A Midcentury Modern Miami Home with Art Deco Furnishings


Modern Neutral Foyer with Buddha Head Statue

The foyer of the master suite features an 18th-century Tibetan Buddha head atop a 1930s ebony-and-opaline-glass table from the owners’ collection. The Art Nouveau bedroom door and Deco chrome urns perched atop Macassar columns add opulence. The owner bought Ganarsa, an Indonesian oil-on-wood, in Bali.

Modern Neutral Bedroom Sitting Area with Antique Column

In the master sitting area, an antique Indian maharaja bed was repurposed as a coffee table. It sits between custom-designed chaises, which feature tufted backs and Holland & Sherry suede. A 19th-century Buddha reclines near an antique column.

Modern White Kitchen with Steel Cabinetry

The custom kitchen was designed by HausScape and Montoya. A vintage chrome-and-glass table and chairs covered in Edelman leather gather in the adjacent breakfast nook.

Modern Neutral Courtyard with Indian Temple Wall Relief

A wall relief from a Southeast Indian temple graces the entry courtyard.

Modern Neutral Staircase with Multiple Sculptures

International flair is ever-present throughout the home. A Qing dynasty white Taihu scholar rock originating from Jiangsu guards the stairs to the second floor. In a niche on the upper landing is a sculpture by Egyptian artist Alfons Louis, which the owner bought at Safar Khan Gallery in Cairo.

Modern Neutral Living Room with Custom Ultrasuede Sofa

The custom living room sofa wears Holly Hunt ultrasuede with pillows in coordinating Lelievre fabric. In the entry hall beyond, a circular chandelier casts light on a bronze nude by Lucien Gibert from the gallery Makassar-France in Paris.

Modern White Corridor with Ancient Stone Altar Table

The corridor leading from the front door is laid with black and white Turkish marbles. Montoya designed the Deco-style sconces and the mirror. They keep company with an ancient stone altar table from a southern Indian temple. The ceiling fans are from Lunatika.

Modern Neutral Exterior Vignette with Balinese Sculpture

A stone sculpture from Bali meditates within a niche of hedges and graceful palms.

Modern White Dining Room with Indian Marble Colonnades

The dining room features Chinese laundry chests from Hong Kong and marble colonnades from India. Designer Juan Montoya enlarged a photo the homeowner snapped in Nairobi and designed the tufted bench with Holly Hunt ultrasuede. The 1960s chairs were found at the Miami Antique & Design Expo.

Midcentury Modern Exterior with Art Deco Doors

In light of the breadth of the owners’ collection of antiquities from around the world, Brockhouse and Naranjo created a marble façade to conjure a museum-like aesthetic. Imported black stone pilasters frame the 24-foot-high Deco ‘X’ entry doors, establishing a sense of grandeur.

Modern White Hall with Large Sculpture

In the entry hall a bronze nude by Lucien Gibert is from the gallery Makassar-France in Paris.

Modern White Poolside Area with Moroccan Antiques

A multilevel lounging area around the pool creates a resort-like atmosphere. The furnishings are custom designs by Montoya, and the lanterns are Moroccan antiques.

Astrologer, writer and fashion designer Lisa Sydney is not your typical client. For one thing, reading your astrological chart is often a prerequisite to hiring. For another, she insists that all work stops during the three weeks when Mercury is in retrograde. Which could explain, at least partially, why the spectacular residence she shares with her husband in Miami Beach took two and a half years to complete.

By all accounts, however, it was worth the wait. The original inspiration was Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. Certainly the home’s ambitions have a similar sense of grand vision, one Lisa was able to realize with the help of New York-based designer Juan Montoya, and architect Bruce Brockhouse and his colleague Al Naranjo. “When I did Juan’s chart, I immediately saw that there was a cosmic connection,” Lisa recalls. “His planetary positions reflected luxury, an eye for detail and a shared mutual vision for our collection of antiquities, and that he would complement my Leo need for grand-scale glamour combined with comfort.”

Montoya immediately saw how another passion of Lisa’s, a love for all things Art Deco, could complement and enhance her extensive collection of art and artifacts from around the world. “Art Deco design of the 1920s had a huge influence throughout the world,” he explains, “in Jaipur, in China, in Egypt. I’ve done a lot of homes in Paris in buildings from the height of this era. But here, the mélange was more important than simply using pieces by Ruhlmann, Rateau or Frank.”

That said, period Deco furnishings are certainly, you could say, in the ascendant: Lalique sconces above two Raymond Subes consoles in the entry hall; chandeliers from Murano (discovered by the owner during a trip to Argentina) suspended in the stairwell; and Lisa’s extravagant black-and-white makeup area, which clearly led a former life as a dressing room for Jean Harlow.

But these seamlessly blend with more exotic fare. Visitors walk under marble arches from an Indian gazebo to reach the dining room, for example. Once there, they find themselves in the company of mid-century modern dining chairs, which gather around a Macassar ebony table illuminated by an Art Deco pendant and flanked by massive antique Chinese laundry chests. The popular cocktail lounge off the foyer assembles together an ancient Indian jali (perforated marble window screen), African figures, Haitian artwork, a Moroccan lantern and prints by Robert Motherwell. In the master bedroom, deeply tufted upholstered walls provide an interesting backdrop for a painting of a nude that once hung in an Indonesian palace.

Curating Lisa’s immense collection, in fact, was one of Montoya’s major challenges. “She probably had 20 Buddhas, out of which perhaps two could be used,” he recalls. “You have to edit to let each piece breathe.”

For the architect, giving these pieces enough room to breathe, of course, involved working at an impressive scale, starting with the entrance. In light of the breadth of the owners’ collection of antiquities from around the world, Brockhouse and Naranjo created a marble façade to conjure a museum-like aesthetic. Imported black stone pilasters frame the 24-foot-high Deco ‘X’ entry doors, establishing a sense of grandeur. Once inside, says Naranjo, “There’s a sense of procession as you advance through the house. Everything is designed to draw you through to the end of the journey at the beautiful Biscayne Bay waterfront.”

Further complicating things was the fact that the design, both interior and exterior, kept evolving. Lisa might be led by some divine planetary conjunction to fantastic new objects for her ever-expanding collection, or she would be struck by a new karmic idea that had to be incorporated. “We would have our creative charettes in a dining room,” remembers Brockhouse, “with literally a library’s worth of books collected in groupings for each room.”

The team’s meticulous attention to every detail, however, paid off and the stars aligned, especially for Lisa. “I wanted to be awed,” she says. “And I’m still awed every day.”

—Jorge S. Arango