SPACE INVADER: MIANSAI BY MICHAEL SAIGER
BY LISA MISCHIANTI. PHOTOGRAPHED BY LACIE HUGARY
Not too long ago, 1800 North Miami Avenue had hogs hanging from its ceilings. In the former smokehouse situated next to the Florida East Coast Railway, meat was cured in the open upstairs space and stored in a massive refrigeration unit downstairs until it was shipped off to customers by train. But neither the railroad nor the smokehouse survived when Miami began to change economically in the ’70s. The place was gutted and left empty—until jewelry designer Michael Saiger discovered it by chance back in 2009. The gate was open, so Saiger wandered in, and he has been there ever since. “We just happened to drive by it,” he says. “It was meant to be.”
Now the spot is home to his brand of handmade accessories, Miansai, originally a men’s label sold everywhere from Bergdorf Goodman to J.Crew to Colette. (They introduced their first women’s collection this season.) The building hosts all of the company’s operations, from running the business to the actual casting and shaping of metals. The space still has many of its original features, like concrete floors, high ceilings, and a raw, industrial feel, but the interior has been personalized by Saiger’s own additions, including a spiral staircase, stainless steel furniture, a roof deck, and hand-selected vintage novelties. And for a man who creates jewelry as simultaneously modern and timeless as a sleek screw cuff or a leather hook bracelet, it seems only fitting. “I don’t do anything trendy. I like to keep it a little edgy, but classic,” explains Saiger, who grew up in Westchester, New York, and attended the University of Miami. “You can walk into this space in 20 years and you’re still going to think it’s cool. Likewise, with my jewelry, someone would still like it if they were to find it 20 years from now in their father’s drawer.”
According to Saiger, the area of Midtown Miami that surrounds his studio has grown alongside his business. “When we first moved in here, we would see crazy things,” he says. Today, however, the neighborhood is a burgeoning cultural center, full of galleries, studios, and coffee shops. “It’s an environment I can be creative in,” Saiger says. “And it’s where I want to work every single day.”
Sabor a Peru
2923 Biscayne Blvd.
This is a hole-in-the-wall Peruvian place with the best ceviche ever. People who don’t know Miami would walk right by it, but it’s one of my favorite
restaurants. It’s always packed with people speaking Spanish.
Douglas Gardens Thrift Shop
5713 N.W. 27th Ave.
You can find everything from really cool furniture to T-shirts and sick suits. And it’s dirt cheap. I hit it up at least every couple months.
1035 N. Miami Ave.
Right down the street from my studio, this bar is where I like to go and get a beer after work. It has a very chill vibe.
The Flea Markets on the Miami River
Back by the boat- yards there are a bunch of vendors. It looks like trash yards, but it’s not—it’s just really raw, American Picker-style. If you didn’t know where you were going, you’d be like, “Why the hell am I here?”
6934 Collins Ave.
By far the best seafood in Miami. FiFi’s will put any of those restaurants in South Beach to shame. I get one grilled and one steamed fish.