Miami has has long had a reputation as a brand-centric city, a place where flash and labels are not shunned but shown. Brand-name restaurants, hotels, and retail establishments from all over the world create flagship outposts here to capitalize on the interests of the local citizenry.
This trend has recently extended into the residential sphere with clothing designers such as Giorgio Armani, Fendi, and Missioni placing their names on apartment towers. Even Karl Lagerfeld has gotten in on the action, branding the lobby design of the new Estates at Acqualina on Sunny Isles.
Now, luxury automakers are joining the action, tagging the still hot Miami condominium market with their monikers.
A look inside Pininfarina’s 42-story, 382-unit 1100 Millicento tower in Miami.
Since its founding in 1930, Italian company Pininfarina has been a carrozzeria, or custom coach builder, for the automotive industry, most famous for designing dozens of Ferraris and Maseratis. But the firm long ago expanded its consultancy into consumer products such as furniture, vending machines, and even toilets, and it recently announced that it intends to create a line of advanced electric vehicles under its own brand name.
Its 42-story, 382-unit 1100 Millicento tower, in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami, was its first venture into residential development when it opened in 2016, and the first of the car-themed buildings in the city. “The car you have tells the world something about you. So does the place where you live,” says Paolo Trevisan, chief designer of Pininfarina of America, explaining why the branding is a natural fit. Moreover, he feels that the South Florida location lends itself particularly well to the use of such nameplates. “Miami is one of the biggest markets for exotic cars. So, that relation is helping to develop those kinds of things,” he says.
German sports car manufacturer Porsche was the next carmaker to capitalize on this correlation, opening a 132-unit tower on Sunny Isles Beach via its Porsche Design subsidiary, in 2017. Drawing on its brand heritage, the rounded, 641-foot Porsche Design Tower connected residents quite literally with their vehicles by creating a unique “Sky Garage” for each apartment. Owners ride up special elevators inside their cars, which are parked in a garage adjacent to their unit.
An exterior look at Aston Martin’s 391-unit condo tower (tallest in picture. It’s in an ideal location in the city, overlooking Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Now, exclusive British sport-luxury automaker Aston Martin has gotten in on the action, breaking ground late last year on a 66-story, 391-unit condo tower downtown, overlooking Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This is Aston’s initial venture into residential architecture, and the choice of Miami was key. “We surveyed cities around the world for our first residential development, and this particular opportunity presented the right partner, the right timing, and the right location,” says Simon Sproule, Aston’s chief marketing officer. “Miami holds global appeal, and the site has an enviable location.”
The reasons behind automakers choosing Miami for these developments is quite evident: a wealthy globalized population, year-round driving opportunities, the aforementioned local interest in overt branding. But, at heart, the building of these condominiums is really just a form of brand extension.
These brands can be marketed to developers in order to help their projects stand out. “The competition is hard because there is so much building going on,” says Trevisan. “So the importance to become special and to have their own storytelling, it’s become a need for the developers. They have no space to do just another tower. They need to bring something special.”
But the marketing is also relevant for the upscale automakers, who need to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace by being wherever their clients, and potential clients, are. “This partnership, along with several others outside of our traditional automotive space,” says Sproule, “allows to grow our brand into new aspects of the luxury world – ones that appeal to both our existing and future customers.”