Students Explore South Florida's Art and Design

In early January, students who signed up for the new design history course, South Florida: Cutting Edge of American Modern, took a 10-day study trip to Miami and West Palm Beach. Led by NYSID instructor Judith Gura, the students explored South Florida's beautiful beaches and admired architecture ranging from Italian Renaissance and Mediterranean Revival to Art Deco and cutting-edge contemporary.


Along with three other students, Yashlie, Janet, and Meryl, I set out to do just what the syllabus stated and explored the sites of Miami, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables, Florida. When we signed up for this course none of us could have imagined what we were about to get ourselves into. Our instructor - Judith Gura - who has connections to the design community in Miami, acted as our personal tour guide, showing us the trendiest spots, hippest hotels, and most popular vintage architecture. With her seemingly-infinite, intriguing itinerary, she had our days packed with meetings, lectures, and tours that kept our minds captivated and our design ideas flowing. Because of her energetic attitude and knowledge of the city this trip was an informative blast!

Imagine living in a fast-paced city where you are surrounded by dynamic shapes, bright colors, warm weather and sounds of its Latin heritage.  Miami, once only reachable by boat, has been slowly transformed into a one-of-a-kind art deco city. We used our small group of five as an advantage to explore every crack and crevasse of history in this exciting city. Through touring Collins Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, old historic homes and theaters, and even getting a sneak peak into Miami’s most prestigious night club, LIV, at the Fontainebleau, we were able to see the history and culture unfold onto its architecture.

We met with well-known interior designers, architects, and collectors who all contributed to developing the city into the marvelous city it is today.  We met with Nasir Kassimali, owner and founder of Luminaire Showroom; Renee Gonzalez, an architect who designed the most expensive home in Miami, and interior designer Sam Robin, who showed us around her home office and Vizcaya, an old mansion, we explored the roots of Spanish living and how it influenced Miami’s southern-style décor.

A highlight of this trip was getting to meet with bohemian interior designer Sam Robin. Robin showed us her portfolio, including designs for one of Miami’s hottest lounges, the FDR inside the Delano Hotel. She said, “I always envision my spaces with people enveloping them. So when I chose the fabric for the lounge seating in the FDR I thought to myself what material will withstand the pointiest high heels dancing upon them?”

Over the course of ten days I was able to explore the deep roots of Miami, Coral Gables, and Palm Beach. I gained practical knowledge about Latin influence – something that cannot be taught in a classroom. We had the opportunity to meet with many people who inspired us through their work and passion for interior design. It was an experience that I will bring back with me to New York.

Deanna D’Elia is junior at NYSID in the BFA program, as well as an ASID student member. She is currently interning for DPM Architecture, working on corporate interiors.  Deanna was born in New York and lives in Colts Neck, NJ.

Phyllis Greer