Financially and let’s face it, probably emotionally, cut-off by a clearly homophobic father, Leonard Horowitz arrived in Miami from New York in 1976 to live with his mum. This wasn’t his first trip to Miami, but it was the first time he intended to stay. Horowitz and his partner in pastel-painted crime, Barbara Capitman, bonded over a mutual appreciation of art deco architecture and formed the Miami Design Preservation League. They worked to get South Beach’s distinctive take on streamline moderne architecture, a pared-back subset of more widely known art deco, secured on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Dreaming in colour
An interior and furniture designer, among other design related trades, Leonard was the mastermind behind a united colour scheme that would put South Beach back on the map. Amidst the controversy that inevitably arises with innovation, Leonard pursued his sorbet-hued dream for the bland, vandalised and decaying architectural gems. His choice of palette not only sets South Beach apart from many coastal destinations, it helped to revive South Beach into trendy, cosmopolitan SoBe as it is commonly known. The heart-lifting hues are as timeless as the glowing sunrises and fiery sunsets, seasonally shifting blue-greens of the ocean and golden sands that inspired them. Here are some of my favourite pastel moments from my afternoon languishing in this architectural and pastel paradise.
“I’ll take care of the buildings. I’ll do the frosting on the cake,” said Horowitz, referring to the architecture of the South Beach art deco district.
Ways to experience the South Beach Art Deco District
- Visit the Miami Design Preservation League Welcome Center and Art Deco Museum at 1001 Ocean Drive. Here you can also pick up an audio tour guide to complete at your own pace.
- Take a self-guided walking tour with this guide on Free Tours by Foot.
- Take a combination culinary and architectural tour and eat your way through the District with Miami Food Tours or Miami Culinary Tours.
- Join the festivities of the yearly Art Deco Weekend, a huge community event.