Modernism in Peru 

Born in New York, I lived between NY and Peru until age 12. My father was a colorful entrepreneur who introduced Mid-Century Modern style to Peru in the '50s. Dad was a pioneer of the knock-off. He designed prototypes (which we lived with at home), then began manufacturing them -- producing affordable modern furniture in a country where nothing existed for the middle classes.  

His factory - full of Formica tops, walnut bedroom sets, and boomerang tables - was a regular hangout for our family. We even lived in an International Style house fronted by a glass curtain wall, which was rattled during earthquakes. Life was never dull at our house.  


At age 12, I moved to Miami, where I lived until my twenties. Having moved back & forth between Peru and NY since birth, I was bilingual and found constancy in visual language. I became a visual thinker and soon was in love with the language of buildings. 

My best friend's father, Norman M. Giller, was an architect and originator of Miami Modernism, a movement now called "MiMo". He built spectacular fantasy-themed projects on Motel Row for vacationing American families. He actually invented the 2-story motel and brought central A/C to South Florida. Norman Giller was so modest that I had no idea about the full impact of his work until many years later. 

Driving us kids around to look at buildings, Mr. Giller reminisced about "Old Florida." He took me to my college interview at his alma mater and talked me into design school. Thank you, Mr. Giller. 

(Images used with permission from Designing the Good Life: Norman M. Giller and the Development of Miami Modernism, Norman M. Giller & Sarah Giller Nelson, University Press of Florida, 2007

Designing Women 

There was something in the water at my house. Just as I was entering design school, my mother made an announcement of her own: she was returning to school to pursue interior design, too. So while at different universities, we spent four years being students together.  

Mom became a successful residential designer in Miami. She even won Designer of the Year. In her forties with grown children, she had started over and built a successful new career for herself. It was bold, innovative - and I admire her for it.