Magic Touch


In this Miami home, Citizen Artist demonstrates the synergy that takes place when a community works together

Filtered through a distinctly contemporary lens, the sinuous curves and the delicate pastel hues of the plaster walls and the terrazzo floor nod to Miami’s art-deco past. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

Legacy clients engender familiarity and trust, offering an interior designer the opportunity to achieve something extraordinary and pushing the ideas of what a home can be beyond the merely functional and toward the truly inspirational. This was the circumstance in which Joshua Rose and Rafael Kalichstein of Citizen Artist found themselves when they embarked on the renovation of this house in Miami, their ninth collaboration with the client. “It was, by far, the most significant project we’ve done together,” Kalichstein shares. “And it really set the tone for what we do moving forward on many levels.”

In the living room, a quartet of pieces designed by Citizen Artist–a sofa executed by Jouffre, a Murano glass and white oak coffee table, a rug from their collection for Mehraban and panels that slide open to reveal a television—share space with Charles Tassin’s TEDD chair, Aureliano Toso’s Murano glass floor lamp and Caste Design’s martini table. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
A custom sofa in the front hallway, inspired by a design created by Charlotte Perriand leads to an arched hallway. Photos Photos by Douglas Friedman.

The timing of their work on the home coincided with a monumental shift for the firm. Formerly known as Form Design Studio, Rose and Kalichstein—who are also married—had recently experienced a personal crisis: the protracted illness and death of Kalichstein’s father, Joseph “Yossi” Kalichstein, a celebrated pianist and teacher who’d exerted a profound influence on the couple. Speaking at the memorial service, Deborah Rutter—the Kennedy Center’s president—characterized the elder Kalichstein as a “supreme citizen artist,” describing someone who employs their talents in service of something bigger than themselves on behalf of their community and their society. Rose and Kalichstein immediately connected with the phrase and the ethos behind it. It coalesced with their quest to explore greater meaning in their work, reaching beyond the decorative to prompt important conversations around the impact and responsibility of the built environment.

Saturne, a custom chandelier by Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert, hangs above a vintage 1970s brass and marble dining table in the kitchen. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
Apparatus Studio’s Talisman Loop Sconce illuminates the bar’s hand-silvered mirror, its quartzite shelving and its brass and stone cabinetry. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

Their first impression of the Miami home didn’t engender optimism. “The listing didn’t really sell the property,” Rose remembers. “Our first instinct was, ‘Are you sure?’” However, once they saw the home in person they understood its appeal. A bundle of bad renovations hid a perfectly sited, lit and laid out mid-century modern home. “Their neighbors were building these oversize homes,” says Kalichstein. “In a world where everything is as big as it can be, there’s something wonderful about the intimacy of a space that is human-scale.” Instead of tearing the home down, the clients wanted to celebrate what they loved about it. “That was our jumping-off point,” Rose shares.

In the office, side chairs by Frank Lloyd Wright, created for Riverview Terrace restaurant, join a custom desk and Giorgetti’s Teodora chair. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
An exuberant grasscloth mural showcases Miami’s iconic pink flamingos framing a custom blue sodalite sink.
Photos by Douglas Friedman.

They found themselves drawn to the exaggerated lip of the gutter that encircled the house. Its curves seemed to nod to the art deco influence that weaves throughout Miami. That dovetailed with Citizen Artist’s desire to infuse the home with what Kalichstein characterizes as “the spirit of the place,” setting it apart from the clients’ other homes. “It was important to us that the moment they arrived, they knew they were in Miami Beach,” Rose says. Adds Kalichstein, “So we were looking for the true sense of Miami: deco flair, a contemporary feel, some Cuban influences.”

