Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann and his costume-and-set-designer wife, Catherine Martin, are taking a break from films to take on a commercial real estate project for the first time.
The two will design interiors, uniforms, and cultural programming for the historic Saxony Hotel in the growing “Faena” District of Miami Beach.
Spearheaded by Argentinian developer Alan Faena, the massive Miami redevelopment and rejuvenation effort will transform the area into a luxury cultural hub; as he similarly did with a district of Buenos Aires.
Faena has tasked Luhrmann and his wife with transforming the five-star, 168-suite Saxony in keeping with its long history, and with an eye to Miami’s contemporary scene.
“We dealt with it just like we would deal with a film,” Luhrmann told Vanity Fair. “We went back to the very roots of the Saxony.” He and Martin started with in-depth research, and even interviewed the sons of George Sax. (Sax was a prominent banker and founder of the Saxony, which was completed in 1948 as one of the first luxury hotels on Miami Beach.)
The hotel, which is located along the widest stretch of sand in Miami Beach, will feature multiple restaurants, a 16,000-square-foot spa, a cabaret, and a cinema.
The pair lived in Miami when they were crafting Luhrmann’s American breakout film, Romeo + Juliet.
“We lived there during the time when Gianni Versace was alive. And we were living on Collins Avenue, right in the center of the area that is now Faena Miami,” Luhrmann explained.
Miami then was “both gritty and glamorous,” with a European charge brought on by Versace. “It was the first full-time residence we had in the United States. So we’ve always had this profound connection to Miami. It was our creative palette from which we drew Romeo + Juliet.”