For more than 60 years, Italian fashion house Missoni has created colorful patterns and artsy designs that make a statement both on and off the runway. So when architect Hani Rashid (who cofounded Asymptote Architecture with Lise Ann Couture) worked on the design for the brand’s first-ever residences, he took cues from the minimalist and kinetic works of American sculptors such as Sol Lewitt and Donald Judd to bridge the gap between fashion and art.
“These artists celebrated purity, musicality, and the eloquence of perfect form, and from that DNA this tower was conceived, as a nod to an elegant and new Miami,” Rashid says. “The whole building has an artistry to it. When you enter the building, you feel like you’re stepping inside a sculpture.”
Missoni Baia, the 249-unit project being developed by OKO Group, broke ground last month along Biscayne Bay. Current prices range from $500,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $3.5 million for a six-bedroom penthouse. The building is on track to be completed in 2020.
Robb Report spoke with Rashid to discuss why he decided to become an architect and how his firm created an artsy building befitting the iconic brand.
What inspired you to become an architect?
I became an architect as a result of an early interest in film, photography, and art. Having grown up with a father who was an accomplished abstract painter and sculptor, it was second nature for me to detour from being an artist to becoming an architect. It occurred to me that all these pursuits were effectively spatial. For me, architecture held the most potential as a means to build spatiality and ideas into form and substance. Our practice today is heavily involved with contemporary art, both as a core interest and in projects such as the Hermitage Modern Museum we are building in Moscow. Also, our work speaks to an architectural practice that sees art, form, innovation, and beauty as a constant preoccupation.
What was your vision for Missoni Baia?
We drew upon the important minimalist paintings and sculptural practices of primarily the American schools of thinking in the mid- to late 20th century, such as the works of Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, and Josef Albers, as well as the refined mathematical experiments of the Venezuelan sculptor Jesús Soto and others. The architecture is clean and refined, containing what I see as stacked glass villas organized vertically into the sky—delineated by a powerful minimal sculpted frame that binds them together architecturally.
You’ve previously talked about how stepping into the building feels like stepping into a sculpture. How do you see the building as an extension of art?
Minimal sculpture, painting, music, and even film all adhere to one important criteria: that the work through its seemingly quiet gestures and nuances resonates with light and space and is mathematically pure above all else. The same can be said of our architecture. This building is not minimalist in the sense that it uses few gestures to evoke a whole, but rather it celebrates the physical surroundings, the Miami skyline, Biscayne Bay, and its reflections off the water—and, in so doing, resonates its presence as optic and spatial phenomena, reconciling the city’s fascinating cultural “noise.” In this way, the building’s design is as much an artistic gesture as it is a work drawn from art genres and motives that speak to Miami as a 21st-century city in a state of constant growth and evolution.
What materials will be used for the project?
The most innovative material is a glass-reinforced-fiberglass concrete to enclose the mega fins. There are other interesting materials used throughout the building’s interiors as chosen by Paris Forino in consultation and collaboration with the Missoni family. On the architectural side, we have sought out clean, optically compelling materials to enhance a sense of elegance and luxury. The Missoni Baia tower design celebrates musical, minimal forms as a way of stabilizing and harmonizing the new evolving skyline of Edgewater in the ever-changing city of Miami.