After an extensive and prolonged overhaul of a former ’60s warehouse, the new Miami gallery of Ralph Pucci International is ready for its official unveiling on Wednesday, just in time for the start of Art Basel Miami the next day.
“We redid the building and made it cool and funky, clean and somewhat minimal but it’s also elegant and chic,” Ralph Pucci, chief executive officer, told WWD. The 10,000-square-foot site has a slick, glossy white epoxy floor “so the furniture really jumps out,” though while the space was renovated, Pucci said it retains some of its original, gritty industrial character with its old exposed brick walls and 16-foot-high ceilings. “We left much of the space rough. We could have brought in new brick to make it new and pristine but we didn’t.”
Located at 550 NW 28th Street in the Wynwood arts district of Miami, the new gallery replaces the former Pucci gallery which operated for 10 years, also in Wynwood. The neighborhood, which is north of downtown Miami, has been in transition for a few decades, evolving into a hub for entertainment and arts from its industrial roots.
“There’s a lot of excitement and opportunity in the area,” said Pucci, who invested in a major way in the area by having purchased the warehouse. He likes that Wynwood isn’t as polished as some other parts of the city such the Miami Design District. “There’s a funkiness. Music studios and great restaurants are opening.”
While natural sunlight pours into the Pucci gallery, outside, a huge, 100-foot-wide mural by Paris-based interior designer and artist Elizabeth Garouste adorns the facade. It’s called “Strange Vegetation.”
“Every year we will have a different artist do a mural,” said Pucci, who has Ruben Toledo on his list of potential contributors.
Also for the opening, artist-designer Hervé Van der Straeten and architect, artist and designer Patrick Naggar will both present new pieces. “We will be showcasing all of our best designers and some brand new work,” Pucci said. He said Ralph Pucci International, which is known for showcasing globally renowned artists and designers specializing in luxury furniture, lighting, sculpture and photography, has been producing more and more product — for designers as well as in-house under the Pucci label — and no longer simply operates as a gallery for display.
Others being displayed at the new gallery are Iranian-French architect India Mahdavi, bringing a collection of works into a dedicated space, including a six-meter long Oedipe sofa, a new coffee table and a Tartagnan screen.
Hervé van der Straeten’s “Fun Ride” collection of unique pieces and limited-edition furniture, mirrors and lighting fixtures, makes its U.S. debut at Pucci.
In addition, more than 70 ceramic side tables and lamps by John Wigmore will illuminate the main space; photographer Christopher Makos will show six large format pieces, three contact sheets, and three portraits of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, and photographer Marjorie Salvaterra will show her “Almost Spring” collection of works in white on white embellished with crystal detailing.
As well as creating the exterior mural, Garouste will show her “Beans” collection of seven lighting and furniture pieces in free-flowing forms and arresting colors which were executed at Pucci’s New York sculpture studio utilizing its proprietary Plasterglass material.
“We happen to be opening Wynwood with a lot of color, but we are pretty much visually set up the same way there as in our other galleries,” Pucci said.
Pucci’s expanding business, aside from the Miami gallery which actually took two years to complete, includes his 30,000-square-foot gallery on 18th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and the 15,000-square-foot gallery in Los Angeles at 1025 North McCadden Place. In addition to owning the Wynwood property, Pucci owns his L.A. space. The New York space is rented.
On Friday, a 2,000-square-foot Pucci pop-up gallery on Albemarle Street in London closes. It’s been Pucci’s first European outpost and likely not the last. Pucci and his son Michael, who serves as president of Ralph Pucci International, will soon be traveling to London to explore the possibility of reopening in London with a permanent site. “We’ll go back to London in January to look for a location, something off the beaten path with charm and character, similar in spirit to Wynwood.”
The Pucci business has roots in the mannequin business but pivoted away from mannequin making to luxury furniture and lighting in the wake of the pandemic. The firm maintains its sculpture studio and manufacturing capabilities at its Manhattan site.
“Miami is an exciting, vibrant city where many cultures and creatives come together,” said Pucci in a statement. “The local community and visitors appreciate quality design and we have enjoyed a decade of success there already in our previous gallery. We look forward to having more space to show the diverse works of our collaborate artists and designers.”
The family business began with Nick and Lee Pucci in 1954 repairing mannequins in their Mount Vernon, N.Y., basement. In 1976, the business shifted to fabricating unique mannequins, a move encouraged by their son Ralph. The furniture chapter began in 1989 because of a mannequin created by French interior designer Andrée Putman, who then urged Pucci to represent her furniture in the U.S.
Inside Ralph Pucci International in Miami.
Now in its third generation, with siblings Michael and Nicole Pucci steering Ralph Pucci International toward its seventh decade, the company continues to pioneer both in-house collections, as well as creations and longtime collaborations with renowned designers and artists.