A Design Hound's Private Tour of Miami

Fernanda Bourlot of Simplemente Blanco takes us to sunny Florida for a tour of her favorite haunts, shops, and restaurants.

Fernanda, who owns the beautiful home accessories boutique Simplemente Blanco (in SoWa), was designated one of the Globe's most stylish people in 2007. In this post, she tells us how to shop Miami's Design District.

Last week I took advantage of the fact that my husband had to do some work in Miami and went down to South Beach for a weekend jaunt. Well, the reality is that if I didn’t hop on a plane and meet him, I wouldn’t see him at all. He’s a globetrotter—up and down, south and north, from Europe to America, from India to Turkey—so if I can squeeze in some time with him, I’m happy.

The beaches, the hotels, the water.

Anyway I packed up my bikinis and strapless dresses, and looked forward to a wonderful “summer weekend” in Florida. Of course, it turned out to be the coldest weekend ever (so they said). Still, it was warmer there than here, but not quite bikini-appropriate.

So instead of lounging by the pool, I decided to explore the design community. This is something I do whenever I visit a city in the States or in Europe. One-of-a-kind and owner-operated shops are always my favorites.

Here we go!

Miami's Design District is packed with amazing stores, and unlike Boston, you can step in and out of the sunshine whenever you need a reality check.

Miami’s Design District is different from our Boston Design Center as it features blocks and blocks of shops and mixes home design with fashion and accessories. Still, it’s in a nice, compact area, easy to shop.

CLIMA is so white and airy, a dream come true.

My first stop was CLIMA, an outdoor furniture store which carries a brand I adore: GANDIA BLASCO. This company is based in Valencia, Spain, where my father was born (I still have cousins there), and I’ve been to their European headquarters.

Just me and a few of my beautiful friends on Gandia Blasco.

Gandia Blasco’s white modern furniture and their incredible catalogues, shot in the Mediterranean, bring me to that that special place—the closest thing I know to heaven on earth. (Gandia Blasco is also available in Boston at Montage.)

After Clima, I arrived at INTERNUM, right around the corner. It’s a big showroom and they carry all the Italian brands, such as Cappellini, Gervasoni, Arketipo, Baxter, Casa Milano, and Giorgio Collection. All their stuff is minimal and modern, which reminds me of the kind of work that I used to do when I was living in Buenos Aires—clean, uncluttered, and serious.

The Holly Hunt showroom.

Christian Liaigre for Holly Hunt.

Holly Hunt was on the same block. Her showrooms are always a feast for the eyes, packed with amazing products, modern, but also timeless. Her liaison with designer Christian Liaigre has been extremely fruitful. Together, they do a lot with black iron and very stylized contours. I also admire her lighting—amazingly clean-looking. Holly Hunt’s showroom has high ceilings with a skylight in middle. Natural light makes whites look even whiter.

Dining at Holly Hunt.

The Holly Hunt showroom also features a big kitchen where you can sit down and order a cup coffee or something to eat.

Oh, look! It's NIBA Home.

NIBA storefront.

NIBA is on 39th Street, another critical stop. Owner Nisi Berryman has wonderful stuff—lighting from Ochre, wallpapers, vintage pieces, original art, pillows and other home furnishings, and an entire wall devoted to the latest beautiful design books.

Purple and orange on display at NIBA.

Selections from Baltus.

The Baltus showroom.

Opposite Niba is BALTUS, a Spanish company that makes modern, elegant high-end furnishings. Their corner showroom was breathtaking. Take home any piece and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation all year round. I just loved it all—those white couches and chairs and tables with the sun reflecting off their tops—it was instant Bahamas!

After all that shopping, I needed a rest so I stopped at Mai Tardi on 39th for some amazing northern Italian food. Amazing.

The iconic Margiela sign.

Ready for more, I decided to explore fashion and all the top brands are scattered along the way, from Christian Louboutin, and Marni. Plus, Maison Martin Margiela, is one of my all-time favorites ever because he does all white of course! I’d stumbled on this store in Paris in 2002 and was thrilled to see it here.

Tomas Maier also has a beautiful store where you can find clothing, but also art, books, music…you name it!

Switching out bikinis for hats and coats on Miami Beach. Getty Images

Finally, it was warm enough to put on a bikini on and run on the beach…not. False alarm! The winds were so strong that I had to find shelter to prevent myself from flying off like a kite.

Bianca at the Delano.

So I scored a table at Bianca, the lounge and restaurant at the Delano Hotel. The whole complex is brand new—they just opened their doors couple of weeks ago—and it promises to be an amazing culinary experience, as pitch-perfect as the rest of the hotel. I enjoyed sitting at the gallery, looking at the pool, surrounded by all the rich foliage. I could have spent the entire afternoon there.

Bianca, poolside.

Not quite warm enough for me.

The hotel was designed by Philippe Stark and it settled right into the Art Deco district—truly one of the best places ON EARTH. I adore the wonderful lobby and white suites which make it the perfect destination for rest and design enjoyment. But the pool, surrounded by the bungalows, are something spectacular, especially at sunset when everything looks it’s silver coated and sun-kissed!

Mega-sized chess pieces in the garden.

Hope you enjoyed your private tour of my favorite Miami places! xoFernanda

See our post her about her shop, Simplemente Blanco, here.