Project Paola Navone
Photos courtesy of Como Hotels and Resorts
Text Antonella Boisi

A new not-to-be-missed address for aficionados of Art Basel Design Miami, a versatile district of international events and activities, between art, design and fashion.

The Metropolitan by COMO hotel in Miami Beach is the second creation of Paola Navone for the COMO Hotels and Resorts by Christina Ong brand, after Point Yamu in Phuket, Thailand (cfr. INTERNI, n.640, April 2014). It is a must not so much because it is an urban hotel, born as the Traymore in 1920, that like many others here has direct beach access and flourishing tropical vegetation, but because of its overtones of Great Gatsby style, Art Deco atmosphere, reinterpreted in an experimental way thanks to the design intervention of Paola Navone, who has managed to transform constraints into opportunities. How to come to terms with a work of architecture listed by the Historic Preservation Board of the city since 1930, a place of white, clear, linear geometric forms and large windows underlined by horizontal floor markers with curved protruding borders? Such features cannot be touched. The same goes for the lobby, with graniglia flooring in pastel tones – yellow, pink, aqua green – and monumental white columns that add rhythm to the space. “We cleaned everything up” Paola Navone explains, “taking it back to its beginnings in terms of style, colors, materials, but attempting to ‘translate’ the existing decorative language into something special and contemporary, to correspond to Christina Ong’s way of interpreting hospitality and wellness. With COMO, we share the idea that exclusivity is a matter of simplicity, respect for traditions and the spirit of the place. So we have sought out a kind of complicity with the spaces, through soft, light solutions made of small things from different worlds, faraway places and times, always genteel and charming, underlining the value of interpersonal relationships”. This was not very hard for someone like Paola Navone who understands the discreet charm of lightness that conveys a sense of timeless refinement. The world is her endless source of inspiration: Asia, Italy, Hong Kong, Paris, Miami, Amsterdam, the Far East, the Mediterranean. “Miami is on the Atlantic Ocean” she says. “Thus the idea of the bar, for example, entirely customized, where the counter in mint green graniglia seems like an ideal continuation of the floor, all the way to the zinc top, like that of a traditional bistro. We decided to decorate the wood-and-mirror backdrop with a collection of antique white handmade ceramics from Malicorne-sur-Sarthe, a Loire village where small workshops have been making tiles inspired by nature and the sea since the 1700s. The wall in the private dining room is enlivened by a collection of mirrors with rattan frames, found at flea markets in the south of France”. The same mood – connected with the key words modernity, appeal and relaxation – is found in the rooms, 74 in all, each with a size of about 30 sq meters. Here, with the aim of not invading the space and of expanding the perception of coolness, air and light, traditional materials have been reinvented with textures always deployed in pastel tones, particularly light green, also for the walls with a pebbled finish.  The graniglia of the new flooring is used in an off-scale version, with a chromatic range of black and white that enhances the combination of small Carrara marble tiles and Parisian stands from the 1930s in the bathrooms; and with covering fabrics in gray and white, in a ton-sur-ton arrangement, also for the drapes and chairs. The lighting is also very effective, evoking decorative motifs from the 1930s and 1940s: conveyed by flexible custom metal structures mixed with dramatic fixtures by Serge Mouille, it becomes a leitmotif that amplifies the perception of a relaxing vacation atmosphere, blending with the decorative impact of the spaces. In the end, as Italo Calvino reminds us, “you take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy-seven wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours” (Invisible Cities, 1972), so the Metropolitan by COMO leaves us with its design choices, which help us to grasp the beauty of a place and its sense of hospitality. The essence of the facility is summed up in the wellness center, carefully prepared as in all the Como facilities, protected from view on the eighth and last floor of the hotel, extending onto the roof with a swimming pool and terrace, and offering space for outdoor yoga, with a view of the Waterway and the city. A truly endless summer.