AEI, one of the largest commercial interior design firms in Latin America, has opened its first office in the United States in Miami’s Brickell area to oversee and expand its South Florida projects.
Juliana Fernandez, a founding partner of the Bogota-based firm, is leading the Miami office with local partner David Chason, who has been in the South Florida market since 1988 and previously opened the Miami offices of such architecture and design firms as Gensler and HOK, Fernandez told The Real Deal.
The Miami office initially has a staff of four who deal with clients, while the design work is handled out of Bogota with designers flying into Miami for meetings. That scenario, coupled with the devaluation of the Colombian currency, allows the company to keep its costs low, she said.
“Were charging twice as much as we charge in Latin America but we’re still half the price of other firms here,” Fernandez told TRD. “And South Florida is a stepping stone for the rest of the United States.”
The Miami office, called AEI U.S. Studio, is currently handling four local projects: the interiors of the 137-unit condominium Naranza at Edgewater, Paramount Residential Mortgage Group’s Miramar offices, as well as the headquarters for a dermatology office and a law firm. AEI has also done design work for Holland & Knight at its Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta offices, and recently completed the San Francisco office for the software company Globant. Fernandez said the firm has completed a total of more than 150 projects in New York and South Florida.
Founded more than 20 years ago, AEI also has satellite offices in Panama City and Medellin, Colombia. Here, AEI U.S. Studio is operating out of space at WeWork at 2 Brickell City Centre, which coincides with its aim to keep costs down. “Do clients really want to pay for real estate and overhead,” Fernandez said, “or do they want amazing design?”