TheArsenale is a Hybrid Boutique for the Automotive Enthusiast
Take a Look Inside the Miami Design District Newcomer
Equal parts gallery, boutique, and showroom, TheArsenale feels purpose-built for Miami. In many ways, it is; though the concept, which marries high-end retail with an upscale concierge service, began as a digital storefront. The marketplace for niche items within the "universe of motion"—which includes cars, planes, boats, motorcycles, bicycles, and electric vehicles, as well as skate and surf boards—fits right into the South Florida lifestyle.
Located in Miami's Design District, TheArsenale's 1,800-square-foot showroom features a curated selection of rotating items including prototypes, concept designs, and one-of-a-kind pieces. The concept also features art and fashion inspired by the industry.
CEO and founder Patrice Meignan, a lifelong car enthusiast, began his career working for automotive magazines in Paris, founding Intersection Magazine in 2004. In this role, he familiarized himself with brands and designers ranging from international companies, to small specialty shops tucked away in European villages.
He established relationships with CEOs, founders, and creatives who opened his eyes to the level of mastery and ambition in industrial and automotive design.
"In the publishing world, it was typical for creatives to become photographer/producer/artist/ designer hybrids," he says.
When Meignan received an offer to join Renault F1 as a creative advisor, he stepped away from the magazine, sold his stake in a branding agency, and toured the world with Renault for two years.
During that time, Meignan was introduced to many talented designers and makers, whom he met with in garages, laboratories, galleries, studios, docks, and beyond, as he began a search for companies and brands who were pushing the innovation envelope in motion and mobility. This ultimately inspired him to launch TheArsenale as a virtual marketplace in 2015.
Meignan began to create contracts for online distribution with emerging designers and niche manufacturers. He focused on custom-designed products, prototypes, limited production runs, collectibles, and items that could best be classified as functional art. TheArsenale became a marketplace that positioned and marketed niche products to a selective audience of potential buyers. The concept evolved to becoming a concierge service of sorts.
Three years later, Craig Robins, the entrepreneur who developed the Miami Design District proposed that TheArsenale establish a brick-and-mortar location at a prime availability in the 4141 building in the District and the shop began to take shape in 2018.
Artistically bare, the surfaces of the showroom are fitted with little more than a gloss treatment on the concrete floors, and a textured industrial-style ceiling painted white to match the art-adorned walls.
Displayed in the showroom—which officially opened in June 2019—visitors may find a triptych of custom-decorated skateboards hung on the wall, a line-up of pastel-colored mopeds, trendy sneakers, or a display of custom iPhones by designer Hadoro Paris, which are made of carbon fiber, housed in stainless steel, and plated in gold or bound in alligator leather.
Among the gallery's unique pieces, an exhaust system from a Ferrari Michael Schumacher drove during his Formula 1 career is repurposed as a Bluetooth speaker. In another corner, a vintage-style bicycle co-designed by Dior and French bicycle brand called Bogarde is one of 100 in the world.
"We're not a garage. In order for a vehicle to be in here, there needs to be an art layer on top of it; we won't just show a car," says Meignan, though there's typically at least one automobile in the showroom—whether it be a race car or vintage classic. The showroom often has a Renault F1 car on display, which is favored by racing enthusiasts and Instagrammers alike.
Many of the showroom's pieces including the Renault F1 car and a Vanguard concept motorcycle, are currently en route to a pop-up in China, and will eventually settle into a permanent second location developed by Melco International in Macau's City of Dreams casino and resort. Though Meignan says he won't miss them, as he already has even more exciting pieces, including another Renault F1, on the way to Miami.
"The window is like the cover of a magazine. The display is always changing—each day we bring new items into the frame," says Meignan.