Home Decor

Hernan Arriaga is a Miami interior designer with a global sensibility

Hernan Arriaga, born in Argentina, was a model before becoming a star interior designer. Photograph by Nick Garcia.
Hernan Arriaga, born in Argentina, was a model before becoming a star interior designer. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

The first meeting Hernan Arriaga has with a new client is in the client’s home. Arriaga arrives, and they visit for two or three hours. Clients tell him about special pieces of furniture, a favorite artist or why they have a certain table. He notes what type of décor the clients prefer, the quality and how it has been maintained.

What Arriaga is looking for is a connection, because trust is key. When Arriaga designs an interior, it is meant to last forever. And forever is built on absolute faith between interior designer and client.

“It’s about synergy. The energy that flows,” Arriaga said. “If we work together, it’s a done deal. I am going to give 150 percent of myself to my clients.”

Hernan Arriaga. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

He’s a former model

For Arriaga, his entry into interior design was much like that first client meeting. Arriaga knew he was going to be an interior designer the moment he walked through a home in Pennsylvania.

“Early American, incredible architecture,” Arriaga said. He was shown the home by a man who designed the interiors, and he knew right then that interior design was his future.

Arriaga was born in Argentina, and moved to the United States at 24 years old. He worked as a model but had an inclination for drawing. He even fixed windows and houses when he was younger.

Before moving from Argentina, interior design was not on Arriaga’s radar. After that Pennsylvania walk-through, Arriaga sold everything he had to attend the New York School of Interior Design. He worked at design firms during and after school, before deciding in 2006 that it was time for a change.

“I needed a city that allowed me to work in English and Spanish and use my background,” Arriaga said. “I moved to Miami. From the beginning, my career has been a blessing.”

High-end projects include Porsche Design Tower and Echo Brickell

Arriaga’s first client blended his former career with his current one: Ines Rivero, a former supermodel, fellow Argentinian and friend from New York. Since working on Rivero’s Miami home, Arriaga hasn’t stopped.

“It’s a lifestyle. It’s not something you’re sold, it’s something you learn. My job is to educate my people, my clients,” Arriaga said. “I give them a new lifestyle that is molded to everything they do at every time during the day.”

Today, Arriaga’s firm has six employees, in addition to contractors and vendors. He can be found in the pages of magazines like AD and Elle Decor. His firm handles high-end residential projects as well as commercial ventures. Look to Porsche Design Tower and Echo Brickell for examples of his work. Arriaga works with Armani/Casa and is in talks with a French furniture designer to launch a collection.

Arriaga’s clientele is global. Currently, he has at least 18 projects in cities across Florida, New York, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and more. Clients hail from the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.

“An airplane is my life,” Arriaga said. “I love it. You need that love for what you do.”

More: WLRN’s Nadege Green covers Miami in search of raw truth and tender moments