Luminaire began in North Miami Beach as a small 500 square-foot lighting store. At that time, in March 1974, selling contemporary products directly to the consumer was unheard of in South Florida. Luminaire was therefore a pioneer in both retail and design education, changing the way the public encountered and engaged with modern and contemporary design.
Luminaire grew quickly in the first five years, and the need for an expanded space that would accommodate an every-increasing roster of manufacturers and allow for design-inspired program became unavoidable. In March 1979, Luminaire proudly opened a new location on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, one of the more highly trafficked areas in Miami, complete with numerous other high-end retail destinations. The new space would allow Luminaire to bring good design to an even larger audience while providing the space to launch an ongoing, unparalleled program of events, lunch and learns, lectures, galas, book signings and other design-driven happenings.
To mark this momentous move, Luminaire held a design competition and invited Pirkko Stenros, one of the first designers of modular storage furniture in the world, and Ristomatti Ratia, the son of Marimekko’s founder Armi Ratia and one of Finland’s most versatile designers, to engage guests with conversations on the trajectories in modern design at that time. With ear-to-ear grins, guests listened to the captivating ingenuity of both designers.
During the celebration, Pirkko Stenros introduced the Birch program of modular furniture to guests, extolling the qualities of the wood as breathing life into the structure. Stenros shared the importance of what he called ‘multifunctionality’: each design is created so that it will suit users of many ages and from many societies for many purposes. The longevity of the Birch designs would bring enduring delight to the user while saving resources in the production processes.
Ristomatti then shared the history of the Marimekko brand to the Coral Gables audience, explaining that high quality combined with a simple, functional aesthetic is the key to the company’s international success. Established in 1951, Marimekko manufactures and markets one-of-a-kind clothing, objects, textiles, bags and other accessories. One of the most popular products, the classic Olkalaukku bag made of durable, sturdy canvas, was designed by Ristomatti himself in 1971.
The opening of Luminaire’s Miracle Mile location offered guests a joyous celebration and an intellectually provocative experience, thus beginning a new chapter in the company’s commitment to changing people’s lives through good design.
Thursday, March 1, 1979