The Miami Years
The historic Helen Mar Apartment Hotel at 2421 Lake Pancoast Drive was designed by Robert E. Collins in 1936. Situated on Lake Pancoast in Miami Beach, the Art Deco building housed eighty-six apartments overlooking the lush, Helen-Mar Gardens and boasted “luxurious living” with “complete hotel service”. The following decades brought major changes to the area, and the once splendid building fell into neglect and disrepair. In 1987, following a resurgence of interest in local preservation, the building was purchased by Broadway producer and Miami native, Michael Harvey. Using a combination of his own funds and grants from the city, Harvey began a complete restoration of the building, stripping decades of paint and remedying bad repairs, rousing the Helen Mar back to her brilliant glory.
It is fitting that Mark McDonald—champion of all things vintage and beautiful—would choose the Helen Mar as his Miami home. Outfitted in an array of Mid-century and Art Deco designs, the stylish apartment featured thoughtfully preserved molding and finishes, meticulous tilework and cabinetry, all brought to life by a flood of South-Florida sunlight. Graphic works by Cuban and South American artists adorned the walls and inviting furniture designs by Modern masters like Charles and Ray Eames, Edward Wormley and Alvar Aalto furnished each room. True to his curating roots, McDonald effortlessly incorporated early Art Deco works by the likes of Jules Buoy, Walter Dorwin Teague and Warren McArthur into the brilliant interior, crafting a glamourous and exciting space, reflective of the Magic City itself.
The Founder of Mid-Century Design
Mark McDonald has always been at the epicenter of the world that is mid-century design, to a large extent, it is a world he created. For over forty years, Mark has pioneered whole fields of collecting, providing the scholarship and creating the market for mid-century furniture, studio jewelry, ceramics and Italian glass.
In 1983, Mark opened Fifty/50 with partners Mark Isaacson and Ralph Cutler. This groundbreaking gallery defined collectors’ taste. At the time, modern works were still largely overlooked; Mark and his partners collected and presented the rarest and most interesting pieces, often working with the makers themselves, to create compelling exhibitions accompanied by catalogs documenting the work.
In the 1990s, Mark opened Gansevoort Gallery, where he continued to curate collections and exhibitions of lasting impact. Over the years, he established relationships with artists and their estates becoming the go to authority on the designs of Art Smith, Ilonka Karasz and Leza McVey, among others. His enthusiasm for the material extended beyond the gallery floor to the back room where lucky visitors got to flip through Mark’s impressive design reference library and discuss the importance of works with him.
A connoisseur and wealth of knowledge, Mark became a resource for prominent collections across the globe—private and public alike. He inspired a generation of collectors and dealers introducing designers and their production to an audience that continues to grow. In 2002, Mark closed Gansevoort and established 330 gallery in Hudson, New York. Now, semi-retired, Marks splits his time between New York and Florida. He still collects, curates, supports, and shepherds the scholarship of mid-century design.
Born in rural Illinois in 1907, Edward Wormley’s interest in design originated early in life and led him to later study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Due to financial reasons, Wormley dropped out after 2 years and began his first job in an interior design studio before joining the Indiana-based Dunbar Furniture Company where he served as director of design for nearly 40 years.
Following World War II, Wormley became an independent consultant branching out to design textiles, globe stands, and showrooms. He designed award winning collections for Drexel Furniture Company and was included in the Good Design shows of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Characteristic of his design elements were functional engineering, decorative laminated plywood, and unconventional upholstery.
Wormley characteristically honored aesthetic qualities, following influences of Scandinavian modernism, while maintaining utilitarian qualities and “designing for the needs” of others. His work is timeless and of the highest quality. Wormley died in 1995, but his legacy is celebrated in collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Montreal.
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