In the peach bedroom, Studio Job’s Tit Lamps for Venini as part of their Mae West series hang above side tables from Aldo Bakker for Karakter Copenhagen. The chair is by Missana. The rug is by Irene Infantes for Christopher Farr. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
Liesel Plambeck’s bespoke wallcovering and the “Year of the Snake” rug she created for Mehraban animate the nursery. The raffia and lacquer changing table is a custom piece by Citizen Artist. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

Architect Scott Joyce helped to sculpt their vision. “We dove into our modern interpretation of what this home is and what it might have looked like if the person who built it had had access to contemporary technology and building opportunities,” says Rose. A lush jungle of tropical plants, courtesy of Lancescape Miami, sets the scene. “The moment you step inside, you’re grounded in this specific place and your body just relaxes,” he explains. “There’s this incredible foliage, the air feels more humid, there’s that wonderful sound a suitcase makes rolling over the wooden boardwalk.” Custom stucco aggregate, created from crushed shells, nods to the nearby beach. Mint green blows a whisper of Style Moderne across the exterior.

The primary bedroom’s custom 24-karat gold palm frond mural, designed by Citizen Artist and expertly executed by Londubh Studio, grounds a custom bed and nightstands designed by Citizen Artist. The brass palm leaf flush- mount fixture was designed by Citizen Artist and created by Neptune Glassworks. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
A console by Nico Yektai is flanked by brass sconces by Gilad Ben-Artzi. Wide Awake Waving in Storm Winds by Cole Sternberg is reflected in the custom Villari matte porcelain mirror. Photos by Douglas Friedman.
The single-lens sconces are by Neptune Glassworks. The plumbing fixtures were discovered at Drummonds. The walls, ceiling and shower bench were fabricated from book- matched onyx. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

The interior amplifies these influences. The coolness of the terrazzo floor parries the city’s legendary humidity. In the entryway, a high curved ceiling and pink plaster walls offer an enthusiastic welcome—a greeting that’s confirmed by the pair of custom sofas, inspired by a Charlotte Perriand design—then the ceiling drops down for a caress and the pink walls wind through the public rooms. “If the ceilings had been higher, the millwork would have felt overwhelming,” Rose points out. Now it amplifies the feeling of intimacy. “We decided early on that we were going to create a real language of millwork,” says Kalichstein. Curves skate freely through the home. They’re joined by amoeboid shapes and the elongated ovals known as langues de chat. Augmented by lush textures and the thoughtful layering of Jordan almond pastels with teddy-bear neutrals, they drape the home with a languor befitting its warm climate. Symmetry and balance trigger calm. Beneath this, a profound attention to detail and craft elevates luxurious materials into the realm of the truly exquisite.

The exterior patio’s hand- painted ceiling is the work of Londubh Studio. Patricia Urquiola’s Butterfly sofa for B&B Italia is joined by her Garden Layers beds for GAN. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

The achievement of this paean to perfection doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Citizen Artist invited the custom contributions of their coterie of artisans and craftspeople: There’s a chandelier from Paris-based artist Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert in the dining room (a single one bejewels a powder room) and a palm frond fixture from Neptune Glassworks in the primary bedroom, echoed in a 24-karat mural created by surface designers Londubh Studio. Their work also adorns the patio’s ceiling and the pool’s deck. Nico Yektai crafted a console for the hallway; van Cronenburg produced the imposing hardware for the front door, the interior doors and the primary bedroom’s dresser. “We design the ideas that become the platform for the many people that we work with,” Kalichstein says. This synergy begets a community. “The product is the thing but the process—the intangible, the magic—that’s what we’re interested in.” More than interior designers, Citizen Artist are creative directors, fostering the work—and problem-solving abilities—of their tribe in service of both beauty and the greater good. “When you see other people’s capabilities, it expands your thinking,” Kalichstein muses. “You discover you can dream of something and it can be done.” In this house, as in life, it takes a village.

Santa Barbara Designs’ Flamenco umbrella shades a bespoke, hand-painted pool deck by Londubh Studio and the Gilles Side Table by Citizen Artist for Global Views. Photos by Douglas Friedman.