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Mystery and intrigue: Using art as design inspiration

How artwork can influence and inspire interior design and create timeless spaces

By: Susan LaFleur, Miami, Florida

An artistic electricity surged throughout Miami again this year as Art Basel week in Miami continues to attract top artists from around the world in a burst of culture, exhibitions and live creations. From the fashionable art connoisseur to the hipster, Art Basel connects talent and passion in one explosive week. As an interior designer, this time of year is particularly exciting for me to form new relationships and develop new creative opportunities for my team.

I stumbled upon a piece of art two years ago while at the Spectrum Miami Exhibit that stopped me in my tracks. “Eve,” a portrait by artist Anna Sweet, isn’t your typical photograph of a beautiful woman. Instead, Eve’s forbidden beauty is obscured from her audience by a giant leaf with just a slight glimpse of her red lip. The entire composition is dusted with sparkling sugar and tiny rhinestones that add that wow factor I was seeking for a new multi-family residential tower we were conceptualizing. The project would link Miami’s popular Midtown and Design District neighborhoods and Eve was just the inspiration I was looking for.

When I showed the design team Sweet’s stunning photography, they were equally captivated by Eve’s colorful and feminine mystique. We formulated a strong design concept by implementing this portrait into our lobby and the client loved the artwork so much they decided to name the building after her. The name Eve at the District was born and its larger than life namesake now fascinates residents and guests from the moment they walk in. My goal was to have residents and visitors ask about this mysterious woman—who she is, how she was created, and tell the story about the artist and the space.

Sweet’s portfolio of work is comprised of graceful women and organic marine life; such that, the imagery compelled us to use two more of her pieces: Nalu Anela in the club room and Narcissus Jelly in the library. These artworks joined with the high luxury of the Design District and raw edginess of the nearby Wynwood Art District is the inspiration for the building’s interiors. Set on a canvas of crisp black and white finishes Eve, as a large format wall covering, stands boldly behind the minimal reception desk. Her bold lips are embodied on accessories, chairs and other artwork in the public spaces. The deep blues and fresh greens of the ‘Elephant Ear’ leaf are pulled onto surrounding furniture and accessories throughout the building including a vibrant aqua pool table in the game room.

The Nalu Anela portrait, which means “Maui Blue,” is displayed in the club room on the sixth floor amenity deck. The piece combines abstract painting with the image of an elegant woman floating right below the water’s surface. To echo the artwork’s turquoise waters, we incorporated many of the colors and textures in the flooring, walls, and seating areas.

The bright daylighting and active pool deck nearby draws residents toward the intimate library where the piece Narcissus Jelly, a pink deep-sea jellyfish on a hypnotizing celestial background, is integrated into a stunning custom bookshelf.

The enchanting elements found within Eve at the District not only make a great first impression and set the tone of the space, but they also tell a timeless story.Much like my first experience meeting Anna Sweet, I want guests to ask about that certain work of art that intrigues them. Conversations should ignite when an exciting and unexpected design element is discovered. By designing around inspiring artwork, I hope to broaden our artistic community and offer fresh design perspectives to the city of Miami.

Related item: Architecture & Interior Design

As an energetic and spirited designer, Susan LaFleur has set herself apart amongst the hospitality and residential design world. Susan draws inspiration from everyday life and feels it is one of the best ways to develop new design elements while bringing her client’s vision to life and telling a unique story with each project’s design.

Interior Design is an expression of the way we fashion ourselves, with details as simple and intricate as a pair of heels or a tailored suit.

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