Form & Function

When it comes to design, few have the vision that the DESIGN MINDS we’ve gathered showcase. Their natural knack to take spaces to the next level is at once impressive and awe-inspiring. Join them on their journey of expressing how a project goes from dream to reality.
Words // Jorge Arauz | Photos // c/o Respective Designers | October 27, 2023 | People

Vanina Castelletti

Originally from Argentina, Vanina Castelletti arrived in Key Biscayne and launched VC Interiors. For as long as she can remember, she has been renovating and decorating the homes of her family, neighbors and friends. Design has always been second nature to her. “I have the capacity to combine various elements and see the potential of each project,” she says. “When I imagine the potential of a space, the creative process magicallly takes over and I begin to bring to life everything I see in my mind’s eye.” — Photo by Rosario Recondo

Michael Wolk

As one of America’s leading designers of corporate, hospitality and residential interiors and furnishings, Michael Wolk launched his namesake design firm more than 49 years ago. His signature “Neo-Modern” style consistently results in designs that come together seamlessly, integrating the exuberance of dynamic American Modernism with the grace and refined elegance of European Tradition. “Making design that matters means paying attention to every detail to make the work great,” he says. “My favorite part of the design process is the moment of creativity when all the synapses are firing!”; — Photo by LuxHunters 

Mariela Litman

Born and raised in Bulgaria, Mariela Litman took the solid foundation that was offered by her esquire father and doctor mother and translated it into a successful career in the design field. As Designer & Managing Partner of Lafayette, her aesthetic is a harmonious blend of modern minimalism and organic warmth. “I believe in the power of simplicity, where every element serves a purpose and nothing is superfluous,” she says. “Clean lines, balanced compositions and a focus on functionality are the pillars of my design approach.”;  — Photo c/o Lafayette

Melanie Weber

Growing up admiring her mother’s work as an interior designer in Ecuador, Melanie Weber studied interior design in Miami before joining a boutique firm to hone her skills in mastering luxury residential and commercial design. Today, at 10.Studio, fulfilling the expectations of her clients is her top priority. “My favorite phase in the interior design process is when a client places their trust in my vision and artistic instincts,” she says. “Seeing a rendering come to life is the moment of assurance that the outcome will be truly remarkable.”; — Photo by Yara Virreira

Monica Santayana

From conceptualization to execution and final touches, Monica Santayana of Moniomi Design has a passion for design that transcends space and time. Her award-winning interior design firm, renowned for its eclectic, bold and elevated approach, works the gamut from luxury residential and commercial projects to bespoke furniture and collectibles. “Make every space beautiful,” she says. “No matter how insignificant it may feel, a beautiful space will always make you happy.”; — Photo by Jeanne Canto

Sofia Joelsson

A Swedish native, Sofia Joelsson’s successful style and inspiring aesthetic has transcended into designing magnificent homes for her private clientele. In addition to complete residential build-outs at Sofia Joelsson Design, she customizes furniture and sells a curated selection of beautiful pieces for the home. “With a diverse skillset and refined approach, I’m exceptionally well-equipped to manage luxury design projects of virtually all scopes,” she says. “Whether you’re searching for an interior design architect for a new construction project, a designer to renovate an existing space, or a visionary who can completely transform an entire property, I pride myself on bringing an infinitely inspiring aesthetic to every project.”; — Photo c/o Sofia Joelsson Design

Margaret van Puffelen

When she first set eyes on the Italian Renaissance estate on Pine Tree Drive in Miami Beach that would become her first design project, Margaret Van Puffelen of Colors of Design knew her future in the field was bright. Born in Chile, she studied decorative arts and earned a degree in interior design & architecture, completing certifications for ADA Interior Design, Universal Design Techniques and Feng Shui. “I’m inspired by form and space planning and how architecture and design impact the lives of people,” she says. “My aesthetics are modern and contemporary with pops of colors, ethnic touches, luxury finishes, fine textures and all that is inspired.”; — Photo by Carlos Toledo

Marcela Lombana

A career in design happened organically for Marcela Lombana of Marcela Lombana Design Studio. “As a child, I was always crafting wood vases, trays and side tables,” she says. “I would rearrange my bedroom furniture several times a year just because it felt good.” If she’s learned anything from her experience, it’s not to follow trends or predict them. “Design should be timeless,” she says. “It should always aim to be thoughtful to each project’s specific needs, expectations and goals.”;  — Photo by Antonio Cuellar

James Duncan

Born in New York, raised and educated around the world, James Duncan’s eclectic background influences his work today. Miami, Manhattan, Vancouver, Paris, Italy, Sotogrande, Jamaica and Sri Lanka have all influenced his work. After studying journalism and art, he started out as an investment banker before launching his interior design firm Through it all, his strongest inspiration has come from his academic parents. “Passionate renovators and collectors, they showed me the world through the lens of scholars and bon vivants,” he says. “With a passion for art, literature and industrial design, a career that married creativity, arts and business seemed an inevitability.”;— Photo by Stephan Goettlicher

Annie Goldman

One of the aspects that Annie Goldman of Annie Goldman Interiors loves most about the design process is guiding and leading her clients in the right direction when it comes to creating the perfect spaces for them. “My Golden Rule is that the interior design must be cohesive with the architecture of the home…you cannot have an exterior that is a villa style and have a super contemporary interior because the vibe will always be off,” she says. “It’s like the building knows it’s being an imposter!”; — Photo by Jenny Abrams

Vera Pronina

As the Founder & Creative Director of VP Atelier Interiors, Vera Pronina leads an award-winning boutique full-service interior design firm catering to a sophisticated global clientele. Since launching in 2018, she has created exceptional and inspiring spaces for a variety of projects throughout the U.S. and around the world. “Whether it’s minor rehabs or full-scale construction, my creative flair and expertise transforms spaces into stunning and functional works of art,” she says. “My ultimate guiding principle is to blend beauty with purpose, ensuring that every space I design tells a story while serving a practical role in people’s daily lives.”; — Photo c/o OG Miapro Production

Rafaela Simoes

Through her design firm, 2ID Interiors, Rafaela Simoes has worked with hundreds of highly satisfied clients from all over the world. Creating elegant and refined interiors for hotels in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S., her accomplishments include acclaimed design awards and internationally published works. “My contemporary interior design aesthetic blends the latest design trends with timeless elements to create spaces that are both fresh and enduring,” she says. “I like to emphasize clean lines, functional layouts, and a neutral color palette to cultivate an open and uncluttered atmosphere infused with character.”; — Photo by Toddy Holland