Rich materials emphasize extravagance in Miami's Alchemist boutique by Rene Gonzalez

MIAMI – Cuban émigrés and their American families have transformed Miami, once a staid resort for tourists and retirees, into a vibrantly creative city that links the US and Latin America. Rene Gonzalez has a flourishing architecture practice and has just completed his third Alchemist, an exclusive jewellery boutique, in Miami’s burgeoning design district. The first Alchemist was a mirrored sky box on the fifth floor of Herzog & de Meuron’s Lincoln Road parking structure; the second was a foam-lined womb on the adjoining site. This third iteration exploits its position at the end of a tree-lined cul-de-sac with a reflective façade of rose-gold mirror glass. The interior can be glimpsed through a clear glass frame, drawing shoppers into a luxurious stone-clad showroom.

Gonzalez chooses tactile materials to achieve an experiential impact, and this project is distinctively different from its predecessors. The linear space is lined with green Costa Esmeralda granite in three contrasting finishes – bush-hammered, honed and polished – with inset panels of the same rose-gold mirror glass that is used on the façade. White latex rubber is stretched taut over the ceiling and backlit to produce a soft glow. Pin spots bring out the sparkle in jewellery displayed in onyx and glass cases that project from the walls. These cases alternate with recessed vitrines to create a rhythmic pattern of varied tones and textures, projection and recession, from front to back. The interior is tapered to force the perspective and to make the rear feel more intimate, and service areas are accommodated in the narrow wedges of space behind the granite walls.

Photo Michael Stavaridis

This article debuted in Frame #106 alongside a host of inspirational interviews and projects. Find your copy in the online Frame store.

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Luxury just ain’t what it used to be. In yesteryear’s hospitality scene, the term was synonymous with private dining, champagne on ice and five-star hotels. Today, priorities have changed.

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