Appreciating Morris Lapidus

stairwayI’m finishing a fascinating new book that references Morris Lapidus (1902-2001), the remarkable architect who died 13 years ago this month. Lapidus became best known for his neo-baroque “Miami Modern” Fontainebleau (1954) and Eden Roc (1955-56) hotels in Miami Beach, featuring dramatic public spaces that provided visitors with a sense of adventure and escape. Oh, and don’t forget that infamous stairway to nowhere.

But, before Lapidus gave us those now-famous architectural details dubbed woogles, beanpoles and cheese holes, he embraced store design as a profession after earning his architectural degree from Columbia University in 1927. (He also dabbled in stage design, costuming and acting as an undergrad at NYU.) He would go on to work with Ross-Frankel, a firm specializing in retail storefronts, for 15 years. Continue reading →

Destiny USA Offers Sustainable Bliss

DestinyusaIgnorance used to be bliss. But, not anymore. As our knowledge about the state of our environment grows, we are forced to find ways to honor our environment and expand our human potential.

Destiny USA, a shopping center in Syracuse, N.Y., seems to understand this on a massive level. The 2.4 million sq. ft. “destination” (as its being called) is now the sixth-largest shopping center in the United States, and is in the running to be the nation’s largest LEED Gold-Certified commercial retail project. In addition, it expects to have more than 100 of its retail tenants also be LEED-certified. Continue reading →

Is Nudity the Next Big Thing in Visual Merchandising?

Coffeenudity It had been a long drive down Washington State’s I-5 when my guy and I realized we needed some serious coffee support to keep going. We took the first exit we could, cheering when we saw a coffee cart immediately to our left.

He was driving, and quickly placed our order. I (in my usual fashion) flipped down the visor to smooth my hair and gloss my lips.

“Um, hunny.”

“Yeah, babe.”

“That girl isn’t really wearing any clothes. “

I quickly turned to take a look, only to stare directly at a pink lace thong. My mouth wide open, I readjusted in my seat, staring back at him. Continue reading →

Heaven on Ocean Drive

The-Betsy-Hotel-9 Let's face it…hotels in Miami's South Beach (SoBe) district are all over the place. In terms of quality, it’s got it all—ranging from well known, big-name chains like the Loews and the newly opened W South Beach, to the infamous (and uber-expensive) Delano to the dozens of boutique hotels and a handful of cheap (and dirty) holes in the wall.

Any SoBe hotel search on TripAdvisor will return results that would shock—and likely terrify—even the most seasoned of travelers. With nearly every hotel in SoBe boasting a “great location” (perched atop a nightclub that parties till 7 a.m.) and  “excellent amenities” (cockroaches with your turn-down service and a used bar of soap with a few stray hairs), choosing a hotel in SoBe is quite the daunting task. Continue reading →

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I don’t consider myself an expert food maven or restaurant critic, but I do know a few things here and there about what makes a great customer experience—whether it be a shopping or dining environment. And conversely, I also know what makes one horrible. Allow me to explain and entertain you with the details…

Firstly, I’ve never been a fan of Las Vegas—I don’t gamble, have no interest in seeing The Thunder from Down Under and find Barry Manilow intensely creepy. Combine that with the stale-cigarette-scented casino aroma looming around every corner, which makes me want to yak, and that pretty much closes the deal. Continue reading →