Warby Parker Opens Sightly New Store in the Design District

Mike Willcox's Moonrise View
Mike Willcox's Moonrise View Photo courtesy of Warby Parker
click to enlarge Mike Willcox's Moonrise View - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARBY PARKER
Mike Willcox's Moonrise View
Photo courtesy of Warby Parker
Beneath the soft round edges of the Museum Garage’s façade in the Miami Design District sits a quaint corner shop with a simplistic white storefront and matching interior walls. It’s a minimalist’s dream, and as of this month, the neat space is home to the eyewear retailer Warby Parker.

The new Design District location will be Warby Parker’s fourth store in Miami. The brand has previously set up shop in Wynwood, Coconut Grove, and Aventura.

Founded in 2010, the company gained popularity for its stylish frames and its charity work. Following its beginnings selling glasses online, Warby Parker now boasts more 100 stores nationwide as well as a philanthropic arm that provides children in need with necessary eyecare.

“Over the years, we’ve thought a lot about what a Warby Parker store could look like in the Design District,” says Warby Parker cofounder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal. “Opening our doors in this incredibly unique neighborhood presented the perfect opportunity to translate Miami’s rich arts culture and distinct palette in a uniquely Warby Parker way.

“What we came up with — from our custom art installation to our geometric furniture — creates a playful element of illusion that customers and passersby will be really intrigued by.”

Although every Warby Parker location sells the same merchandise, what sets each spot apart is its distinct artwork. The company teams with local artists to create unique visuals to accompany each of their brick-and-mortars.

When the time came to conceptualize the Design District store's presentation, the company wanted to keep things very Miami and sought to mimic an art gallery.

Blumenthal and business partner David Gilboa enlisted the creative talents of Key West resident Mike Willcox for the undertaking. The beach-loving artist draws his inspiration from the art deco design style.

“I am deeply moved by art deco and its influence in the Miami landscape,” Willcox says. “My love of art deco and the work I make is what drew Warby Parker to me, as they wanted to do something that was in tune with classic Miami.”

For Willcox, the decision to work with the well-known eyewear brand was easy. “Warby Parker’s values and mission align with my own," he says. "It was a great honor and opportunity to be a part of [one of their] Miami backdrops alongside so many other great artists.”

The artist’s 13-piece installation, Moonrise View, was created as a sort of optical illusion — a cheeky sentiment for an eyewear company. The view of a bright-blue sky runs across all of the panels — some have colorful fronds waving in the painted wind, and others have images of food. Independently, each piece is beautiful in its own right. However, from a certain viewpoint, all 13 panels appear to merge and form a larger, singular piece that depicts a beachgoer lounging blissfully by the shore.

Passersby can also view Willcox’s mural as they’re walking on the street. The shelves were purposely positioned at a 45-degree angle so customers can see the full art piece as they enter, and as they walk farther into the store, they’ll find the full assortment of eyeglasses, sunglasses, and books for sale.

Though most Miami stores debuting in December try to orchestrate the occasion to coincide with Miami Art Week and Art Basel, Warby Parker is doing things a little differently by celebrating its grand opening a week later. On Saturday, December 14, and Sunday, December 15, the new Design District location — which is now open to the public — will offer special treats. Customers who make a purchase during the grand-opening weekend will receive a custom tote bag, postcards designed by Willcox, and a pass for free admission to Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Warby Parker. 4052 NE First Ave., Miami;
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Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer for Miami New Times. She nurtured her love of words at Boston College before moving back home to Miami and has been covering arts and culture in the Magic City since 2013.