News & Runway

A Week in South Beach: Closed Set with Julie Bensman

South Beach is known for many things: a particular low-carb diet, thriving nightlife scene and events like Art Basel, and the eponymous Food & Wine Festival. Amid all this (and certainly much more), the thing that still strikes me most about the city is its attention to design. From buildings that brought art deco into the American vernacular in the 30s to the Latin-influenced clothing and cuisine of today and the vibrant people, places, and lifestyle, it's a stylized, stylish locale where seemingly no detail has been left unscrutinized.

George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg bungalow

I was at South Beach last weekend for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim, a shoot at the Fontainebleau and Ocean Drive's issue release party with cover star, Chrissy Teigen. It may sound like a slightly chaotic itinerary but my accommodations were the perfect balance to keep mind and body sane. George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg were kind enough to pass me a set of keys to their magical North Bay Road bungalow (pictured here) — and judging from their resume, this dynamic duo knows a thing or two about good design.

"The perfect design is when all elements — materials, lighting, furniture, art, spatial volume, and sequencing of spaces — work in absolute harmony,” George told me. “When the environment comes together and it feels so right, it can be awe-inspiring. OR it can elicit the opposite effect, in that it's difficult to pinpoint what's so great about the design, but all the senses tell you it is.”

George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg bungalow

Once we unpacked and cooled off with a dip in the pool, it was off to the Diesel show, dinner at Quattro and finally, Ocean Drive's cover party at the W South Beach pool (also designed by George and Glenn, natch). The space was the perfect backdrop to celebrate one of the magazine's best covers of the year (then again, I suppose I'm a bit biased, you might remember I produced this one in the Bahamas back in April). I caught up with Ocean Drive's Events Director, Jackie Mailhe, to get her thoughts on the design of a perfect event.

“For me, perfect design is defined by how well an event flows,” Jackie said. “For example, having certain production, décor, and interactive components strategically placed throughout a space in order to maximize exposure for partners and sponsors.”

Ocean Drive party with Chunky

Ocean Drive cover party; me with photographer Chunky

Whether it's for business or pleasure, I began to think about my own definition of the perfect trip. When I was younger, it was all about going to as many parties, meeting as many people, and eating, drinking, dancing, as much as I possibly could. In my wise old age (cough), I've learned to resist the temptation to accept every invitation and focus instead on spending quality time with like-minded people who I find supportive and inspiring. At the end of the day, good company (and good weather) never disappoints.