Architectural Eye Candy in Art Deco Miami Beach

by Kelly Sparkes on August 16, 2012

Historic Art Deco District, MiamiThere’s a real party vibe in South Beach, but the real draw for me is the Art Deco Architecture and I was keen to do a tour to learn more.

Mr S was desperate to get on a Segway again so we compromised with an Art Deco Segway tour.  It was lots of fun whizzing up and down ocean drive and along the sea front, but the only mention of Art Deco was to say that the architecture from 5th upwards on Ocean Drive is Art Deco, not quite as in depth as I’d hoped…

The historic Art Deco district is protected by the Miami Design Preservation League, and only exists today because of the preservation efforts of Interior Designer Barbara Capitman.  Without her these beautiful Tropical Deco, pastel-hued buildings on Ocean Drive would have been destroyed and replaced with modern hotels.

Ocean Drive Miami Art Deco DistrictThe Marlin Hotel is a great example of Art Deco grandeur, with it’s symmetry, ziggurat (stepped) roofline, and curved corners.

Marlin Hotel, South Beach, Miami The vertical lines of the Beacon Hotel are emphasised with blue neon lighting.

Art Deco Beacon Hotel in Miami BeachThe Essex House Hotel is a great example of Maritime Art Deco Architecture.

Essex House Hotel in Miami Beach
Finally, the Bass Museum of Art.  I love the carvings above the doors of stylised sea gulls and boats under sunbursts.  It was built in 1930 as the Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center.

Bass Museum of Art, MiamiI prefer Miami Beach offseason, even with the humidity and heat.  It’s so much quieter and you don’t get  ‘frat’ parties in the same way.

If you visit it’s well worth going on one of the walking tours conducted by the Miami Design Preservation League  and visiting the art Deco shop afterwards. I spent lots of time in there came away with some vintage adverts (well, it is for charity).

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam Lennie August 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Big up for Ms Barbara Capitman. I love these buildings and would really like to go and see them one day, so cool. I’m sorry the tour didn’t live up to your historical expectations Kelly, as long as Mr S is content with his Segway fix. Gotta love a bit of Essex finding it’s way in there too. x

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Kelly Sparkes August 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I know, what an amazing woman, it’s hard to imagine that developers would knock down something so beautiful, even if they had fallen in to disrepair.

Mr S loved the Segway tour thanks, he made up for it by standing around for hours while I leafed through every single vintage advert in the shop.

The Essex one had to find it’s way in there, I thought of you when I put it in :) x

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Tina August 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm

I was just thinking of you… so wondered whether you would blog…. here you are!!!

I’ve not been to Miami so appreciate your photos. These are really beautiful buildings and thank god they were not knocked down. What a shame the tour wasn’t all you hoped for but I rather like that compromise of Segway/Art Deco combo…. quite original.

Anyway, both of you had some fun and that’s important! What’s next? i’m already curious.
Have a good weekend x

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Kelly Sparkes August 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Well we are back in New York now, in our final week in the Meatpacking district. Can’t believe it’s going so fast.

I don’t regret the Segway tour at all, it’s a fantastic way to see the sights, will just leave Mr S at home and do a more in depth one next time :) x

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Laura Passey August 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Lovely photography as ever, Kelly! Art Deco style is so special. It’s hard to imagine anyone going for those pastel hues now. Thank you for teaching me the technical term for those stepped rooflines, too! Laura xxx

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Kelly Sparkes August 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Thanks Laura :) I love Art Deco style, so special and I think the pastels really work because of the sun and the fact it’s a beach side resort. Not something I will be bringing home to my sleepy village :) xx

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Annie August 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm

I went to south beach a few years ago and I loved it so much. My ex spent the whole time pretending he was in Scarface. And he made me do a duck tour. I still haven’t forgiven him for that.

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geraldine August 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Hi Kelly, really lovely pictures. We stayed at the Pelican hotel more than 10 years ago, so not sure if it’s still there. The rooms were all decorated in a different style – we got art nouveau. I really love South beach, at night having dinner outside by the beach….. Did you see Versace’s home? :) x

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Kelly Sparkes September 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Hi Geraldine, I didn’t see Versace’s home unfortunately. I think you get taken past that on the walking tour.

It’s great at this time of year too as there are loads of deals on in the restaurants and Spa’s as is is the quiet season. x

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cyndi murdoch September 14, 2012 at 2:39 am

Hi Kelly: We were there last summer. I talked Mr M into a walking tour – I was amazed that he loved it! I got to ride a Segway for about a minute – almost fell off – not for me!! Art Deco is one of my favorite periods. Hope you enjoyed your time here!

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Kelly Sparkes September 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Hi Cyndi, thanks for popping over :)

You are so lucky that Mr M wanted to do a walking tour! Next time I go Mr S will be going on one, perhaps next time you go you should try the segway again, they are so much fun when you get the hang of them!

Art Deco is one of my favourite periods too, I’m really enjoying learning all about it for my Interior Design Course.

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