Mies van der Rohe, the architect who proclaimed “God is in the details,” would have adored Bea Pila.
Pila is the doyenne of details — in her Coconut Grove home and in the homes of clients through her B. Pila Design Studio.
Unlike rooms some designers create that have the “nobody lives here” look, she designs spaces that reflect the personality and interests of their owners.
“She is extremely detail-oriented and that’s what you want in a designer,” said Ivonne Pino, lead designer at Mia Cucina, a distributor of Italian kitchens, doors, closets and furniture with showrooms in Aventura and Coral Gables.
“She is able to work with your space. She knows how to make it look right. Anybody can pick out furniture and make it look OK. She has an eye for architecture. Her eye is amazing. She sees details. That is what makes a house special.”
The eye for detail is evident throughout Pila’s Coconut Grove home, which she and Carlos Gonzales, her architect/builder husband, created to resemble a Tuscan villa.
“I lived all my life in homes that were not brand new and was terrified of living in a brand new home,” she said.
Pila was inspired to install Noce travertine tile flooring from Italy after a trip to Tuscany. She installed it inside the house and outside on the loggia and patio to “age” her new home.
Her design also reflects her family’s Cuban heritage. She applied colorful stained glass, popular in homes of the wealthy in 19th century Cuba, to the inside of fan-shaped hurricane windows in the family room.
Furnishings reflect her desire to make a home look as if it came together over time. She scoured thrift shops, antique stores and garage sales as well as designer showrooms. Her art collection comes from Cuba, Honduras and her artist grandmother. Crosses, including one her grandmother made out of 33 clothespins, frame a doorway on the second floor. Colorful art glass from mid-century to the 1970s sits atop a vintage bar from the 1950s. McCoy pottery is arranged in a breakfront from the 1940s. And Chinese foo dogs fill a cabinet from the 1940s that she found in a thrift store.
“I guess I’m an old soul,” she said, sitting on a sofa under a gallery wall of paintings. She may consider herself an old soul, but her personal style is au courant. She was wearing a Diane von Furstenberg classic wrap dress and Christian Louboutin platform stilettos.
Pila’s style has earned her several Design Excellence and Designer of the Year awards from the American Society of Interior Designers and the International Design Guild. Her work has been published in several magazines including Luxe, City & Shore, Casa & Estilo, Florida Design and Design Times, and she has appeared on HGTV and the DIY networks.
Recently she introduced the Suzani Collection to her clients and to her 5,000-square-foot Artistic Lifestyle showroom in Coconut Grove. Suzanis, which have been experiencing a revival in design the past few years, are colorful, hand-embroidered textiles created by mother and daughter teams in Uzbekistan. Pila has taken these fabrics and used them to upholster vintage finds — ranging from a Chippendale wingback chair from the early 1900s to a mid-century swivel chair.
“These vibrant colorful textiles really spoke to me and inspired a unique furniture collection that remains a passionate, creative adventure for me,” she said. “Each piece is like art in that it is not meant to be matched, but spotlighted within a space. They really work with any style — modern, transitional or even traditional.”