Lachmee Chin, who has designed interior spaces within Four Season Hotel Miami and Four Seasons Private Residences Miami, talks about the inspiration behind her work and shares her recommendations for exploring design in the city through Art Basel and the Design District.
2016 / ISSUE 3 / FOUR SEASONS MAGAZINE
Since 2005 Lachmee Chin’s esprit ouvert has guided her as director of interior design at O’Donnell, Dannwolf & Partners Architects Inc. (ODP). The firm is the architect of record for One Thousand Museum, designed by the late Iraqi-born architect and Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid, and has independently designed several of the Four Seasons Private Residences Miami.
At Four Seasons Hotel Miami and the Private Residences, Chin has worked on the designs for the main lobby, for EDGE, Steak & Bar, and for three of the penthouse floors-one of which has a 4,000-bottle wine room in its centre and an award-winning masculine bathroom (see Four Seasons Projects, right). In total, ODP has designed more than 20 spaces in the building. The firm also partners with the Hotel on a design-focused Extraordinary Experience that gives guests the opportunity to see exclusive showrooms, private collections and stunning individual residences that are not open to the public.
Born in Guyana to Hindu parents, Chin grew up in South Florida and feels that her heritage and surroundings opened her mind to "different spices. smells, sounds, colours and religions: which eventually turned into a love for various fabrics, textures and materials.” Her penchant for creative pursuits led her to study painting, ceramics, photography and charcoal nude figure drawing at New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami. This concentration in fine arts, her culturally diverse upbringing and a taste for the finer things in life-including wine, Aston Martin cars and beautiful shoes-have informed Chin's aesthetic. Here, she offers her insights into working with clients, navigating Art Basel and Miami’s Design District, and other design highlights.
FOUR SEASONS PROJECTS
A standout project completed at Four Seasons Private Residences Miami was what Chin christened the "James Bond powder room." "Because powder rooms aren't typically designed for a man, we opted for a very masculine concept– a classic black tuxedo with a peek-a-boo of white," she says. Setting a droplet-shaped sink "that felt delicate, much like a tuxedo shirt" on a swirled marble floor, Chin and her team chose chrome fixtures to stand out against a backdrop of black marble walls inlaid with circles of silver leaf. The project won a 2016 Kitchen & Bath Design Award from Kitchen & Bath Design News. "The best design is a process," Chin says. When working with clients, her first step is to listen-intently. "My vision is very much fed by the information clients provide: pictures, stories, sketches and, of course, our client's requirements for the space," Chin explains. It's crucial, she says, to understand their motivations.
DESIGN DISTRICT PICKS
Chin is a frequent visitor to the Design District. "I love the majestic 1921 Moore Building (above), which I consider the heart of the district," she says. Among the neighbourhood's oldest buildings, it's one that Chin admired as a child growing up in Miami. Today it houses a permanent installation by Hadid, which gives Chin "a nice feeling, because I've seen this architect, I met her." Two of Chin's favourite restaurants for entertaining are Michael's Genuine Food & Drink and Harry's Pizzeria; both have excellent service, she says, and Michael's "has a great selection of craft beers and wine, a nice way to take an hour's time to get to know a client." Another preferred spot: the Cartier boutique, as much for its "calm, spa-like" space as for its products. And this, she says, "is what every designer strives for: designing spaces that will make you feel good today, tomorrow and in 10 years." In other words, timeless.
HOW TO DO ART BASEL
December 1-4, Miami Beach will be abuzz with artists, designers, filmmakers and devotees of contemporary art and design. With some 250 galleries from 31 countries filling the convention centre with painting, sculpture, photography and installations, as well as satellite exhibitions, not to mention films, performances and endless rounds of cocktail parties, the experience can be overwhelming. Where to start? Chin watches lnstagram for events that look interesting and goes from there; she suggests not over-planning the experience. "The spontaneity is good," Chin says. She also recommends the smaller, more intimate satellite shows; Design Miami is one of her choices. Four Seasons Hotel Miami will host a pop-up art show during this year's festival, showcasing the paintings of Antonio Dominguez de Haro, a native of Spain, and the pop art of Miami favourite Romero Britto, originally from Brazil.
DON'T-MISS DESIGN SHOP
Preparing for an interior project of your own? Stop by one of Chin's favourite vendors: tile and stone showroom Ceramic Matrix in the Design District, which primarily works with design professionals but opens its doors to the public. an indication of the flexibility that Chin so appreciates. "Ceramic Matrix has been incredibly cooperative, as they understand the creative process," she says. Typically, for a specific project, she'll shop for stone slabs and handpick each piece before submitting drawings detailing her desired materials. When Chin reaches the point of providing CAD design files, Ceramic Matrix "executes them without fail." The company also "offers the technical cuttings that are required for intricate designs," she says. “They are always open to ideas. even if it is something out of their comfort zone.” Their openness helps Chin "keep thinking outside the box."