The elevator doors open to a moody, windowless Miami Beach foyer of grooved graphite cement wall panels and a chunky pair of circa 1970s Erik Höglund mirrors above a signed Wendell Castle cabinet. In the dark, a tunnel polka-dotted with cobalt and blush resin splotches appears like a mirage, a trippy promise of something epic on the other end. In fact, this glowing beacon is a portal into something extraordinary: a 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom Miami Beach condo designed by AD100 designer Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem.
When his longtime clients—Tony-winning producer Luigi Caiola, Sean McGill, and their three teenage children—had the opportunity to purchase the apartment next door to their preexisting Miami home, they decided to merge the two together to create an entirely new space. “[Caiola and McGill] really wanted to encourage creative license,” Nahem says. “They gave us so much freedom.” Thanks to a dramatic 18-foot entrance and nearly 50-foot-long great room, Nahem had his work cut out for him. The literal light at the end of the tunnel were the floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of the city, beach, and Intracoastal Waterway.
There’s an easy flow from room to room, but each one has a distinctive personality. To fulfill his Alice in Wonderland–esque vision for the dining room, for example, Nahem tapped Tennessee-based woodworking maestro Caleb Woodard to intricately carve every centimeter of a larger-than-life botanical wall that crawls up the ceiling, eliminating any need for a chandelier over the simple resin table and mix of floral Louis Vuitton and wooden Ruemmler chairs. Elsewhere, he got experimental with artist Elyse Graham on a bathroom encased in her exuberant graphic resin work.
Nahem first connected with Hoon Kim, who created the tone-setting tunnel and several other resin wall coverings, through Instagram. Ditto Vanessa Barragão, the Portuguese ecological textile artist whom Nahem commissioned to create the primary bedroom’s colossal, creeping coral reef of a rug and headboard. “[For] somebody who started working without even the Internet, and evolved to shopping around the globe [online] this has been an amazing experience,” Nahem says of his experience connecting with artisans via social media. “It’s a whole new world.”
What is more, there are surprises around every turn. Take for example the seashell-and-mother-of-pearl-clad powder room situated behind a secret tunnel door, or the kitchen, which is funky and fun thanks to its oversized pastel powder coated aluminum pulls, exposed shelves, and Pia Maria Raeder sea anemone chandelier. “This project, in my opinion, could have easily turned into a three-ring circus,” Nahem says. But as wild as the home’s furnishings and wall coverings arguably get, plenty of them are rather innocuous. Most walls are plaster, while the floors and ceilings are a clean and consistent palette of white oak engineered planks into which Nathan Orsman incorporated LED strips in tiny slits to maintain ceiling heights.
In crafting the happy home, his clients were yes people through and through. “Enthusiastic is one of the best words you could use to describe them,” Nahem says. “Trusting, excited, and very nice too.”