Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Mod in Miami

What would be the point of having a Mod wedding if you didn’t have a touch of Mod on your honeymoon, right? So my wife and I decided to spend a couple of days in what has to be one of the hippest place this side of the Atlantic: South Beach, Miami.

We had been to South Beach a couple of years ago for only a day while on a trip to visit my parents on the west coast of Florida in Fort Myers. We had vowed we would be back soon.

Here we are in the middle of the Art Deco hotel capital of the world. Technically not Mod, no one can deny the fact that Art Deco exudes “cool”. For some reason, 20s and 30s architecture seems to be the perfect match for mid-century modern decor. And just by peaking into a few hotel lobbies, I’m not the only one who had the same thought. The streamline, futuristic, jet age aesthetics go hand in hand with the Mod ethos.

The iconic Eero Saarinen Ball Chair spotted in a hotel lobby
Thanks to the help of the Miami Preservation League, over 800 significant buildings, contained in approximately one-square mile, have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Just by walking around, you can understand why.

I think it’s safe to say that Art Deco is one of the starting points of what we now consider Modern Design. The movement in the USA, especially here in Miami, has found its inspiration in many distinct early 20th century design currents such as Bauhaus, Cubism, de Stijl and Expressionism.

This hotel was recently featured in one of my favorite tv series, Dexter.

Unique to Miami, local architects have come up with their own interpretation of Art Deco called Tropical Deco. Heavily influenced by the steamships and oceanliners of the period, you can see it being represented by details like the round windows mimicking nautical portholes and the steel deck railings.

One of my favotite features of any Art Deco building has to be the finial spire. Most of those "tower-like" shapes have unfortunately been destroyed over time. Those that remain conjure up images of a Buck Rodgers rocket or the type of skyscraper King Kong would love to climb.

Our hotel, the Circa 39, might have been just of a few blocks outside the Art Deco epicenter but it still met all of our expectations for a very reasonable price. With its clean, slick rooms, funky lobby, friendly staff and poolside beds, what else could you ask for?

In front of our hotel. Thanks Mom and Dad for letting us borrow the BMW Z3!
Miami might not be "Mod central" but just like a futuristic 60s cyborg, my eyes locked in on any Mod related objects, vintage scooters being the first.

PX150 with less then 2 miles on the odometer
Nice Vespa but chances are its a Vietnamese death trap
Original Zundapp Bella
Beautiful example of a Heinkel Tourist
No matter if you're fan of Art Deco or not, South Beach is without a doubt a romantic place. I can attest to that!


  1. Great minds. We also spent some of our honeymoon here, back in October. Your photos do it justice.

  2. Beautiful photos and architecture! I'm not super familiar with that part of the country and didn't really know how heavily Deco parts of it were.

    I love that stuff, but need to study up more.

  3. Wow! Vraiment superbes tes photos Patrick!