South Florida’s most prolific condo developer is more determined than ever to place art — paintings, sculpture, public installations — front and center in the many projects the firm has in its burgeoning portfolio.
The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn Miami’s high-rises and public spaces into art-centric sites that would recall the great monuments, plazas and street-level sculptures of cities like Florence, Barcelona and Paris.
“We see ourselves as creating that kind of identity for Miami,” Carlos Rosso, president of the Related Group’s condo division, said during a panel discussion on Wednesday at Maison & Objet’s Interior Design and Lifestyle Summit in Miami Beach. “We are trying to do whatever we can to bring great art here.”
Rosso said the company — headed by the inveterate art collector Jorge Pérez — owns about 2,000 works of art that it can choose from for its building projects, and that more are being purchased all the time. As part of that process, Related two years ago hired an art director, Patricia García-Vélez Hanna, who had previously served as director of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in Miami. She now works with architects and designers to choose and purchase artists’ work and commission site-specific pieces for the developer’s projects.
“Art is an integral part of the process,” Hanna told the audience at the panel discussion, which was titled “Art, design and culture: how the Related Group has reinvented the condominium market.”
“We’re looking for that sensation when you’re living with art and it sparks a conversation,” Hanna said. “We want to be daring in our selections, so that it creates a dialogue.”
Will Meyer, an interior designer and co-founder of Meyer Davis Studio, whose current projects for the Related Group include a restaurant at Paraiso Bay in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood and the Auberge Beach Residences in Fort Lauderdale, said the developer has created “endless possibilities” in terms of how to use art in its endeavors.
“They want to create a certain lifestyle, a certain sense of place, things that are memorable,” Meyer said. For the project at Paraiso Bay, he went on, “the idea was to create a restaurant that looks like it was there forever, with a sense of history, and as people make their own history there, it will be all about those public spaces.”
Just this week, on Monday, “Untitled,” a sinuous sculpture by Pablo Atchugarry, was unveiled as one of the Paraiso community’s distinguishing external features.
Piero Lissoni, an architect, designer and art director who works on Related’s projects, said that when he places a work of art in a building, “it’s not decoration.”
“We never choose something because it’s nice, because it’s easy,” Lissoni said. “We choose something because it’s art. I like to respect what the meaning of art is.”
Lissoni, who oversees a staff of about 60 people in the fields of architecture and interiors, as well as industrial and graphic design, said that when he first sat down with people from Related several years ago to discuss a collaboration, “we didn’t talk business — we talked about art.”
João Armentano, a Brazilian architect with more than 30 years of experience, agreed on the importance of site-specific art. Any such work for a building or a public space “has to be something very special,” he said. “It’s not just a piece to make a decoration.”
Some of the art works on Related properties are already well known. Fernando Botero’s huge bronze sculpture, “Male Torso,” had been shown on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris and in museums in New York, Chicago, London, Buenos Aires and Tokyo before taking its place at the future site for SLS Brickell, on the corner of South Miami Avenue and 8th Street.
At the Park Grove, at 2701 South Bayshore Drive, Jaume Plensa’s “The Poets in Bordeaux (Body Soul God Country Water Fire),” created in 2012, is composed of three internally lit, color-shifting human figures, each cast in resin and sitting atop 25-foot stainless steel poles.