The DCOTA DesignHouse
Copyright Vladimir Kagan February 28, 2011
Somewhere between Palm Beach and Miami, lies Ft. Lauderdale…. Best known for its colossal cruise ships coasting in and out of its harbor every weekend… But located at the outskirts of town, off I-95 is a little suburb called Dania. It is the home of the DCOTA (Design Center Of The Americas).
This Mecca of designer showrooms sponsors an annual Show House…. (We all know that show houses are a dime-a-dozen) they are clever ways to raise funds for charities - sell real estate - flatter vanities - and con vendors into lending furniture and accessories that they never had intended to…. So, why write about this? Because this one is one of the more funky events on the Show House circuit.
Our initial mission was seeing the newly renovated Building A at the DCOTA (in this trilogy of showroom buildings…. The “DesignHouse” was a bonus). The inter-connected buildings had been fine examples of modern showroom architecture (albeit a bit dated…So why fix it if it aint broke …. .Right?.... Wrong!) Hats off to Charles S. Cohen, President and CEO of the Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. for making the commitment, in this rotten business climate, to reinvent the public space into a modern playground… This renovation was not an act of altruism…(Mr. Cohen does not run a not-for-profit enterprise)…It’s good business and hopefully it will sell the vacant real estate that haunts every landlord. That is what sets Mr. Cohen apart from the rest of the herd…. He had the vision and puts his money where his mouth is. (The Cohen Brothers are no stranger to the Showroom business. They own the D&D in New York, the Houston Decorative Center as well as the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles…. Not an enviable portfolio in this down market, where home furnishing is the only industry more depressed than Real Estate.)
Charles Cohen, owner of the DCOTA with Ashlee Harrison, the Marketing Director of the Center - presenting design awards at the opening of the DesignHouse exhibit
Walter Thomas of Area Architects And Design of Los Angeles created the renovation. He transformed a cavernous courtyard into an interactive three-dimensional piece of eye candy. People can mill about, meet friends and clients, sip a cup of coffee or just people-watch as they move up and down the elegant circular staircase.
Show Houses bring traffic and that is what Design Centers always need.…For good P.R. it’s imperative to have a good theme for a Show House! This year's premise was "Film and Design: The Golden Age of Hollywood" The show is billed as STARS OF DESIGN 2011…. Each designer was given free range in picking a movie for his or her subject matter…. Turn a bunch of designers loose with that admonition and you can appreciate my observation of Funky!
Each designer chose a film from the period to inspire their rooms. The result is a playful paraphrase of the films. Naturally, each designer used resources from the DCOTA showrooms, (…where better to go shopping?) and interspersed their rooms with works from their private collections.
There were young bloods like James Wall and Myron Wolman to the more established forces like Leta Austin Foster and Fanny Haim. And there were the “IN” designers like Deborah Wecselman and Matt Macdonald.
No Show House is complete without a Vladimir Kagan.... Deborah Wecselman from Miami chose my Serpentine Sofa for her Thomas Crown Affair...(as I have never seen the movie, I can't chime in on the interpretation, but Deorah has GOOD taste in sofas!
...now I have the good taste to be photographed with a top designer Deborah and me!
...and here is Sofia and friends dressed for the movie
I am not certain if Alex Matamoros of Dania, had a script for his Funky reception area... (Dig those cool chairs...now why can't I design stuff like that!)
The Show House is lodged on the 4th floor of Building A … a vacant 10,000 Sq feet piece of real estate awaiting a tenant. In the interim it makes great exhibit space, which was subdivided into weird oddment of angular cubicles that the designers juggled into rational rooms…. Necessity is the mother of invention and within these bizarre spaces; each designer tackled the task with originality. The rostrum of designers ranged from emerging to established firms representing the best in south Florida. They are based from Miami to Palm Beach, as well as Naples and the Bahamas.
This gal was dressed for the Oscars... only better!
The opening night’s audience took the theme to heart and could not resist dressing their part.…. No holds barred. This could have been a dress rehearsal of one of my favorite comedies, The Bird Cage, (a hilarious romp in Miami Beach, which starred Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman). The evening’s revelers were straight out of central casting. The background music for the evening should have been the rousing “We are Family”.
The DesignHouse is a cool way for people to see what’s new in design, be inspired, find a decorator, or walk away with some funky ideas.
The DCOTA is located at 1855 Griffin Rd., Dania Beach, FL, 33004. (954) 920-7997 The Show House will be open through July 15, Monday through Friday 10 AM -5 PM. (Select Saturdays and extended hours will be scheduled.) Admission is $15 with 100% of the proceeds benefitting three south Florida cultural institutions. The Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach, the Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale, and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.