Located off the tip of Miami Beach and accessible only by private yacht or ferry lies the exclusive paradise of Fisher Island. An oasis of tropical landscaping and Mediterranean-style architecture, this island houses a community of about 700 families, although only a handful are there at any given time, with most spending vacations or a few months there annually. This elite community is situated on 216 acres and represents one of the most expensive zip codes in the United States as well as one of the greatest concentrations of wealth on the planet.
Found within one of the island’s signature Mediterranean Revival residences is a 6,000-square-foot unit that was meticulously gutted and reconfigured into an open-plan, modern condominium by creative director Sofia Joelsson. Built by Victor Caravallo from GLC Construction from Joelsson’s vision, the flow-through unit overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and Downtown Miami, and is surrounded by a deep wraparound balcony with spaces for entertaining and other outdoor activities. “The inspiration for the project was a modern vibe with a focus on art and most importantly, flow,” says Joelsson.
The owners, originally from the Midwest, met Joelsson back in 2003 when they hired her to do their first penthouse on Ocean Drive. Since then, they have entrusted her to do several of their homes and projects. “The space tells me what it wants to be; all I have to do is listen. My goal is to capture the essence of my client’s dream home and deliver a complete environment that intersects luxury with comfort, indulgence with wellness, and technology with simplicity,” says Joelsson. For the Fisher Island project, it was extremely important to adhere to that doctrine—functionality and design were carefully intertwined as the home had to be wheelchair accessible.
As you first enter, your eyes are immediately drawn to the panoramic views of the sea and Downtown Miami. The entrance features two leather-strapped mirrors from Monc XIII above a metal Brimstone console table by Holly Hunt. A box and a horn sculpture, both from Curated Living, are displayed on the console as well. The sharp contrast between the porcelain concrete-style floors and white walls was imperative to properly showcase the couple’s museum-quality collection of abstract impressionism, which is spread throughout the home.
“One of the most challenging aspects was creating a new floor plan out of existing small rooms—focusing on viewpoints like the cooktop in the kitchen that directly faces the Miami skyline, and while lying in the master bedroom the view line needed to be straight east to have perfect sunrise views,” says Joelsson.
Perhaps one of the most stunning features in the contemporary, open-style layout is the custom kitchen that Joelsson designed. “When designing a home on the water, I always consider the light and the views at different times of the day. Because the kitchen faces directly toward the sea, you can always take advantage of the stunning views— whether you are cooking, having a drink at the bar or sitting in the formal dining room,” she says. The kitchen’s wood cabinets are a natural walnut, the countertop is white quartz and the remarkable backsplash is book-matched Calacatta porcelain. The column is wrapped in a Moroccan vintage mirror, and appliances disappear against the wall of wood paneling. The Eva chairs by Zanotta keep with the minimal and tranquil vibe.
Given the couple’s love for entertaining, there are various seating areas throughout the home. The in-home movie theater provides deep, plush seats with unique, textured crocodile leather-embossed flooring to elevate the space. The dining table itself is a work of art, created by renowned bronze and wood artist Ingrid Donat. Each piece is uniquely sculpted, carved first by hand in wax and then cast in bronze, then patinated and finished with an exquisite patina. As you approach the outdoors you come across the lounge, where the remarkable wine cellar by Arclinea also doubles as a beautiful work of art.
For the expansive outdoor space, Joelsson was careful to combine indoor and outdoor living into one vast living space that captures the ocean breezes by using fully retractable pocket doors. The furniture throughout is Minotti’s outdoor collection, with a mix of sofas and lounge chairs so the homeowners and their guests can enjoy stunning Miami sunsets.
Joelsson’s vision and attention to detail drive her to constantly innovate and disrupt the status quo. She is well known for matching her meticulous design approach to the lifestyle of her clients, creating living spaces that not only look magnificent, but become extensions of the people that live in them.
Carolina Ramirez Herrera is an art- and design-obsessed travel and lifestyle writer, who often contributes to blogs, city guides and lifestyle publications, sharing a page from her little Black Book of personal travels. Based in Miami but usually on a plane, follow her on @Lacarolinda.