antiques, 8300 Biscayne Blvd. — If you are looking for dining chairs or a sideboard – this is your pot at the end of the rainbow. Sabina’s collection is simply spectacular and with penchant for refurbishing in modern colors and textiles, a dining chair set from her collection will add creativity and grace to any dining room.

Tyler Galleries, 6914 Biscayne Blvd. — A museum quality collection of 17th, 18th, and 19h century antiques from around the globe can be found at this unobtrusive gallery on Biscayne Blvd. The gorgeous details – inlaid wood, French marble — and near mint condition of these furnishings demand hefty prices, but if you are looking for the real deal…this is the place to visit.

Deco Dreams, 8650 Biscayne Blvd., Suite #3– The name says it all, Deco Dreams showcases antiques and accessories from the Art Deco Era. Find one of a kind French and German Deco pieces in mint condition. New to the Deco design style? Yves Fuller, the gallery’s proprietor, will inspire new appreciation for this era with his vast knowledge and friendly demeanor.

Chantik Imports, 6671 Biscayne Blvd. — Tucked into the corner of a strip mall just off Legion Park, Chantik Imports carries Balinese accessories and hand crafted furniture. Shop for tribal masks, woven baskets and hand carved Balinese house fronts that have been repurposed as room dividers. A must visit store for any who favor Far Eastern décor.

Glo, 5050 Biscayne Blvd. – When two former Pan Am employees hung up their uniforms, they opened Glo; a boutique that specializes in Scandinavian furniture and lighting collected during their years of travel. A paradise for those who crave all things Mid Century. Also look for their pieces on 1st Dibs.

Planet Lighting, 5120 Biscayne Blvd. — Commercial, residential, specialty – Planet Lighting carries more than 300 brands and stocks specialty bulbs and lighting accessories. Automatic discounts of up to 25 percent and a 35 percent discount to the trade: this is a one stop shop for any lighting needs!

Open Doors, 7300 Biscayne Blvd. — It is lovely to find a store dedicated to providing contemporary indoor and outdoor furniture using sustainable materials like bamboo, abaca and farm grown teak. Their collection would fit well into Bahamian plantation houses and the modern accessories add a polished touch to the organic materials. I fell in love with their collection of sofas!

Casca Doce, 6815 Biscayne Blvd. – A contemporary design studio with hip furnishings, lighting and accessories for the urban home. Casca Doce’s pieces hail from all over the world and would add a cosmopolitan finish to any home.

Details at Home, 5046 Biscayne Blvd. — The name is indicative of the store and one will find many beautiful furnishings and accessories to add those details that personalize a home. Owner Perry Tortorelli graciously pairs vintage with new, creating inspired vignettes that are both imaginative and welcoming. Their move from Miami Beach to Biscayne Blvd. further bolsters the rejuvenation of the area and, with plans to expand their clothing line and create an outdoor café, Details will soon be right at home.

Kom Furniture and Accessories, 2400 Biscayne Blvd., — Kom is a full service contemporary and transitional interior design firm. Their large gallery carries everything from furnishings to window treatments to table top accessories. Unique to Kom is their great ability to layer textures and their skill in pairing unusual materials with clean lined furniture. Shop here for custom tables, petrified wood topped coffee tables and mother of pearl and leather finishes.

Biscayne Shopping:

The Legion Park and Vagabond Motel Farmer’s Markets, — Downtown Miami took many years to warm to the idea of a farmer’s market. Yet, a little more than one year ago, a determined group set up their tents at the entrance to Legion Park (6630 Biscayne Blvd.). Shoppers can buy fresh produce, locally grown orchids and stone crabs in season. Stroll to the newly opened Vagabond Farmer’s market (7301 Biscayne Blvd.) merely 7 blocks to the north. According to urban legend, Frank Sinatra used to frequent the bar of the Vagabond Motel during its heyday in the 1950s. Today, the Vagabond has seen a rebirth and new owner, Eric Silverman, is reviving the landmark with a small farmer’s market and plans for a book store and vintage clothing shop.

Rebel, 6669 Biscayne Blvd — Find fashion forward clothing labels (Black Halo, Mara Hoffman), accessories and personal care products at this hip space on the Boulevard.

Una Luna Boutique, 6907 Biscayne Blvd. — The product of two Argentinean fashion designers, Una Luna specializes in boldly patterned dresses in unbelievably flattering styles. Their friendly staff makes this the perfect place to find a dress for a tropical getaway destination.

Julian Chang Couture Inc, 6667 Biscayne Blvd. – Shop Julian Chang for expertly tailored fashion pieces in brocade and patterned silk fabrics. If you are in the market, Julian Chang also creates gorgeous couture dresses.

Divine Trash, 7244 Biscayne Blvd. — Vintage clothing, costume jewelry and a modest collection of used furniture make this small, urban thrift shop a fun place to visit on a weekend stroll of the Boulevard.

Downtown Divas, 1800 Biscayne Blvd., — Find slinky summer dresses and Miami inspired club wear at this new Boutique near the Performing Arts Center.

Biscayne Dining:

Michy’s, 6927 Biscayne Blvd. – Wow! Wow! Wow! Chef Michelle Bernstein’s restaurant delivers some of the best food in Miami. While the portions definitely stick to the long-held school of thought that the finer the food the smaller the portion, the combination of flavors are both delicious and creatively unique. Turquoise and bright orange walls add a playful touch to the décor. Diners sit in miss-matched white dining chairs while eating braised short ribs, prawns and ceviche.

