Dacra's Craig Robins on the most important things on his desk

The developer and art connoisseur takes a break from Art Basel festivities to discuss the pieces he treasures most

Dec.December 30, 2019 01:00 PM

Craig Robins (Photos by Sonya Revell)

From paintings on the wall to colorful doodles on his desk, Dacra CEO Craig Robins’ office is a veritable gallery, where even the furniture carries an artistic pedigree.

Working out of the fourth floor of 3841 Northeast Second Avenue in the Miami Design District, Robins spearheaded the transformation of the once-gritty neighborhood into a luxury shopping, dining and cultural destination.

Robins, 56, began investing in the Design District in the mid-1990s, after success as one of the early South Beach redevelopers. With partners, he has developed hotels, offices, condos and retail spaces in Miami Beach, including some on Lincoln Road. “It was clear the next place Miami Beach needed to grow was over the bridge,” he said.

Robins and his partner, LVMH affiliate L Catterton Real Estate, each own 38.75 percent of the district, with Brookfield Property Partners owning another 22.5 percent.

Dacra and L Catterton have so far developed 1 million square feet in the Miami Design District, now occupied by 200 tenants, including retailers and restaurants. Robins said foot traffic in the district grew more than 40 percent in 2019 compared to the year before and that sales rose 30 percent year-over-year as well. Warby Parker and Alexander McQueen are among the retailers opening there soon.

The partners also hold development rights for another 2 million square feet in the neighborhood, where they can build hotels, offices and residential projects.

In addition, Robins is the chairman of DesignMiami/, an annual design fair in which galleries exhibit fine art, furniture and lighting during Art Basel. Ever since he began collecting during college in Barcelona, the Miami native has amassed a collection of more than 1,000 works, with 235 artworks on display in his companies’ two floors.

“Art defines what our business is about,” he said of his development firm, “because we invest equally in creativity and culture as we do in creative neighborhoods for creative businesses and creative people to work and live.”

Here are some of the most treasured items in Robins’ office.

Z-car
The late architect and designer Zaha Hadid designed the prototype for a car, which Robins bought from her dealer. “Zaha was a very close personal friend,” he said, calling her “one of the most creative talents of her generation in any category.”

A tree sculpture by Urs Fischer
“Urs is an extremely significant artist, and I collect him,” Robins said. Fischer designed the bus stop sculpture in the Design District, which features a skeleton lying down with a permanent puddle underneath it.

Portrait of Jack Tilton by Marlene Dumas
“He was a close friend and art adviser who passed away two years ago,” Robins said of Tilton. “It’s not only a beautiful work of art, but it’s a close friend who is no longer with us but is still with me.”

Solo cup sculpture by Paula Crown
Crown, who designed a large-scale Solo cup sculpture erected in the Design District in 2018, gave Robins the small cup sculpture as a gift

Doodles by Robins
He often draws on a pad when he’s on the phone. “Since law school, when I concentrate, I draw.”

Photo with his wife, Jackie Soffer
The photo was taken the day before their wedding at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee in 2015. Soffer is the CEO of Turnberry Associates, which has a majority interest in Aventura Mall. She is co-developing North Miami’s Solé Mia project with Richard LeFrak.

Clay chair by Maarten Baas
Baas won the DesignMiami/ Designer of the Year Award in 2009. “This is where I sit when I have meetings, little conferences,” Robins said.


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