Ralph Pucci brings his stable of design-world luminaries to Miami with a brand-new showroom in Wynwood.
BY TALI JAFFE PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTOINE BOOTZ
“We didn’t want to open Miami with pieces that have already been proven successful,” says Ralph Pucci, from his latest outpost in Miami’s burgeoning Wynwood Arts District. “We wanted to stretch the limits and take it to another level here. This showroom is equal to those in New York and L.A.” Enter the light and airy space, and you’re instantly charged by Pucci’s enthusiasm for beautiful, sculptural furniture and artful design pieces. And, while there are a handful of recognizable names and silhouettes in sight— Eric Schmitt, Hervé Van Der Straeten, Vladimir Kagan—what greets visitors when they go inside the 6,500-square-foot gallery are fresh designs exclusive to the market. “There’s got to be a reason for people to come here, and that’s why we’re showing these pieces that have never been seen in the United States before.”
For Pucci—whose career began when he took over his parents’ mannequin production company in the ‘70s and then expanded into furniture and lighting production—opening in Wynwood is almost full circle. The warehouses that now boast gallery spaces and restaurants were once filled with shoe boxes, garment racks and other less-than-glamorous elements of a fashion district that still has a place there among the graffiti-soaked walls currently best associated with the neighborhood.
“I really like the attitude of this area,” says Pucci. “I think when places become predictable, they start to become boring. Wynwood is all about exploring new things, and it’s one of the most exciting areas—if not the most exciting area—in the United States right now.”
To keep up with that excitement, Pucci opened his showroom during Art Basel last December with “a sort of group show” of exclusive works from his stable of designers—many whose careers he helped launch—including Patrick Naggar, Jérôme Abel Seguin, Eric Schmitt and Hervé Van Der Straeten. But presenting beautiful, rare furniture isn’t the only thing Pucci is about.
“I’d love to have a musical quartet play here while modern dancers intermingle with the furniture, just to bring more excitement to the space,” he says. “All my designers are truly artists—they’re visionaries, in my opinion. They’re influenced by fashion, photography and modern art. I think that’s what Pucci is all about—to intermingle all the different arts.”
Pucci’s stable continues to grow, most recently with the representation of French designer Elizabeth Garouste, who split with Swiss-born designer Mattia Bonetti. Pucci plans to show Garouste’s work in New York this fall and in Miami next year. When pressed to share his plans for the next show in Wynwood, Pucci has no shortage of ideas, rattling off names like Abigail Simpson, a British ceramicist; Patrick Naggar, “who’s producing his best work ever right now;” and Andrée Putman, who first designed a mannequin for the company in 1985 and whose estate he now represents, working with Putman’s daughter, Olivia.
“Miami is sitting on such an opportunity for the arts, real estate and just everything because there’s freedom,” says Pucci. “And when there’s freedom, that’s when creativity really happens. New York is starting to become predictable, and I’m doing everything possible not to become predictable.”