Luxury automotive brands including Mercedes , Porsche , and Pininfarina (the Italian design house whose core client is Ferrari) have all announced or opened branded residential towers. Now bespoke British manufacturer Aston Martin has followed suit, announcing its participation, in partnership with G and G Business Developments and Revuelta Architecture, in a high-end high-rise tower—the Aston Martin Residences—on the last remaining waterfront site along Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
Aston Martin chief creative officer and design head Marek Reichman will be responsible for the public spaces, including two lobbies, a fitness center, and a spa, using finishes and sensibilities in line with the 104-year-old automaker’s exquisite, clubby vehicles. “And if some of the customers say, we would love for you to design our interior,” Reichman says, “we will be happy to do that, too.”
As an independent company that produces exclusive low-volume, high-reputation, high-cost cars for an international clientele, Aston Martin brings to the project a wealth of knowledge of what elite customers desire. Apparently, part of this is the striking and unconventional, like interior switch trim matched to an owner’s favorite platinum jewelry or a hood ornament made of lacquered beetle wings—both projects Aston has completed in its cars. “The materials we use are very exotic—we are living in an exotic world, even compared to a lot of luxury apartments,” Reichman says. “And you sometimes wouldn’t necessarily think about those materials in your home, but actually, they’re very applicable.”
Despite the building’s name, Reichman notes that the branding exercise is “everything but literal.” There will not be any automotive amenities such as drive-in elevators or car concierges. Neither will the apartments reflect the proportions or shape of car designs. Rather, the connection will be experiential. “What you will get is exactly what you will get sitting in an Aston Martin DB11 on a long journey, and that is a sense of involvement and comfort,” Reichman says. “The most amazing thing about the DB11 for me is that it’s an incredibly powerful sports car, but you can sit in that car for a long time and still remain motivated and enjoy your environment. Which is just how you want to feel at home.”
Company executives want customers to feel the same awe in an Aston Martin condo as they do in their iconic cars.
Why would a luxury automaker enter into a residential partnership like this? The answer is, in part, to foster a deeper connection to the brand, one that transcends the vehicular. To retain consumers long-term, brands such as Aston Martin feel they need to create a holistic lifestyle multiverse, one that brand ownership allows customers to access and inhabit fully, wherever they are.
This quest for ubiquity seems a bit at odds with the kind of exclusivity that luxury manufacturers attempt to instill, but brand extensions have become a big business for automakers. Jaguar, Bentley, Mercedes, and others offer branded leather goods, branded custom tour packages, branded yachts and cruises, and branded helicopters, allowing their customers to remain connected to their logo even while they’re away from their car. The goal is to make consumers feel like they’re part of a special club whose membership and amenities follow them everywhere.
In talking about the apartment project, Reichman reflects on this insider nature. “I think this building is for people who appreciate luxury, who love the feeling of something which is timeless, and especially those who love the fact that if you’re part of the world of Aston Martin, you get a great thumbs-up from the product you drive, and you walk away with a kind of pride in ownership and a sense that the car is beautiful, a kind of wow,” he says. “I think the customer is going to be wanting that same feeling when they come to look at an apartment.”
Whether the proximity of the residential projects will enhance or undermine the sense of exclusivity these automakers and developers desire remains to be seen. The Porsche, Pininfarina, and Aston Martin towers are all in Miami, a confluence that seems to approach oversaturation.
“While it is not a perfectly logical complement, luxury automotive branding on real-estate assets can create greater awareness for both brands and elevate the offerings of each,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of lifestyle research and consulting firm the Luxury Institute. “As the luxury industry remains challenged, we will see more brand partnerships and experimentation,” he says. “Many of the experiments may not succeed, but that is the nature of innovation.” The sales office for the Aston Martin Residences is slated to open next spring, with groundbreaking expected in the summer.