The coolest hot spot in South Beach is Mynt Ultralounge, Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque's nightclub debut
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 2/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Miami nightclub owner Nicola Siervo, ex-partner of Ingrid Casares, knows what it takes to make a spot hot: a clever concept, a steady stream of sassy patrons, and a designer who can concoct an intoxicating mood with the simplest of architectural gestures. For his latest effort, Mynt Ultralounge, Siervo tapped Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque, a Miami designer with a flair for drama. "Nicola's the best host in town. He knows how to take care of people," Arcila-Duque says of his client, who requested an "urban bar that feels like it could belong anywhere in the world." Mynt is indeed sophisticated and cosmopolitan, but its pulsing beat is pure South Beach.
Arcila-Duque gutted the 8,000-square-foot space, a derelict 1950s cafeteria at South Beach's up-and-coming northern end, but preserved the original green terrazzo floor and lofty proportions. "I wanted the setting to have grandeur, like an old train station," he says. The layout is divided into three free-flowing but distinct zones—entrance, main lounge, and VIP room—by glass walls surfaced with a translucent optical film that becomes transparent when viewed at an angle. As patrons maneuver through the space, the film creates a teasing sense of mystery and discovery, approximating the hazy effects of a minty mojito setting in.
After sweet-talking their way past (or flashing enough skin at) the bouncers, club-goers enter a candlelit vestibule with low ottomans and green benches. Beyond is the 18 foot–high main lounge, illuminated by low-slung resin light fixtures, a nod to Ingo Maurer's iconic domes. Walls are steeped not in mint green—"It's very unflattering to the skin," explains Arcila-Duque—but in a deep sage that flatters both architecture and patrons.
Arcila-Duque designed a chic, modular series of Jean-Michel Frank–inspired cocktail tables, upholstered club chairs, and sofas in dark gray-stained oak to "approximate the ambience of an oversized living room." The 40-foot bar—"the longest in Miami," claims the designer—faces a wall-mounted light box of equal proportions that spans almost the entire length of the room. The light box features backlit, stylized images of beautiful people that blend with the real-life hipsters dancing on tables when the house music gets cooking around 2:30 AM.
For the VIP ultralounge at the far end of the space, Arcila-Duque fashioned a backlit acrylic bar that can be customized with different colored gels. Deep sofas and ottomans covered in rubberized white upholstery encourage guests to kick back and drink up. "It looks incredibly warm," says Arcila-Duque—and yet undeniably cool. Keep those caipirinhas coming.