Design & Real Estate

Inspired Spaces

In a city enthused with aesthetics, who are the designers, architects and visionaries leading us into bold new terrain? Meet a few professionals in the design field who stand, powerfully, apart from the competition.
Text by Ryan Jarrell Portraits by Edward Leal Project photos courtesy of Respective Designers | May 7, 2018 | Design & Real Estate

Taylor Husted
California Closets
900 Park Centre Blvd, Ste. 476

While other children were bandying about the classroom made up as princesses, firefighters and ballerinas, California Closets’ Expert Interior Designer Taylor Husted had one focus: Spaces, and how they affect the world around them. “Since childhood, I’ve had an obsession with creating spaces — pushing around furniture in my bedroom and making miniature vignettes on bookshelves,” she says. “To this day, I’m still habitually doing this. My goal when designing is to play with aesthetics, explore functionality and always keep in mind the energy of a particular product or space.”
Far more than catalog consultant or everyday expert of clicked tips and techniques, Husted finds that the most important aspect of her job is giving spaces a harmony intrinsic to peace of mind, an almost mystical rearranging that can facilitate a greater degree of balance and proportion in a client’s life. “I’m very process-driven,” she says. “As a Design Consultant for California Closets, I love the initial chaos of a client’s space, collaboratively creating an solution for their unique issue, and seeing the final product with a relieved client. The beginning-to-end transformation is amazing. I’m thankful for the ability to be working with such a great team of designers, engineers, installers and management that all have a passion for their part in the process!”

Design Philosophy: “Design is a continuously evolving exploration — listen to your intuition and always stay playful.”

Essential Must-Have: “Curiosity, excitement, compassion and a tape measure!”

Trend Predictions: “I definitely see a wave of minimalism coming. People are realizing that experiences bring more lasting happiness than buying things. Because of this, the investment in quality products from brands that specialize in specific services is key.”

Diana Alba
Alba Design
4530 SW 68th Ct. Cir., Ste. 10

CEO. Mother. Wife. Expert aestheticist well-versed in technical know-how, but blessed with an intuitive artistic flair. For those looking for examples of a modern businesswoman that has it all, look no further than Diana Alba of Alba Design Group, a veteran of our Magic City’s architectural and design communities solely concerned with bettering her business for her customer base.
Equally in love with both the architectural and interior design aspects of her work, instead of splitting her passions, Alba did what any innovative entrepreneur would do: She combined them! “By training, I’m an architect, but I got involved with Interior Design because that’s my passion,” says Alba, whose firm works with such marvelous businesses as Iberia Tiles. With vast experience designing homes from an architectural standpoint, she decided to start in the design field to merge the best of both worlds. “After a few years, I can confidently call myself a Design Architect,” she says. “I deliver a unique experience for my customers that provides comfort without sacrificing design.”
Acutely aware that any business that hopes to succeed in the cities of tomorrow must, by necessity, incorporate state-of-the-art techniques and technology, Alba keeps herself poised on the cutting-edge of design and architecturally related innovations that benefit her work with her clients with breathtaking results. “I’m a big fan of digital technologies that I can utilize to better serve my customers,” she says. “I run my business on modern platforms and I know my customers appreciate that.”

Design Philosophy: “An open mind is essential in this business, to always be open to new ideas and truly learn about customers. A good rule is to adapt, instead of to impose.”

Essential Must-Have: “You always need a great couch — one that’s both comfortable and beautiful.”

Trend Predictions: “We’re going back to comfort over everything else. Rustic design is coming back in a big way and is going to be trending in the next couple of years. Also, tiles are becoming more and more common as technologies improve. People are moving into a more personalized experience and tiles are providing that character to the design.”

Adriana Victoria
El Dorado Furniture
2475 SW 8th St.

For Designer Adriana Victoria, a position with El Dorado Furniture was much more than just a way to secure a paycheck from one of Miami’s most well-regarded local businesses. At El Dorado, perhaps she could, through both top-notch design work and participation in the company’s many charitable ventures, instill for local families the peace, ease and security she’d been denied in her native Colombia. “When I came to Miami in 1999, I had left my country due to increasing violence.” she says. “It wasn’t until 2000 that doors opened up for me as a decorator and I found the opportunity to work with El Dorado Furniture.”
One of the things that has really made a difference for her is how El Dorado has helped furnish the homes of disadvantaged families and families with sick or disabled children who can’t afford new furniture. “The community activities make me proud to be a part of the brand,” she says.
When not assisting her company in spearheading healthful civic efforts, Victoria can usually be found scouring showrooms both digital and analog for the next luxurious look to dot our city’s boudoirs and living spaces. “One of my goals is to continue contributing my knowledge to El Dorado Furniture while staying up-to-date on all the diverse styles that we introduce in various showrooms,” she says. “And, of course, working on each and every project with the passion and professionalism our amazing customers deserve.”

Design Philosophy: “Everything that I do has to be done with passion, knowledge and professionalism. I love what I do and that defines me as a person both professionally and personally.”

Essential Must-Have: “Knowledge of what’s up-to-date in the fashion world. This will give me all the tools needed to create an amazing design.”

Trend Predictions: “I think we’ll see more natural materials in combination with stone, glass and acrylic, and the use of colors as accents to make customers feel warm within their home. Combining these elements creates an eclectic look that is very relevant.”

