By Michelle Payer
Step into the AQ Bar and light pours in through rotating wall panels that resemble canvas works of art with textured brush strokes of deep purple and warm blue, offering a peek into AQ Chop House by Il Mulino by day before gently closing in the evening. By night, guests are transported to a sultry environment of Paris’ La Belle Époque. Conversations buzz, a Lucite chess board begs for attention, while an Art Deco-style backgammon set sits demurely to the side amidst books and an oversized custom mural on an architectural wall.
Here, elegantly outfitted mixologists create magic with each carefully constructed cocktail. “We want people to feel free to sink into one of the comfortable seats, have a drink, play a game with family or friends, and feel as if they have been taken to a completely different place, which is calming but fun,” says Sean Saladino, Principal of Saladino Design Studios, which transformed the elegant space.
There is nothing typical about AQ Bar, from the crushed velvet mid-century modern furniture to the elaborate art collection recently installed in the stylish space. The only collection of its kind in any South Florida hotel, each piece is a limited-edition original print, created and signed by some of the world’s foremost living and deceased artists including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Longo. Sculptures include a Jeff Koons Red Balloon Dog from the original Balloon series released in 1995, while original prints include Andy Warhol’s Birth of Venus, which retails for $105,000 (special pricing is offered to Acqualina guests and residents).
“This is completely unique to Acqualina in terms of the artists that have been chosen, the investment grade level of the art, the prestige of the pieces and the compilation itself,” explains Erin Wolov with Fine Art MIA, the gallery that worked in partnership with Acqualina Resort to create this important anthology. “We want the Acqualina community to engage with art,” says Wolov, “to bring a consciousness of the amazing contemporary artists in [whom] people are investing and start a conversation.”