By Nicole Berrie
Photography by Justin Namon / ra-haus
ALAIA. RAW CHOCOLATE. CELINE. COLD-PRESSED JUICE. Incongruous? Hardly. It’s this innovative assortment that you’ll find at hyper-cool concept shop Alchemist, which has been quickly redefining the landscape of lifestyle retail in Miami Beach. Since opening their glass-encased shop nestled within the concrete floors of Herzog & de Meuron’s landmark parking garage, owners Erika and Roma Cohen have made a business on eschewing traditional stereotypes and blazing sartorial trails that are distinctly their own. With two shops located within 1111 Lincoln Road, Alchemist has lured a more discerning, internationally savvy crowd that include the likes of Brazilian glitterati, rockstars, hip hop honchos and starchitects to its undeniably cool merchandise, which includes cult Japanese brands like If Six Was Nine; covetable designer labels including Christian Dior, Rodarte and Saint Laurent; and an array of expertly curated novelty items such as Martone Cycling bikes, Chrome Hearts jewelry as well as an array of art books and beauty products from Rodin and Tata Harper. In other words? A design junkie’s dream.
Upping the ante even further, last month the Cohens unveiled a custom designed cooler by Zaha Hadid featuring fresh cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juices from jugofresh. “When we were first opening the store, my whole dream for the downstairs concept was to have a juice bar,” said Mrs. Cohen over chamomile tea at the Nespresso cafe next door to her ground floor shop. “There were all these rumors around town about a new juice place opening called jugofresh. We went to the shop the first week and I knew as soon as I walked in. I told Roma, ‘This is exactly what we need to sell at Alchemist.'”
This week, they will open the Colette Art Drive Thru at Alchemist for which they collaborated with the Paris high concept boutique on curating a collection of exclusive products from lighters to iPhone cases to a Hadid-designed candle featuring one of her buildings turned upside down. The scent? A smoky blend leather and citrus, which will be the shop’s signature scent in months to come. “It’s the perfect for Alchemist,” said Mrs. Cohen. “It’s dark but still in keeping with Miami.”
How would you describe the concept behind Alchemist?
At the time when we wanted to open a store, we would travel a lot, see stores from around the world but there wasn’t really anything like that here. As we’ve grown, Miami as a city has also grown. It’s become really international. We’ve changed and evolved with it. The whole meaning of Alchemist is evolution and transformation. We are very interested in art, design and obviously fashion. It’s always an integration of all the things that we love.
Does that draw a specific the Alchemist customer?
It’s very international. We have a huge Brazilian and Russian clientele. During Art Basel its definitely a mix of everywhere from New York to LA.
What is the buying philosophy behind your merchandise?
When it comes to Alchemist, we always think of us, what we would want to wear and what we would want to see in the store. Roma is definitely more dark and I’m more the feminine side of it. But together we are a good balance. We get each other’s aesthetic and know how it can be worked together. It’s what we’re passionate about and what we love.
Does that translate into your home?
At home there’s that balance also. I like a little bit more color and more fun and Roma will want to buy some crazy beaded African thing that we have in the corner but it’s actually really cool and works together.
What exciting things do you have planned for Art Basel?
We have a lot of new jewelry designers that we’re going to be debuting like Eugenie Niarchos of Venyx. Tom Dixon has a book called Dixionary so we’re going to do a window of all his home products and he’s going to sit in the window in one of his chairs and sign books.
What will the Drive Thru be like?
Its going to be four different posts, three of which you can drive through. Its sort of like the 1950s drive thru. Cars drive up, you place your order on an iPad and then a roller girl comes over and delivers the product. We’ve been holding castings for the roller girls online.
Image courtesy of Alchemist Image courtesy of Alchemist
Which artist are you most excited about?
Kehinde Wiley does these crazy bust sculptures so we’re going to make one of those in wax of an LA Laker. His whole take is that he takes the street culture and glorifies it. He’ll did this whole project with Riccardo Tisci where he photographed girls from the streets, put them in Givenchy couture and then painted them.
Are their certain designers that you’re loving now?
We love the new Saint Laurent. Roma’s always been a huge Hedi fan from the beginning when he was at Dior. As soon as we found out that he was going to be doing Saint Laurent, Roma immediately emailed them saying we need to be part of the launch. That whole rock and roll vibe is very Alchemist.
You recently introduced a juice bar at your shop. When did you get into juicing?
My first experience was Juice & Java. We had our shop on Washington and I would eat there everyday. It was really one of the only healthier places you could get green juice and I remember thinking there’s not a nice version of this for Lincoln Road or for the city in general.
So you guys did it your way with a Zaha Hadid-designed cooler! How did that collab come about?
Zaha is a client of ours and we had done a small exhibit called Parkichitecture with her the year we first opened. She loved the idea of a cooler. She created two benches where people could sit down and the cooler is integrated into it.
How would you describe your eating philosophy?
I’m not a crazy health food nut but I definitely like to eat healthy. I know I like how I feel when I eat healthy. I try to be moderate about everything. I’m definitely foodie, I love bad things like cheese and pasta. But I know when I eat too much of it I don’t feel good, I know I need to reboost like do a juice cleanse or do something to make me feel good.
How would you describe a day in the life of meals?
I would definitely have a lot of Jugofresh. I like their Supa Dupa Vert juice and I like to take the E3 live shots. They’re good for you and taste good. Whenever I feel rundown I get a ginger shot. For lunch, I like Carrot Express, they have a yummy kale and quinoa salad. On the weekends we go to Athens Juice Bar and pick up the fresh fruit because it’s right by our house and they have fresh ginger shots.
What was a recent health discovery?
Roma recently went to a holistic doctor Dr. Levinson because he has certain food allergies. He taught us what I’ve always known. Everything illness-wise starts with the stomach. Literally everything you put in your body, so you need to put good things in it.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
I love Mexican and I like to make a dip with fresh ingredients. I mix together avocado, tomato, onions and cilantro. I grill some corn and put it in there. Then I mix it all up with salt and black beans.
Image courtesy of Ms. Cohen’s Instagram Image courtesy of Ms. Cohen’s Instagram
You recently became a new mom! How has that influenced your outlook on health?
It changes your whole mentality. I never want to be sick around my baby. Even when I feel a little run down, I’m extra careful to make sure I don’t get sick. I want to make sure I’m healthy and around for the long run.