Miami Design District Case Study

In the earliest history of the property, the plot of land that was to become the Miami Design District was a pineapple farm. It changed hands and owners throughout time, and in the 70s and 80s, the Design District was a blossoming wholesale furniture and design center. However, the area declined in popularity as newer design centers formed around the city, and it began decaying into a gritty, run down neighborhood of Miami. Craig Robins (Dacra Real Estate) had begun buying buildings in the area over two decades ago with plans to revitalize the 9 block district into a luxury shopping destination, and finally, after a year of discussion, in 2010, a partnership was inked with Michael Burke (Louis Vuitton Worldwide), Bernard Arnault (LVMH), and L Real Estate. Many luxury brands were eagar to get a foothold in the new district and couldn’t pass the opportunity to open 10-20,000 sq ft flagships in the new Miami Design District. As Marshal Cohen of the NDP Groups says, “[The Miami Design District is] about the brand being able to showcase the lifestyle of the brand, rather than a selected version of pieces of the brand.”

...and consultants to curate a series of unique urban elements that are a critical component of the visitor experience. The team at RSM Design created atypical applications for the environmental graphics in the district including urban maps, civic wayfinding elements, custom crosswalks, parking wayfinding, and didactic signs for the art collection dispersed throughout the area. The challenge in the project was to design signage that was aptly informative and clear, but also elegant and sophisticated enough to stand next to some of the highest-end retailers in the world. There was a special emphasis on highlighting the artful moments strategically placed throughout, and in places, the signage takes a museum-like approach, providing just enough information to allow visitors to focus on the art and retailers.

The role of public art in the Miami Design District is to add a dynamic layer of character to the area, as well as aid in navigation and a visitor’s sense of place within the project. From sculptures and architectural facades, to storefronts, hand-painted murals, and whimsical moments of delight, the District has curated an atypical, highly creative retail destination experience that draws world-class tenants and shoppers from around the world.

The directories for the Miami Design District had to emulate the innovative, sophisticated, high-fashion attitude that was already present in the district. RSM Design did a study on urban directories and in the end focused on a three-dimensional approach to the mapping. The directory is meant to be more interactive and sculptural than a typical directory, and placed a focus on the district as a whole, as opposed to individual buildings and locations.