With its annual hosting of Art Basel and a flourishing design district, it’s safe to say that Miami is a city that heartily embraces style. But for designer Jennifer Bunsa, that style has grown to be somewhat homogenous. “When people typically think of Miami design, it conjures up images of white lacquer and lucite or beige on beige on beige,” she says. Countering this, however, is her new design showroom, co-opened with former classmate Stephanie Denault: WorkRoom.
Focusing on handcrafted, well-made designs with an emphasis on female designers (including Materia Designs, Aja Blanc, Peg Woodworking, Alice Quaresma, and Marthe Armitage), WorkRoom is nestled in the city’s design district and serves as a resource for interior designers and is open to the public by appointment.
Opening a showroom in Florida made perfect sense for the design duo, who earned their undergraduate degrees together at the University of Florida. After working in interior design in New York City for 10 years (after earning her masters in architecture at Harvard), Bunsa returned to Florida and with Denault, who runs her own boutique design studio, sought to bring a new style to a space further south.
“Our hope is to introduce a different design language to Miami that reflects the vibrancy, color, and the warm character of the city,” Bunsa says. “Initially it made sense to fill the space with established makers and designers who create things with their hands and focus on pattern and color.”
Though many of the current designers are based overseas or in other parts of the country, Bunsa hopes to heighten WorkRoom’s emphasis on local talent, in addition to offering original designs (made with the help of Floridian artisans), starting with a custom table, constructed by Grove & Anchor.
“We value quality and love things that are made by hand, but more importantly, we want all our designers to imbue their works with meaning so that each piece tells a unique story,” Bunsa adds. “In addition to our roster of current designers, we also source vintage furniture for the space because it helps to add some context for the new pieces.”
The showroom itself is airy and distinctly contemporary, and though some pieces teeter between mid-century and bohemian, they strike a chord that feels fresh and inspired. Pops of plant life complement colorful textures and add in a natural element alongside rich wood furniture, while macrame and woven designs bring a fresh take to Miami style.
With the hope to bring a new visual element to the city, the team also plans to make WorkRoom a hub for design lovers who are game to try something new. “We’re targeting people in Miami who can appreciate some of the unique pieces that will rotate through the space,” Bunsa says. “We want to start hosting small monthly dinners in the space where we discuss design and ways to engage people on a different level over some good food and wine.”
After all, as its name implies, WorkRoom is ultimately a venture to make an impact—and that means that, yes, some work is going to be required. And for that to happen, community can make all the difference. “We’d like to be an alternative to the ubiquitous white-on-white aesthetic and provide some warmer, modern options that still feel like they belong in Miami,” Bunsa says. “The hope is that those conversations will help us start to build a network of like-minded people dedicated to helping shift the direction a bit.”
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