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By Shayne Benowitz | Photo: by Troy Campbell | Interiors by Porsche Design/Michael Wolk Design Associates | April 4, 2018
Michael Wolk took on the revved-up task of designing the first-ever Porsche Design Tower—in collaboration with the iconic automobile brand.
When versatile designer Michael Wolk was tapped by a longtime collaborator, developer Gil Dezer, to design the interiors for the groundbreaking Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach, he was presented with a unique set of parameters. The 60-story ultra-luxury tower—already illustrious for its patented, first-of-its-kind robotic automobile elevator that delivers vehicles and their owners directly to their units—would be Porsche Design Group’s first foray into the residential real estate market. The interiors required a specific vision inspired by the iconic automobile brand.
Wolk’s eponymous studio Michael Wolk Design Associates was presented with a set of design standards, and they worked collaboratively with the vehicle brand, with Porsche signing off on every detail. With architectural design by Sieger Suarez Architects, the tower was completed in January 2017.
“Porsche Design, they’re incredible industrial designers, but there was a major gap between the vision and what we needed to do to accomplish it,” says Dezer, president of Dezer Development, which owns over 27 acres of oceanfront property in South Florida and is a pioneer of the Sunny Isles Beach luxury condominium market. “That’s where Michael came in. You know, execution is harder than inspiration. When it comes to custom design, there’s a reason he’s known as the best.”
The classic automobile is the design touchstone, so the tower’s interiors are engineered with leather, steel, wood and flat black chrome with a precise color palette of black, gray, silver and “Porsche orange,” which is interpreted in a range of shades from subdued tobacco to fire engine red. The only finishes not found inside a Porsche are the black marble floors and stone throughout.
“It could have been a study in total minimalism, but it’s not,” Wolk says. “It’s not all hard edges. We found softness in the curves of the leather chairs and the warmth of the wood finishes.”
In the lobby, a pair of monumental, three-story backlit “exploded aluminum” decorative walls frame the cylindrical space where the central glass-enclosed car elevators (trademarked “Dezervator” after the visionary developer) are encircled by a wide black marble hall. Residents can watch as their neighbors’ prized vehicles whoosh to their high-tech garages in the sky. It’s a futuristic scene that could be straight out of Blade Runner.
The aluminum walls sparkle like tinsel for an undeniable touch of glitz, amplified by the lobby’s abundant reflective surfaces. The effect evokes a revved-up interpretation of the Porsche’s dramatic grill and headlights. “The walls are an organic source of ambiguous light, and it really sets the tone for the building when you walk in,” Wolk says.
As one traverses the lobby, seating vignettes appear in triplicate around the Dezervator like spokes in a wheel. Grounded by natural oak wood floors, each is fashioned with a custom gray upholstered sofa and four low-slung tobacco leather chairs with metal legs, pitched back as if propelled by the speed of a racecar. The scene is crowned with a rectangular light halo.
Walls are alternately covered in leather panels with topstitch piping reminiscent of a car’s upholstery, brushed metal and natural oak with a tidy, linear veneer. Curvaceous steel columns protrude around the bends, with metal tubing marking passageways. You feel at once inside the automobile’s architecture and on the road with it, zipping through hairpin turns. “Interpreting Porsche on a larger palette required more complexity,” says Wolk. “We really went through each space with a fine-tooth comb to refine and re-see it.”
At the rear of the lobby, a lounge with a black modernist fireplace and an enormous nine-paneled flat-screen TV embedded into a wall opens up to floor-to-ceiling ocean views. Here, a surprising ode to the natural world is found with the bar, which was fashioned out of a single tree trunk sourced in Thailand (fabricated by Phillips Collection). The piece is sculpted and finished with all of its knots and grain exposed and topped with a sheet of glass, like a windshield, for protection. “It balances out the design’s minimalism and makes for a great conversation piece,” Wolk notes. “The contrast with the glass actually accentuates the irregularities of the wood.”
The adjacent restaurant plays up the drama of the Porsche orange continuum with red leather bench and banquette seating beneath a stunning sculptural custom light fixture made of a series of floating Plexiglass rectangles with red LED lighting. “It gives the effect of stars shining and plays with the repetition of forms, from the rectangular dining tables to the wood-paneled walls,” Wolk says.
This twinkling effect relates back to the exploded aluminum walls in the lobby and also to the fifth-floor spa’s starlit ceiling and Vichy shower room with a light-dappled wall, all finished in dramatic black marble stone. The spa is part of Porsche Design Tower’s suite of amenities, including a lavish multipurpose clubroom boasting a movie theater, racecar simulator and pool table.
With the tower complete, Wolk is currently designing the interiors for the owner of one of the four-story, 20,000-square-foot penthouses. Of the 132 units, about half a dozen are still on the market, starting with three-bedroom floor plans at 4,800 square feet priced from $6.3 million. A model unit designed by Artefacto is available to view. So for those who dream of a home in the sky with a Porsche parked outside their door, there’s a designer who knows every twist and turn.
BON VIVANT CUSTOMWOODWORKING
Restaurant large dining tables
NEW DESIGN FURNITURE
Lobby sofas, coffee tables
Lobby COR leather chairs