Miami-based designer Carola Pimentel founded Assure Interiors in the year 2000 to bridge the practical, functional needs of her residential clients in South Florida and the Caribbean with a blend of contemporary style rooted in timelessness. For more than two decades, Pimentel’s disciplined eye has guided interior transformations and honed in on the relationship between indoor and outdoor design. Assure Interiors’ recently completed Miami Modern House epitomizes Pimentel’s nuanced, enchanting “tropical modern” aesthetic. To bring it to life, Pimentel worked with the architect to design all the interiors—including the lighting. To learn more about the exquisite home, we sat down with the designer for insight.
Can you outline your path from being someone interested in interior design to becoming the founder of Assure Interiors? Was there a turning point where you knew this would be your future?
My parents, contemporary and Latin American art collectors, first introduced me to the world of architecture and design when they took me to see a hotel they were developing together in the Caribbean. They always tried to incorporate interesting art into their projects. I was very young, perhaps seven or eight years old, but I remember loving every minute of watching them create—alongside architects and builders—wonderful spaces.
By high school, I knew I didn’t want to be an architect or engineer, but I wanted to somehow be a part of building and design. During a college fair I luckily discovered the Interior Design program at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. You could say that an enjoyment of art-filled homes, as well as my parents’ involvement in the interiors and hospitality industries, prepared me for my career.
How do you work with clients to bring out their personal taste and deliver on their dreams, while incorporating with your design skills?
We take great care in learning about our clients’ lives, interests and practical requirements. For example, our most recent clients [on Miami Modern House] were a young tech-savvy international couple with small children who sought a serene interior which balanced home life, work and entertaining. We designed rooms that catered to everyone’s needs including a home office shared by the entrepreneur husband and fashion executive wife. In this stylish home office, walls covered in deep blue velvet have a sound absorption effect and the area rug ensures there are no echoes. A custom desk and shelving in satin lacquer maximizes the space and creates a private corner with a little pizzazz to work and be productive with plenty of natural night.
Can you describe your design approach and the studio’s “Tropical Modernism” aesthetic for us?
Assure’s approach to design often channels the lifestyle of places like Florida and California, as well as Rio, São Paulo and Angra dos Reis in Brazil, subtly blending indoors and outdoors. Structured planning, considered lighting and special finishes create a finely detailed envelope for decoration.
To clarify, I don’t design with tropical patterns and colors like a palm tree printed wallpaper. Our signature materials include white oak, walnut, natural stone, porcelain tiles and terrazzo selected. Great consideration is given to local climate and appropriateness in response to each client’s needs.
My early architectural influences included the work of Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi—particularly her Casa de Vidro house in São Paulo—and the Casa Estudio by Mexican architect Luis Barragán, which informed my approach to light, spatial planning and context.
What can the rest of the US learn from design in Miami right now?
There is an incredible energy in Miami right now. Latin American culture and European style are blending with an American work ethos. I suppose the big takeaway is inclusion across the arts, design and entrepreneurship. The rest of the country has Miami firmly on their radar. My team and I are busy designing for new clients relocating to our city for a great quality of life!
How does your love of art inform what you do?
We love incorporating bespoke elements with contemporary art and collectible design. I personally love art and I get a lot of inspiration from my own collection of contemporary Latin American and European works. Some of my favorite artists include Uruguay’s Pablo Atchugarry and Carlos Capelán, as well as Brazil’s Ernesto Neto, to name a few. I am particularly drawn to small-scale sculpture and wall-mounted installations, and attracted by the 3D-quality and impact the pieces create in the context of a room. For me, art is a very important element of an interior as it gives a room character.
Can you tell us what you thought when you first saw the Miami Modern House property? What were you surprised by?
From the start we envisioned modern interiors with warm elements coming together in a fresh and welcoming way. Rather than be surprised, we were incredibly pleased with the visual connection between the interiors and the exterior spaces of the house. The comfortable double-height terrace, for example, can be seen from the entrance hall, living room and kitchen/family rooms which wrap around it. A combined seating area, dining and an outdoor kitchen with barbecue also connects to the main kitchen via a glass door.
How did you balance serenity, functionality and style here? Tell us more about the interiors.
We have designed a supremely comfortable, beautiful and functional house for our clients. Everyone has their own space, the layered tactile materials suit the Miami climate and the crisply decorated rooms are infused with lots of natural light.
The Entrance Hall opens from a private driveway via a massive pivot door revealing a generous space and tall glass doors to the terrace and garden beyond. The Colombian rug in copper and plantain fiber adds depth and texture while being practical for a high traffic area. On the contemporary credenza a collection of vessels and a photo realistic painting add drama to the room.
The large, multifunctional open kitchen integrates a Japanese table in a secondary dining area plus a downstairs family room. We designed the custom cabinetry, incorporating plenty of storage and large durable quartz-topped island to accommodate cooking. On the table, a collection of Holly Hunt candle sticks brings subtle style to this secondary dining space used by family for daily meals as well as casual entertaining. A comfortable sofa with plenty of cushions for four to relax on was paired with Poltrona Frau leather side tables. Tall glass windows with views of the garden and terrace make the most of the house’s garden setting. Practical linen drapes take away the glare from the strong Miami sun.
The upstairs primary bedroom was designed as a large suite with a separate seating/TV area behind the bed and a large spa-like primary bathroom. In the bedroom a silk blend wallcovering creates a cocooning backdrop with the coziness enhanced by a silk rug and silk bedding from British brand Gingerlily. The dramatic Fendi mirrored screen creates privacy and functions as a dressing area. The boucle chair sits next to a vintage Spanish vase. Brass accents from the table lamp and bench inject a hint of warmth. Used throughout the house porcelain floors were selected for wearability in the Florida climate. Linen drapes, an Assure signature, integrate blackouts behind.
Is there something you’d love people to know about your practice?
We travel the world with and for our clients. We source furniture and accessories from across the US and shop internationally at wonderful Spanish, French and Japanese dealers, for example, as well as up-and-coming Miami, New York and California galleries.
I often explore markets in southern Europe, Morocco and Mexico. My eye allows me to confidently source and incorporate unusual finds and statement pieces from our network of resources into Assure’s projects. Due to our outlook and clients, our work is part of a wider story in international residential design today.