Monday, January 23, 2012
// In this insightful essay from The Genteel, Ministry of Artistic Affairs member Karina Abramova explores the particular recent history that has brought Miami to the forefront of visual culture in North America. // It all started roughly fifteen years ago, when major developers like Craig Robins and Tony Goldman began buying up properties in Wynwood and the Design District, just north of downtown Miami. They wanted to take advantage of an already existing, but slowly developing, art community in these once-rundown, undervalued neighbourhoods. Their goal was to use the budding art scene to boost the allure of the areas as "up-and-coming", and to inspire interest among artists and designers from other neighbourhoods and cities. It worked, because today the Wynwood Arts District boasts a total of some 80 galleries and the Design District is one of the country's hottest design and high-end retail destinations. Design District restorer, Craig Robins, is a tour-de-force developer who was one of the first men behind the successful transformation of South Beach from low-key and rough into a desirable tourist destination by the mid-1990's. He then set his sights west of the Beach, at the troubled Design District which contained some of the city's sketchiest corners. With his company, Dacra, Robins started buying and developing properties in the area, turning them into mixed-use commercial assets. Now he owns about 60 per cent of the Design District, which translates into 700,000 square feet of property. Robins is also the co-founder of Design Miami (more on it here), the sister fair to Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), which boasts satellite exhibits in the district. The neighbourhood is on the verge of blowing up as a global cultural and entertainment centre with serious high-end shopping - Christian Louboutin, Yohji Yamamoto, Marc Jacobs and Fendi are already present. Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Cartier and Dior Homme are on their way, as Robins expects to bring in forty to fifty retailers by 2014. The Genteel.