The Magic City. Vice City. Paradise Lost. The 305. Miami has a lot of nicknames and most locals love them. There is nothing short of cool in the four nicknames listed above -- vices, magic, numerology. These are all things that we enjoy.
But now there is a new name that's being pinned on the city in the sun, and it's one with a bit more of a natural vibe to it: The Coral City.
According to the aquaculturalists at Coral Morphologic, because Miami is built on dead coral, with buildings composed of fossilized coral facias and colonies of coral living around our shoreline, it only makes sense to rebrand the town as the Coral City. And how are they spreading the word about this initiative? By joining up with MIA Skate Shop, making coral printed decks, and throwing a top-shelf soiree at the every oceanographic Gramps in Wynwood.
According to Melody Santiago Cummings, operations manager for Coral Morphologic, the partnership with MIA, who approached the Wynwood-based aquaculturalists through mutual relations with the Borsht Film Festival folk, came together for a couple reasons.
"One of the things we really liked," began Cummings, "was the connection of skating on this structure which is essentially composed of fossilized remains of ancient coral, which makes up the city of Miami. Miami is basically built on a foundation of coral skeletons. Also, we like to support and maintain relationships with local South Florida brands, and MIA Skate is one of the only skate shops that's really producing independently and promoting other creatives in the community."
Cummings is well aware of the oddness -- nature and skateboarding? -- that surrounds this partnership, but she embraces it. The weird unexpectedness of the collaboration makes it unique and refreshing, and according to Cummings, this particular venture stands out amongst their other ongoing developments.
"We're really excited about this project," Cummings said. "It's one of the more urban collaborations we're doing. Some of the other projects we've been working on for this aquacultural transformation are large-scale, like for instance we have a huge video display inside the Southeast Financial building, we've had collaborations with the Knight Foundation, we've had video projections of our coral on the landscape of Miami buildings, but this is the first time we're actually making something tangible like these skateboards."
As far as the boards go, they're actually pretty dope. The high quality macro shots of super-colorful coral species make for an aesthetically distinctive and attractive set of decks that rep the Cnidarians of this city.
"The skateboards have a limited edition run of 50 boards of each design. All the graphics on the boards are of the morphologic corals that we raise here in the lab," Cummings noted.
So what is one to expect from a night hosted by coral scientists and Miami skaters at Gramps, one of the most hipster joints in all of Wynwood?
"The party's going to be cool," Cummings predicted. "We're going to show a skate video that MIA Skate made. it's really rad and it tells the story of both brands and it's just got really awesome skate footage around the video. We'll also be projecting images of the coral. In addition we're going to have a custom cocktail for the event and there's going to be a DJ battle."
One of the last things that Cummings described in our conversation was the laboratory that Coral Morphologic has been working out of. It's in the same building that the University of Wynwood calls home, but it sounds like an altogether out of this world place to visit.
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"In the lab," she told me, "they have this entire ecosystem and they're aquaculturalists, meaning they're growing coral; in some species they're even closing the life cycle and spawning the coral. They been taking fragments of these soft and stoney corals and growing them in the facility. It's kind of mind-blowing -- you walk into the lab and it's all fluorescent. They're allowing the coral to be illuminated and you can really see the beauty of the neon animals, which really conceptually pairs nicely with Miami which is such a neon city."
The MIA Skate x Coral Morphologic Collaboration Launch party kicks off at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, at Gramps (176 NW 24th St, Miami). Visit the event page on Facebook.