Tamara & Bernadette Despujols
TBD Group
250 NW 23rf St.
305.890.1523; 661.670.7462

Venezuelan sisters and modern-day urban philosophers just as comfortable lecturing behind a lectern as developing devastatingly designed residences, even scoffers at the concept of destiny will be hard-pressed to disagree: Tamara & Bernadette Despujols seem born to own, operate and direct one of our city’s most cutting-edge architectural and design firms. Amassing a lifetime of architectural training in some of the world’s premier academies and institutions, the payoff for a lifetime devoted to the building arts is seeing a dream become an integral part of the community it occupies — whether it’s single-family homes, multi-family properties or anything in between. “We love that we have the opportunity to leave a footprint and see Miami grow,” says Tamara, whose credentials include significant stints at both the University of Miami and the Parsons School of Design. “Each of the houses we’ve designed and developed in Key Biscayne is home to a happy family,” says Bernadette. “It’s satisfying to know that we are making someone’s life better through our work.”
A female-led firm in a world too often dominated by males, The Despujols believe their greatest strength is their vision, slightly to the left of classically cookie-cutter developers. “Quality of life and state-of-the-art designs are always side by side in our work,” says Bernadette, a former professor of Architectonic Design at the Universidad Central De Venezuela before arriving in the U.S. “We’re primarily focused on building honest projects with character and personality that stand out from the standardized architecture so common today,” says Tamara, Architect & Urbanist. “We always care about the impact our projects have on the city’s identity.” Set to begin construction on two Miami Beach properties in the near future with buildings that marvelously marry the district’s Art Deco atmosphere while fostering pedestrian activity, our only wish for the TBD Group would be that we could see more of their buildings dotting the skyline.

Design Philosophy: “The simplicity of our architecture emphasizes the concept of sensation and physical experiences that are heavily influenced by the culture of the tropics. As such, we allow landscapes to permeate into structures through multiple strategies such as breezeblocks and large balconies.”

Essential Must-Have: “The only essential must-have in architecture is a good conscience!”

Trend Predictions: “In Miami, we have built a sub-tropical visual vocabulary fused with mid-20th Century Art Deco to continue to strengthen the city’s visual identity. We aim to create architecture that responds to Miami`s needs, its context and the unique characteristics of its location.”

Sean Daigle
Downsview Kitchens
12800 U.S. Hwy 1, Ste. 100

Steady and committed, Downsview Kitchens’ Sean Daigle is a rarity in today’s corporate culture: A dedicated company man resolute in his devotion to customer satisfaction. An enthusiastic Sr. Designer of Toronto-based cabinetry specialists Downsview Kitchens for the last 22 years, it takes little for this expert aesthete to wax poetic about the advantages of working for a locally-owned firm. “The best part about my job is simply being a part of the Downsview Kitchens family,” says Daigle, who facilitated the opening of the brand’s Juno Beach Showroom in 2004. “For more than half a century, we have produced the finest and most innovative kitchen furnishings on the market, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Amply applying his architectural background to fit the needs of an increasing clientele, Daigle is always on the lookout for tools and techniques that ease and enliven his customers’ homes. “Along with Downsview’s environmentally conscious manufacturing environment and techniques, technology also continues to aid with handle-free cabinet designs where doors and drawers open automatically with just a light touch or a pull,” says Daigle, who tries to stay away from many trends that will fade quickly and leave work with an dated look.
So what’s an exciting aspect of his craft that he has seen grow in the cultural consciousness? “Mixing styles seems to be more accepted in today’s kitchen spaces,” he says. “Open, ‘social’ kitchens have also replaced formal, closed-in kitchens. Today’s kitchen should be functional, family-friendly and the focal point of the home.”

Design Philosophy: “I feel that my design philosophy is a fluid thing and the direction of each project becomes what the client really requires. Their needs, goals, and of course, budget drive the project.”

Essential Must-Have: “Downsview products throughout your home, of course! The fun part is exploring and utilizing the flexibilities that Downsview offers — from a custom-designed bath vanity of hand-selected rift-cut white oak to a kitchen done in an imported exotic European veneer with custom stainless steel inlay details.”

Trend Predictions: “I think we’ll start to see a resurgence of more traditional styles and details a little further down the road. It’s all cyclical. Additionally, I think we’ll see the use of manufactured materials continue to become more commonplace.”

Anne Jackaway
Anne Jackaway Architects, Inc.
328 NW 29th St.

Blessed as we are with an economy dually pivoted on tourism and multinational banking conglomerates, it’s sad to note our city is still too often relegated to the role of receiver, considered in the national consciousness as little more a glittering trade hub lacking in its own individual flavor and tenor. It’s only by the diligent efforts of our homegrown activists, entrepreneurs and visionaries that we, a Magic City by any rank or estimation, have been able to cement an identity wholly and inescapably our own.
On the front lines of that global expansion of Miami savor to the national and international business communities is Anne Jackaway, President, Founder & Principal of Anne Jackaway Architects, Inc. Throughout her storied career, she has served as the designer of more than 30 major hotels and resorts worldwide, including projects in St. Thomas, Baltimore, Tampa, Atlanta, Morocco, New York, Curacao and Miami.
A UM graduate who spent over 20 years honing her design and architectural chops at Coral Gables development aces Nichols, Brust, Wurst, Wolfe & Associates, Jackaway is a vetted expert in the business of function and design. Now helming her own boutique firm with pure global appeal, Jackaway finds that, for her and her team, the intimacy her firm provides offers clients a more direct and customized product. “We enjoy being a small firm with big ideas,” she says. “Every project is as unique as our clients. We’re looking forward to getting more local work so that we can be a part of the continued expansion of this wonderful city we call home.”

Design Philosophy: “We aim to be passionate about good design and the entire composition, which will lead to the ultimate success of our clients. Great design does not have to cost more.”

An Essential Must-Have: “Ritual celebrations of life with family!”

Trend Predictions: “I think we’re going to see more collaboration with artists and musicians to inspire design — light, sound, colors and culturally inspired technique all working together in 3D.”