Tui Pranich & Associates struts its stuff at a new Miami showroom by Hariri & Hariri
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 2/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Miami's design community is doubly blessed. Trade practitioners have easy access to the country's largest and most comprehensive showroom campus, the Design Center of the Americas, as well as the downtown Design District, a funky neighborhood of storefronts and warehouses featuring slightly edgier fare. For Tui Pranich, whose U.S. showrooms represent almost 60 high-end furniture lines, ranging from the traditional to the contemporary, it made sense to have a presence in both places at once. A decade after opening his popular DCOTA location, he sought a second outpost to feature more experimental offerings in an experimental context. As luck would have it, 5,000 square feet on the high-profile corner of 39th Street and Second Avenue became available for lease. Rather than design the space himself, as he had in the past, he enlisted his college chums Gisue Hariri and Mojgan Hariri—sisters and partners in the New York architecture firm Hariri & Hariri—to do the honors.
"Tui wanted a flexible design that could potentially be rolled out in other locations worldwide but connects both culturally and architecturally to Miami," says Gisue Hariri. The sisters proved a quick study in discerning what makes the city—particularly its design scene—tick. Miami, she explains, is "exhibitionistic, alive, relaxed, and voyeuristic." The Hariris envisioned a "beautiful, empty space" reminiscent of an art gallery and carefully tailored to the local culture's see-and-be-seen vibe.
To achieve a commanding street presence—and gain almost 300 square feet to boot—the Hariris pushed the curtain wall out 60 inches and wrapped the showroom in a continuous band of fenestration. From the sidewalk, the elevated showroom "looks like a vitrine," says Gisue Hariri. From within, patrons have the sense of being marooned on an island, a feeling reinforced by the moat of low stucco-faced pools encircling the perimeter. "There are fountains and pools everywhere in Miami. We wanted to bring this familiar, vernacular element inside," she explains. Like an underground stream bubbling to the surface, the pool element reappears along the base of the 100 foot–long concrete wall that screens back-of-house operations from the sales floor. The Hariris designed cantilevered walnut platforms to provide additional display space along the troughs throughout the showroom.
And talk about exhibitionistic: Gisue Hariri joyfully recalls the showroom launch, when Pranich enlisted scantily clad dancers to sashay on said platforms. Not quite what the designers originally had in mind, she admits with a laugh, but they were nonetheless delighted with the felicitous dovetailing of exhibition and exhibitionism.