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Kara Franker | Photo: Barry Grossman | July 14, 2014
A theatrical client favors steampunk style to contrast with Florida’s colors.
For their latest interior design project, Raymond Jimenez and Shannon Scott, principals of the Miami-based firm RS3 Designs, flew to Chicago for inspiration and immersed themselves in the day-to-day life of their client, theater director and professor Brian Posen. “He wanted to bring a piece of Chicago to Florida,” Jimenez explains. “So we incorporated rustic and worn surfaces throughout the home.”
At first (or second) glance, the client’s preference for steampunk style—an aesthetic mashup of neo-Victorian, futurism and 19th century industrial design, perhaps best illustrated by Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film Brazil—doesn’t seem to blend with the tropical landscape in South Florida. The rough, imperfect surfaces, not to mention the smoky palette, directly oppose Miami’s sunny colors, pristine lines and art deco architecture. But Posen is his own man. What started out as a condo stuck in the ’70s, complete with a kitschy blue toilet, quickly turned into a scene pulled from a page in a 19th century-inspired sci-fi novel. “We literally brought everything down to concrete and worked from a blank slate,” Scott says. And they did it in 90 days.
The designers layered steampunk-inspired elements throughout the two-bedroom condo. Think distressed wood, imperfect lines, iron mixed with brass detailing and reinforced metals. In the foyer, the Andrew Martin wallpaper suggests the interior of an antique bank with the repeated images of dark, security deposit boxes lining the walls. In the kitchen there are black, distressed shaker cabinets from Smartrooms and Opustone frappucino-colored quartzite countertops with a leather finish. “We had to hone down the countertops, to give them a matte, smooth finish like a table,” Jimenez says. “When you touch it, it doesn’t feel like marble. It feels more like leather.”
The rough-hewn look continues with reclaimed hand-scraped barn wood floors from Deco 27. All the doors throughout the home were painted black, save for the entrance to the master bathroom: There RS3 Designs installed a nearly 7-foot-by-5-foot door, constructed of barn siding from Rustica Hardware. It sits on a heavy, metal iron track and slides from one side to the other, courtesy of an integrated iron handle.
“We had the barn door closed when we presented the home to the client for the first time,” Scott says. “And when he opened it and saw the contrast between the rustic doors and the clean lines of the subway tile in the bathroom, his face was priceless.” To strike a contrast against the white surface, the designers used dark brown grout between the subway tiles.
In the guest bathroom, the designers wrapped pewter bronze subway tile up three walls and onto the ceiling, and installed classic silver travertine tile on the back wall. Inspired by Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the Jalan Jalan wall mirrors are actually restored portal holes from an old yacht. “The tiles and plumbing fixtures from Waterworks have an industrial and mechanical type of feel,” Jimenez says. “It’s engineered and worn, but manly and tough.”
Heading into the master bedroom, the Andrew Martin wallpaper echoes the look of a gentleman’s pinstripe suit, and the thick, shag rug on the floor (from Design Within Reach) not only softens up the distressed and rustic surfaces, but it also contradicts the lightness of the ocean views seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows. “The two cities and the two styles are fighting each other,” Scott concedes. “There’s no doubt about it.”
“But this is his personality interpreted through interior design,” Jimenez says of their client. “This is him. He was so pleased with the results, that he asked us to design his four-story home in Chicago.”
No worries about the juxtaposition of the tropics there.