Deborah Desilets: “Morris Lapidus’ Architectural Contribution to Miami Beach” | Lecture at the 16th World Congress on Art Deco

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On Saturday, April 22, Deborah Desilets spoke at the Jewish Museum of Florida for the 16th World Congress on Art Deco lecture series.

In her lecture, Desilets narrates architect Morris Lapidus’ journey and his first encounters with Miami, which led him to become one of its quintessential architects of buildings like the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels.

She also discusses his work as a modernist architect who faced much scrutiny from his peers in the architecture world, and how his vision transformed Miami Beach into a world-class destination that is now celebrated for its unique architecture.

Deborah Desilets, an architect, fashion designer, artist, and author was Morris Lapidus’s last collaborator. She first met Lapidus when she was marketing director for the Miami-based firm Arquitectonica, after founding their computer lab in 1988.

Soon afterward Desilets left to create her own firm where she redesigned warehouse districts into Clubs for Miami and Miami Beach, and worked as an extra in 7 Miami films before she began to work with Lapidus on a number of design projects that explored each of his illustrious careers’ building types.

Desilets has lectured extensively Nationally and Internationally on Lapidus’s work. As a working mother of three sons, she broke many glass ceilings and progressively and bravely strove for her place in the conversation of architecture.

Desilets arranged the late lectures of Morris Lapidus for Yale University, Harvard, and Columbia. Desilets also delivered lectures for Lapidus at Austin Texas with Bill Scofield, Tom Ford, Stanley Marcus, and Todd Oldham; Pressing Style. A very successful reappraisal and rehabilitation of Lapidus’s architectural oeuvre was achieved with these lectures.

Desilets continues to lecture to students at the Design and Architecture Senior High School where in 1993 she taught computer-aided design after building the computer lab there through extensive and generous grants with $18K in donated equipment and programs.

The 16th World Congress on Art Deco was made possible with the support of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida, the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies, and the Art Deco Society of the Palm Beaches.

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