Miami magazine cover

Miami - November/December 2007

"The Radar Home"

Read Article

Close Window

Miami page 1   The Radar Home page 2

The Radar Home

By Christian Cipriani / Photography by Mario Alfonso

You might think that dodging cell phones and catering to absurd whims is part of the job, but high-end designers suggest that celebrity clientele aren't much different than, well, other mega wealthy people. Still, as Miami lures more high-profile residents, designers face other challenges.

A mansion remains just that until a skilled hand makes it a home and it takes a special touch. From privacy issues to staying on a—huh?—budget, working with boldface names on their most prized investment is an art unto itself.

When Tiesto—the world's most successful DJ—bought a condo last year at Craig Robins' artsy Aqua community, the Dacra head referred him to Simona Ciancetta and her team at CreaUsa. A Milan born interior designer, Ciancetta broke onto the scene with her Via Solferino showroom, introducing Miami to innovative furniture-makers like Edra and Campaña Brothers.

With the condo wrapping this month, Ciancetta says working with the superstar Dutchman was a designer's dream. "Tiesto's been my best client to date. He's down to earth and open minded, always smiling."

Tiesto came with ideas, but ultimately interfered with Ciancetta's visioon no more than she would one of his DJ sets. Free reign though is a double-edged sword—bad designers can fall to indulging their own tastes. But Ciancetta zeroed in on Tiesto's needs and hit a homerun. It's a bachelor's Candy Land— a blend of playful forms, oversized pieces and splashes of color.

The wall between the entrance and a ground-floor bedroom is now a heroic concert photo of the owner, which slides away to reveal a party lounge complete with DJ gear, flat screen TVs and a pool table. Ciancetta created whimsical motion throughout the space. Before one sheer white curtain stands a pair of sculpted armchairs by Ron Arad. Tord Boontje's podlike "Nest" chairs and an opaque, ovular glass table anchor the dining room, while in the living room, mocular sofas from Patricia Urquiola's "Highlands" series overlook a fluorescent-flecked pop painting.

Ciancetta had success with Tiesto's house because he trusted her expertise as an artist, but formal training isn't the only way to a heavy-hitters's heart. Take, for example, nightclub kingpin Michael Capponi, who, at 35, is now into another kind of house with Capponi Properties—a luxe-living one-stop that handles everything from permits to coffee tables to doorknobs. The transition is curious, but Capponi's a longtime design hobbyist who appies the same principle to designing as he does promoting—recognize tastes and fulfill them. Capponi nets high-powered clients because he's trusted.

"Celebrities are my friends," he explains. "We're in the same social world. They come to town and they stay at my house, ride my boat and come to my parties."

After two decades in nightlife, Capponi plays his "guest list" close to his vest, but says his projects include Miami Beach mansions in excess of $35 million. So, how does he design for someone who has everything?

This month Capponi cut the ribbon on a home for Market America founders J.R. and Loren Ashley Ridinger. Capponi turned their 1930s North Bay Road estate into a $6.7 million neo-classical manse dubbed Casa de Sueños ("House of Dream"). The property entertains celebrities like Jessica Simpson, Fergie, Jennifer Lopez and Mike Piazza, who married aboard Ridinger's $3.6 millioon yacht. Gilded Louis XIV-style furnishings, a partial reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and Greek statues set in French formal gardens perfectly reflect the couple's newfound status as Miami Beach royalty.

Those with enough in the bank to make Solomon blush are often more concerned with maximizing value for money than the average Joe. Capponi's remodel of 2501 Bay Avenue on Sunset Island II fetched upwards of $4 million, which is the highest recorded sale price for an existing non-waterfront property in Miami Beach history.

Like Capponi, architect and professor Allan Shulman says megabucks clients are different specifically for their privacy and desire for measurable value. While not a dance-floor dealmaker, his enviable project list would be just cause to swagger if he weren't so disarmingly mild. The Shulman touch has been applied to numerous local gems, such as Browns Hotel, Casa Casuarina, Rubell Family Collection and Sagamore Hotel.

When investment billionaire George Lindemann wanted someone to restore hes 1936 Palm Beach waterfront estate, he called Shulman to refurbish the coral keystone façade and update the interiors. The result is a delicate blend of contemporary moves housed in vintage Florida grandeur, and a level of historical preservation that will pay for itself over time.

Shulman and his counterparts know that it takes attitude to work with those accustomed to having everything.

"It's a matter of character and charisma on our part," explains Ciancetta. "In Italy, we say it's 'having balls.' [A celebrity] likes to deal with a designer who knows how to impose him or herself when needed, with the only aim being the final success of the project." ⊕

Close Window