Floating Oasis In The Sky

This Contemporary Penthouse In Miami's Epic Is Framed By Nature's Magnificent Panorama, And Anchored With Interiors In A Palette Of Gray, Black And Red

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Nothing can compare with the expansive views of Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from this 7,500-square-foot penthouse on the 54th-floor of the Epic Hotel and Residences in Miami, Fla. From an interior design perspective, this spectacular panorama calls for a frame to create visual photographs. Designer Hernan Arriaga creates shimmering yet substantial, bold and subtle frames that reflect the homeowner's personality and desire for a modern environment. It is just one of a number of residences owned by his client, a 20-something young man who came to Miami to complete his master's studies. "He is incredibly tasteful," Arriaga says. "He has been exposed to so much in his travels and knows exactly what he wants."

After studying the two-story home's large, light-filled spaces, high ceilings and walls of glass, the designer created a frame in a restrained palette of light gray. "With such a faded tone, I had to give it some personality to distinguish a style," Arriaga says. "To do this, I used black — the doors are all high gloss black — and dashes of red." The colors create an incredible fusion, something he had not seen before and wanted to try.

In the first-floor living space, shades of gray shimmer in a reflective, luxurious and elegant fashion with Meridiani's linen-clad sectional sofa grounded by a silk and wool area rug from Minotti. The designer also selected a Raul Carrasco cocktail table topped with marble perched on an ebony finished wood base, along with two petrified wood accent tables from Indonesia. The petrified wood reminds the client of his childhood, and also lends an organic element, something Arriaga likes to incorporate into his design. "Seeing a piece of wood from the ocean, for example, directly recalls a person's history or past," the designer says. Lending a modern touch to the grouping is a matching pair of Urban Art benches, based on a Jean-Michel Frank design, covered in eel skin and finished in chrome.

Beyond, a kitchen crafted by Dada Molteni features cabinetry in an ebony finish and a breakfast bar topped with Cararra marble. The Arriaga "Wall of Fame," the designer's trademark, details a client's history with a selection of their favorite photographs set in matching frames. The gallery of photographs can be admired while seated on leather and chrome barstools designed by Franco Poli.

From an intimate dining area, breathtaking water views can be glimpsed while dining at the ebony-and-black-nickel table surrounded by chrome-and-hide chairs. Overhead, a Lolli e Memmoli crystal chandelier casts a soft glow that subtly enhances the stunning view.

In a library niche in the living area, Minotti's chaise lounge covered in a gray silk-velvet fabric provides a quiet place to relax. Arriaga's custom-designed bookcase, a dramatic backdrop in black lacquer and black glass, serves as a showcase for the client's personal collections. Shades of red are infused with a Baxter floor lamp by Paola Navone in a contemporary rope design and red painted book covers that pop against the sleek black shelving.

The designer modernized the home's original wood stairway refabricating it with glass, stainless steel and black-lacquered wood details. "I didn't want it to overtake the space, but to continue the flow," he says. It rises to a second story, where another large living space created for entertaining opens to a sun deck. In the corner, a leather sofa from Baxter, and a custom-designed ottoman in a tufted, gray silk velvet form a social grouping. Arriaga added architectural and organic interest with his custom-designed wall of white oak planks.

On the spacious terrace, casual sofas and armchairs create a tranquil outdoor living space. Here, the Epic's architectural elements abound, but are softened by a landscape design that incorporates a variety of flora such as roses, jasmine, bougainvillea, clusia, podocarpus, boxwoods and ponytail palms. "I wanted the terrace to feel like a garden," the designer says.

Arriaga set out to create a penthouse that embodies contemporary living and dining within a unified and simplified interior scheme. His use of modern furnishings and a sophisticated color palette ensured that the space would be as young as its owner, as well as represent his unique style and personality. "It worked out in the end," he says. "My client fell completely in love with the home."

Hernan Arriaga, Hernan Arriaga Design, Miami, FL

Hector Velasco Facio, Miami, FL

Text by
Christine Davis