Who We Are, Who We Want To Be

Luis Pons' And David Schwarz' Design Philosophy Combining Nostalgia, Playfulness And Vision Comes To Life In Their Home Once Owned By Al Capone
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When Designer Luis Pons and Architect David M. Schwarz found this 12,000-square-foot 1930s Mediterranean in Miami Beach with the million dollar view, it was a valuable but totally dysfunctional house. "Al Capone had owned the property," Pons says. "But a German developer had restructured it in the '90s to accommodate his family and those of his children. The three families lived together — each with a separate entrance." Nothing a designer and architect couldn't handle — with a little work.

Conceptualized as a showplace for their collections of 1950s pottery, contemporary furniture, prototype design pieces and whimsical toys, Pons and Schwarz sought to combine the warm patina of memories with fun and funtionality. With a revitalized flow, the home is now joined together, centered around a 30-by-60-foot kitchen that shimmers in light and hospitality.

Using a neutral palette of white and bone throughout, attention is focused on pieces that almost demand tactile investigation: a 1940s metal car in the living room; a vintage 1930s French factory adjustable desk lamp; and a sculptural Scandinavian metal rocking chair. Even the original Mediterranean stairway railing becomes an objet d'art as it resonates with the mahogany floor inlays ringed in ivory marble. One of Pons' series of stacked-frame low credenzas, fashioned with a painted glass top and chrome legs, displays three 1940s Friberg pots.

From the open living room and foyer, the sitting area emerges nearby in a slightly warmer tone of bone. In a light-flooded space, Frank Lloyd Wright's red-metal hexagonal table and Poltrona Frau sofas from Italy combine with a 1940s Olympic poster, popping color and fun with subliminally elegant lines.

A pottery variation, this time in miniature, appears as tiny sculptures against the dining room wall. Mixed Danish-style and Japanese-American-inspired chairs surround the Carlo Scarpa table from Luminaire, while one of Pons' dazzling ball and chain chandeliers playfully manipulates perception with its moveable magnetic bulbs.

With surprise arcs and arches, the kitchen seems to "let its hair down." Walls a water blue, the painted-white wood and metal cabinets harken back to yesteryear France with thick Carrera marble countertops and stove surround. Utilitarian Crate and Barrel painted china cabinets look upscale behind Florence Knoll's glass-topped table and vintage chairs. With his playful eye, Pons invited three vari-colored rabbits to oversee all the kitchen activities — and keep the house supplied with cookies as well.

As much artist as designer, Pons recalls his favorites: Duchamp for his intellect and wit; Matisse for the beauty of line; and Jasper Johns for outlook on simple objects as art. In the bedroom, these preferences are realized in seven architecturally positioned drawings above the simply dressed bed; another of Pons' low credenzas crafted of vintage picture frame moldings; and, bringing a smile, a small metal-wire light bulb by Enrique Enriques.

One needs to be part psychologist when designing a home," Pons says. "A home is a collection of your memories made concrete in your own space … of who you are today … and the dream of who you will one day become."

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Interior Design
Luis Pons, Luis Pons D-Lab, Miami, FL

Moris Moreno, Miami, FL

Text by
Marina Brown