By Rebecca Wallwork Posted February 25, 2011, 12:25 PM EST
Travel & Leisure returned to Miami for its seventh annual Design Awards on Wednesday night, with a cocktail party for 400 at the New World Center in Miami Beach. Wolfsonian founder Micky Wolfson was feted as the 2011 Design Champion, and Miami's 1111 Lincoln Road won the award for Best Mixed-Use Venue.
Two years ago, the magazine moved the Design Awards event from New York to Miami, but last year's party was held in San Francisco. Travel & Leisure director of special events Penni Bonaldi said her team was “desperate to get back to Miami to do this event again, because it was such a huge success here a couple of years ago. It's perfect timing doing it on the eve of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and with the recent opening of the New World Center.”
Bonaldi and her team did a hard-hat tour of the venue in September. “It was designed by Frank Gehry, one of the world's design leaders, so we thought: What better venue for our Design Awards?” she said.
The event was held in the center’s main lobby, where Shiraz Events served passed hors d'oeuvres that included smoked salmon lollipops topped with caviar. Catering also included a Latin-style sushi bar and, on the mezzanine, a cheese market station. Patrón Spirits created a muddle-your-own mojito bar in a corner of the lobby and provided signature cocktails inspired by Design Award winners.
Twelve of the 17 winners were in attendance—the most winners the magazine has hosted at an event, Bonaldi said. The awards were presented by Travel & Leisure editor in chief Nancy Novogrod, who noted that the New World Center was “a contender for our 2012 Design Awards, for sure.”
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau presented the event, and its “Express Yourself” slogan inspired one of the night's most popular features: the flipbook booth by the South Beach Photo Booth Company. Here, guests wrote messages on whiteboards, donned props from award winners, and shot short videos, which were turned into flipbooks on site for the guests to take home.
Other winning product integrations included the iPad, used for check-ins; Puma's Urban Mobility Backpack, worn by check-in staff; and a row of Snow Peak Hozuki Lanterns displayed along the top of the bar. Event producer Mark Underwood from SRX Events even convinced Best Luggage award winner Tumi to donate 10 suitcases that were transformed into the DJ booth.
Following the party, Travel & Leisure hosted a private dinner for the winners at Soho Beach House.