Bryan Graybill credits the decor of his Miami Beach apartment to a potent cocktail with two ingredients: tequila and late-night “Dynasty” reruns.
The 46-year-old interior designer and real estate developer was watching the florid 1980s soap opera with a friend — drinks in hand — when inspiration struck. He channeled that era into a mauve, cream and teal color scheme punctuated by curvaceous custom furniture, zesty metallic touches and bold artwork.
“You take more risks down here,” Graybill says, gesturing out the serpentine windows of the Faena House condo he shares with his husband, lawyer Daniel Dokos, 60 (the couple also has a place in Manhattan). “It’s definitely more buttoned up in New York. Here, because it was a second home and because it was Miami, I didn’t hold back. You get to be whimsical.”
Faena House also has its own Floridian flourishes. The first condo tower in the Mid-Beach arts district masterminded by Argentinian property mogul Alan Faena, it was designed by Foster + Partners to emulate a ship, with sweeping balconies and serene ocean views from all of its 41 apartments.
Graybill and Dokos moved into their two-bedroom on the sixth floor in 2015, just as the building opened. They spent a full year outfitting the space, partnering with furniture and interiors guru Alex Harris, whom Graybill met while working for the London-based shop of late architect David Collins.
The result: a bright, flexible space perfect for parties. Faena House’s model apartment floor plan included a 12-seater dining table, but the couple dismissed that setup as too formal.
“Who’s going to entertain like that?” asked Graybill, a well-kempt South Carolina native whose twang becomes audible when he’s excited. “I had a vision: We would have cocktail parties all the time!”
Indeed, on the other side of a luscious daybed made from ivory and pink microsuede rests an arched banquette that wraps around a table. In a crook between the two sits a well-stocked bar. Serge Mouille’s three-armed chandelier hangs overhead; it’s adjustable, so furniture can be easily rearranged.
Guests float between that custom piece and an L-shaped sofa upholstered in textured ivory fabric from Dedar.
“I tried to design it as a cocktail sofa, at a depth where you can sit upright and talk but still be comfortable,” Graybill says. Thanks to Hermès’ jungly fabric print “Jardin d’Osier,” pops of pattern surround poufs shaped like four-leaf clovers, an homage to mentor Collins’ Irish heritage.
“He taught me to not always think of things in right angles or symmetry,” Graybill says of Collins. “He taught me about circles and curved shapes and serpentine shapes.”
Vintage oil lamps with colored glass by Hans-Agne Jakobsson, bought via e-tailers 1stdibs and Chairish, glow softly on a bronze-and-violet storage unit.
“I was inspired by Mondrian,” Graybill explains. “I wanted some voids and some fields.”
Outside on the veranda, visitors can recline on Richard Schultz chaises from Knoll and purple chairs by Italian designer Paola Lenti while taking in sunsets over downtown.
The couple’s art collection is also full of joie de vivre. In the entryway, a 3 ½-foot-tall rose-colored photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, eyes closed in repose, takes pride of place. It’s the work of Canadian-born, UK-based shutterbug Chris Levine, who gained rare audience with the monarch and repurposed the image for her diamond jubilee in 2012.
Pink, it so happens, is Graybill’s favorite color.
“Dan said, ‘We are not having a pink bedroom,’ so I got to use it in the guest bedroom,” he shrugs. An abstract work by Colombian artist Moises Esquenazi, reminiscent of undulating flora, sits above the headboard of the bespoke bed, which is flanked by twin, 1970s-style pink-and-marble coffee tables that Graybill designed with Harris. Sconces of cascading colored glass descend on either side, while a sliding door leads out to another stretch of expansive, interconnected terrace.
Next door, in the master bedroom, Graybill created a custom bed with built-in nightstands. “I’m not a lazy person, but I love to be in bed until noon,” he admits. “So I thought, ‘How do I build myself a cocoon?’ ”
Covered in platinum linen, the thronelike bed seems to shimmer in the South Florida sun. The glittering theme continues in the master bath, where a rounded black tub with platinum fixtures and a cushy shag rug evokes a sleek Art Deco vibe.
Jokes Graybill: “The bedroom became ‘Barbarella’-meets-‘Buck Rogers’ intergalactic, love-making warship.”
The bedroom became ‘Barbarella’-meets-‘Buck Rogers’ intergalactic, love-making warship.
As for necessities, the couple didn’t need the 24-foot-deep closet off the master bedroom, so they converted part of it into a decadent dressing room, with room for each to primp before nights out at the Faena hotel next door or days shopping in the Design District. “This is where I really punched it up,” says Graybill, who picked a lush Fornasetti wallpaper covered in eucalyptus leaves.
Although they’re based on the Upper West Side, Graybill spends about half the year at the Miami flat, while Dokos joins for weekends when work allows — especially when the weather gets cold.
Faena House makes for a blissful wintertime retreat in a magic city where bright colors somehow don’t jar and statement-making furniture fits right in.
“You’re allowed to fail down here, whereas in New York you have to be on point all the time,” Graybill says. “I learned to design by and be inspired by escapism.”