If Miami’s Faena Hotel has a mascot, it may be the gold-plated woolly mammoth statue parked on its steps. But the hotel’s eponym, developer Alan Faena, is just as much a visual representation of the opulence and grandeur inside. With his signature white suit and hat (which is depicted in his company’s logo) and radiant, bohemian energy, the Argentine hotelier is a testament to what life in Miami can be.
Despite the over-the-top glamour he exudes, Faena’s inspiration for Faena District — the real-estate concept he originated in Buenos Aires before importing it to Miami, was egalitarian in spirit. “We wanted a more democratic way of doing art and a way to open it to the public. It was a pioneering concept,” Faena says. When Faena’s partner Len Blavatnik proposed they expand stateside, they held onto those principles. “I think the concept in Miami is very similar because it’s based on culture and art. At the end of the day, it’s elevating people’s lives.”
Faena’s stake in culture runs deeper than his career in real estate. In the ’80s, he founded the fashion label Via Vai, which, he says, promoted a freedom of expression that was new to Argentinians at the time. “It is an honor to have had one of the most important fashion companies in Argentina from the moment that democracy was founded,” he says, referring to the fall of dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. “One of the ways people express themselves is through fashion; it was a big statement and a movement at the time. Today, that is my way of doing things.”
Indeed, Faena’s own distinctive style is seen throughout Miami’s Faena District, a collection of five structures including Faena Hotel, the Faena House and Faena Versailles Contemporary residences, and Faena Forum, a mixed-use venue for cultural happenings like a recent collaboration with the Museum of Ice Cream. In June, Faena will enter the retail market with Faena Bazaar, yet another platform for spreading arts and culture to the people. “We have been developing all kinds of Feana products … and working with the best minds of the world to create what would be like a utopia,” he says, before adding, “And today it’s no longer a utopia. It’s a reality.”