Miami Design District

By Paul S. George

The Miami Design District, an iconic neighborhood of fashion, furnishings, art museums and restaurants, stretches in a north-south direction from Northeast Thirty-ninth Street to Northeast Forty-second Street, and from west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks on its eastern flank to the west side of North Miami Avenue. The district’s history reaches back to the early 1920s, when the signature Moore Furniture Building opened near Northeast Fortieth Street and Second Avenue, catalyzing the appearance, in downtown Buena Vista, of which it was a part, a Decorator’s Row of other buildings and businesses offering interior furnishings.

In the middle decades of the 20th century, this special element of Buena Vista morphed into the Miami Design District, as a plethora of businesses and restaurants, spurred on by the presence of such heavyweights as Modernage Furniture, Richard J. Plummer, a decorator, and restaurateur David Harrison, with his signature restaurants, experienced success.

The 1980s marked a problematic time for the district following the Miami Riot of 1980, a sharp rise in crime in that neighborhood and competition from the new DCOTA (Design Center of the Americas) in Dania Beach. Many small businesses in the district closed while others struggled.

However, the fortunes of the Miami Design District changed soon after with the entry of Craig Robins to the neighborhood. Robins, who had success with Miami Beach’s revitalized Art Deco District, began purchasing buildings in the design district with the goal of transforming it into a unique, creative community through exceptional architecture, art, design and experiences. Historic buildings were carefully restored. New structures with unique designs arose alongside them.

By the early 2000s, Robin’s vision began to take shape as new businesses moved into the transformed design district. Today, the Miami Design District is a vibrant community where visitors enjoy shopping for clothing, jewelry and other items in many of America’s most luxurious stores, stunning design showrooms, chef-driven restaurants, world-class museums, and beautiful outdoor space highlighted by sculpture, art, and foliage.