In 2008, Michael Saiger founded Miansai in Miami with the brand’s iconic hook bracelet—a sophisticated nautical piece that shines with elevated casualness. He handmade the piece during his junior years at the University of Miami in his apartment, which set the stage for how all pieces are made today. Each design is meticulously handcrafted in the brand’s Miami warehouse with high quality materials, including fine Italian leathers, precious metals, and custom-made marine grade ropes. Over the past nine years, Miansai has also grown into a multi-category accessory brand, now carrying additional bracelets, watches, rings, leather goods, and more, with products available in 36 countries and in 40 states in the U.S.
Today, the brand is celebrating its newest endeavor—a two-piece capsule collection launch with Museum of Ice Cream, who is making its Miami debut at the Faena Forum on December 13 (with a preview during Art Basel on December 6–11). The collection—featuring a palm tree necklace and the iconic screw cuff in gold plated sterling silver and pink enamel—will be available exclusively at the Museum of Ice Cream’s San Francisco location, as well as the new Miami location.
The partnership flourished when Miansai Fashion Director, Rachael Russell, met the Founder of Museum of Ice Cream, Maryellis Bunn, and the two decided to create something unique and authentic for the museum’s welcome to Miami. “As Miansai is based here, it’s a natural fit for Museum of Ice Cream to connect with a brand that has such strong roots in the market. The pieces are quintessentially Miami with a twist,” said Russell.
“Miansai is headquartered in Miami, so it’s always refreshing to get the chance to work on a capsule collection for something relevant to our surroundings. So many great cultural things are happening in Miami right now and we could not be more pleased to be here and take part. We are especially excited to have the unique opportunity to partner with Museum of Ice Cream,” added Saiger.
To learn more about merging art and jewelry design, and the latest pieces’ playful, sophisticated nature, we spoke to Saiger and Museum of Ice Cream’s Head of Retail, Trina Chan.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us a bit more about how this collaboration came to fruition, and what makes this collection unique?
MICHAEL SAIGER: The collaboration came about when Rachael met Mary a few months back, through mutual friends Isabela and Dave Grutman, and they both wanted to create something unique and authentically “Miami” for the launch. This collaboration is quite different from any we’ve done in the past, so it was fun to go outside of what we would normally do, and create something fun, playful, and quintessentially “Miami.”
WW: What do you and the museum have in common? Any shared interests, goals, or inspirations?
MS: We align a lot with Museum of Ice Cream’s mission to design environments that bring people together and provoke imagination. While our aesthetics are quite different, the design element of Miansai is really important to the brand, and it shows in our two flagship retail locations (Venice and SoHo) and in our growing mobile retail fleet of nine units.
WW: What do you personally like about the Museum of Ice Cream?
MS: I love that that museum encourages ideas and inspires people constantly. While it isn’t a traditional museum, I think it’s great that they have created this brand that brings people together and helps them to connect with their inner child. They’ve created such a huge following on their social media channels and created an experience that promotes social engagement extremely well.
WW: Can you tell us a bit about the two pieces you’re launching—the Palm Tree Necklace and the pink Screw Cuff? Why these two pieces?
MS: The screw cuff is our iconic piece synonymous with the brand, so it made sense to include it while incorporating their infamous pantone. The Palm Tree necklace is a newer style, but is quickly becoming one of our more popular pieces. Palm trees are the perfect representation of Miami, so it was a natural fit—and the pieces are classically Miansai and Miami with a twist.
WW: Tell us a bit about how you’ve seen your company grow to meet the needs and interests of its audience since its foundation in 2008.
MS: Miansai started with men’s accessories, then expanded to women’s as we saw a lot of demand from girls wearing our products. The retail industry has evolved so much over the past 10 years, and we’ve done a great job of keeping up with changes. We introduced our first mobile retail unit, a refurbished airstream trailer, in 2012 which allowed us to test out retail without the investment of a brick and mortar location. It became so popular we’ve expanded it over the past few years adding an additional nice units, as well as our flagship retail locations in NY and L.A. Our customers buying habits have evolved and shopping more and more from their mobile devices, so we relaunched our website a few months back to keep up with those changes. We collaborate and partner with like-minded brands and always are ahead of the curve in setting trends in the industry.
WW: Trina, can you tell us a bit about the decision to open a temporary Museum of Ice Cream exhibition in Miami?
TRINA CHAN: Museum of Ice Cream marks the start of the season in Miami, and it was a natural time for us to preview our fourth location and to return to the east coast after nearly a year and a half. We have always loved Miami—it’s design, architecture, and the incredible mix of cultures—and with the challenges of Zika and hurricanes, we thought it would be an incredible addition to south Florida this year. We also think we are going to be a nice change of pace and escape from the art fairs and events. After ten hours of art fairs, what better way to unwind then unleashing your inner child in 100 million sprinkles?
WW: How is this location special for the museum’s temporary exhibition?
TC: Each location is completely different. The opportunity to be in Faena District in an OMA-designed brand new building—with a truly incredible inner courtyard that creates this incredible mix of indoor-outdoor throughout—was just too great of an opportunity for us to pass up.