Verdaddy’s, 7501 Biscayne Blvd – This simple roadside taco shack delivers killer flavor and authentic Mexi-Cal cuisine to an otherwise empty block on the Boulevard. The staff’s friendly “hey dude” attitude, strict adherence to fresh ingredients and homemade salsas make this a local hangout. Don’t miss the steak and potatoes nachos or the fish tacos.

Jimmy’s East Side Diner, 7201 Biscayne Blvd. — This isn’t IHOP! Unpretentious breakfast food is served up fast and delicious at this local eatery. Weekend lines are long as diners read the morning newspaper from plush booths or cozy up to the bar in the back.

Andiamo’s Pizza, 5600 Biscayne Blvd. — What was once a tire change and pit stop is now a bustling pizzeria serving up some of the best brick oven baked pies on the East Coast. Outside diners devour the Genovese, Ratatouille and Bella Bambina pizzas while listening to Sinatra era tunes.

Red Light, 7700 Biscayne Blvd. – This “fine diner” captures Miami in more ways than one: The old motel in which it is located, the manatee area by the canal-side seating and the creative and interesting food (made from local ingredients). All of these make this joint a postcard experience.

Soyka, 5582 NE 4th Ct. – Few would have expected that a single restaurant could have had such an impact on the revitalization of an area. As one of the first restaurants in the Biscayne corridor to attracted patrons to the area, Soyka has been credited as one of the key players in building a positive momentum for the gentrification of the MiMo district. Today Soyka keeps drawing customers from all over the city. Its reputation is well deserved as it keeps feeding customers a gamut of American goodies, such as mac-and-cheese and meat loaf, in a “charming” space that makes the most of this old industrial warehouse.

Further Afield:


Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd — Primarily a trap for tourists waiting for their cruise ships, yet the open air mall has a few charms, mainly Passage to India, a great place to score some adorable sundresses, and Art By God, a nature inspired home accessories store that stocks large geodes, fossils, coral and other pieces of “art” found in nature.

Suggested For You


  • You must check out C.MADELINES which is also on Biscayne but further north. Amazing, ahhhmazing store. Susie Bubble from http://www.stylebubble.typad.com has written about it. And all of the celebrities have been there!(www.cmadeleines.com)
    13702 Biscayne Blvd
    North Miami, FL 33181

    phone: 305 945 7770

  • I am escaping Chicago cold (tm – it deserves its own trademark) this weekend to be in Miami for the first time. I’ll be working most of the time, but definitely going print out this guide and take it along with me in case of the slight chance of available afternoons…

  • If you head a bit south, you’ll hit downtown Miami and encounter many local eateries of various cuisines. There’s a bookstore downtown that’s been around since the 1950s, Metro Beauty for higher end products than the local Walgreens that’s also been around forever, and a wonderful hidden multi-restaurant courtyard north of Macys that transports you to a wholly different place and time.

  • Casa Toscana is an amazing little restaurant located at 7001 Biscayne Blvd. It is small, intimate and the food is always perfect, homemade Italian. They carry incredible wines and the service is great. The list could go on and on… I’m not sure if they take reservations and the place is truly small (no more that 20 tables) so get there early for some amazing food!

    Casa Toscana
    (305) 758-3353

  • I am a Miami local, I currently live on South Beach and work in Wynwood. I am so excited to see Miami on here! There are a few amazing things that are affordable and wondeful local things to see and do that were not mentioned so I’ll mention just a few:
    -The Rubell Family Collection
    -Bernice Steinbaum’s Gallery
    -Churchills (english pub) – a live music venue where all local bands play atleast once by the time they are famous (some very famous people have played here) a real dive with a record store called Sweat Records and a vintage clothing boutique called Rag Trade in the back.
    -Canela- a local artist restaurant/hang out filled with art work by local artist Lebo
    -Studio A – another live music venue (went to Cat Power show there!)
    -Upper East Side Garden on Biscayne (7244 Biscayne Blvd)- a tiny garden with an open bar and a miniature golf course designed by and constantly updated by local artists.
    There are so many more things I can mention…but I have to get back to work!

  • i am addicted Susane R. ,her collection is an ever changing temptation to buy.I just fall in love with her unusual pieces that i must have, and i have also purchased her fantastic chairs that she designs and will upholsters with your own fabric.

  • A couple places that would also be of interest to those visiting the design district…

    Genius Jones- modern design furniture/clothes/toys for children (geniusjones.com)

    Orange Cafe- a great little cafe with yummy breakfast croissants, delicious sandwiches named after artists and beer on tap. Great place for those on a budget!

  • HAVE to go eat at Metro Organic Bistro….run by a lovely couple of various backgrounds…….minimalist simple organic delicious– ANNNND the music is carefully chosen and put at a perfect decibel to eat/relax/enjoy the night to. everything is delicious and it’s amazing how friendly the staff/chef is! very cool

  • A few updates –

    Buena Vista Bistro near the Design District – intimate, personal, delicious!

    The number of mid-century stores in the North Miami Art and Design District (NE 125 St. from NE 7th Ave to NE 9th Ave), continues to grow. Along with Marc Corbin, Stripe Vintage Modern, Vermillion, Artistic Antiques, Art Modern, and Gustavo Olivieri Antiques, new additions Visiona, Gary Rubinstein Antiques, Thomas Brillet, Galleria D’Epoca, Mostly Modern, and Joseph Anfuso bring the total up to twelve!
    LaLa’s bakery serves up fresh pastries, sandwiches, and coffee in the District.

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