He’s a visionary designer, developer and builder. She’s a dedicated pediatrician. While their jobs couldn’t be more different, Manny and Dr. Brianna Varas approach their work the same way: They harness the power of personalization, and South Florida is better — and more beautiful — because of them.
As the out-of-the-box builder and brains behind MV Group, Manny Varas has bragging rights to the interiors of glittery new luxury projects like the Paramount Fort Lauderdale and Miami Worldcenter. He also helped create the waterfront estates of rapper Lil Wayne, several NBA stars, and the globetrotting owner of Zuma and Le Petite Maison.
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Manny Varas: Creating a Vision
These days, Varas, a Miami native who’s an alum of Florida International University and Harvard Graduate School of Design, views every new space like a blank canvas. “In our penthouses at Miami Worldcenter, we’re delivering them totally raw, meaning there’s not one wall, not one bathroom, nothing,” he said. “We’re able to take that empty space and really create what the clients want.”
Varas fancies himself a designer-detective, digging deep into the details of each client’s lifestyle. “Whether they’re single, married, have kids, or this is their second or third home, we capture what’s important to them.”
From a dining room snuggled inside a wine cellar to a rooftop skateboard ramp, nothing is out of reach for Varas and his team. “Lil Wayne wanted an elevator that really stood out, so we created one that landed in a pond filled with nurse sharks,” he said. “It’s those wow moments that we try to instill in every project we build.”
Brianna Varas: Path to Pediatrics
Likewise, Brianna Varas applies that same personalized approach to medicine at Sunset Pediatrics, a concierge practice in South Miami with a global clientele. Unlike some offices where children and parents are herded in and out, the multilingual Dr. Varas takes time to truly get to know her little patients, and she treats each family as a whole unit.
“When I was deciding my path in medical school, I couldn’t take myself away from the children,” she said. “I constantly found myself at their bedside. Choosing peds was a no-brainer for me.”
Varas, who completed her residency at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, is so committed to her patients that she went back to work this year just four weeks after giving birth to her second child. “I knew there were families who needed me. Having children of my own has made me so much more empathetic and understanding of where these moms are coming from.”
‘When I was deciding my path in medical school, I couldn’t take myself away from the children,’ she says. ‘Pediatrics was a no-brainer for me.’
At 32, Varas splits her office time with days at home so she can be closer to their two sons: Angelo, 2, and Nicolas, 8 months. She dreams of one day taking them on medical missions. “I’m very aware that there’s so much need in this world,” she said, recounting the 15 missions she’s embarked on in places like Haiti and Guatemala. “I want my sons to grow up seeing this need and understand they need to do everything they can to help others.”
Their Coral Gables Home: Built Around Them
What exactly does the home of a mega-interior builder and a concierge doctor look like? While it doesn’t have Lil Wayne’s shark elevator, the couple’s spacious two-story house in the Cocoplum neighborhood of Coral Gables — where Manny grew up and where his mom and brother live right down the street — is distinctly tailored to their lifestyle.
“Our company logo is ‘Built Around You,’ but that’s our mission at home too,” he said, describing their luxurious refuge as warm and comfortable. “We wanted a space that we could utilize.”
After entering through a grand, arched, wrought-iron front door, you’re greeted by a sparkling chandelier that delicately dangles from the foyer’s dramatic 25-foot ceiling. Strings of crystals, hung one-by-one, land at the top of a painting by local artist Alexander Mijares. The artwork was a wedding gift from Manny to his bride, portraying the couple wrapped in each other’s arms in front of a bridge that sweetly symbolizes their nuptials almost four years ago at Vizcaya.
An Open House for Family and Friends
Inviting white and beige-hued furniture reigns throughout the home. Some walls are adorned with paintings by Brianna, who majored in art before attending medical school. The entrance to the couple’s dreamy bedroom is a six-foot sliding barn door that’s always open, so the children feel welcome to wander in and Brianna’s friends can join her while she gets ready for one of the couple’s impromptu house parties.
‘My company logo is Built Around You, and that’s our mission at home too,’ he says. ‘We wanted a space that we could utilize.’
“We really like to entertain,” she said, heading into the kitchen. The nucleus of their home, the kitchen is where the Varas family gathers around a 16-foot onyx island with under-lighting that changes colors — red or green, perhaps, for a Christmas party; gold or blue when their mood is more mellow.
Nearby, a self-serve coffee bar invites guests to make their own espressos, and a wine fridge is stocked with water and sodas. “People don’t realize that when you have guests over, they’re shy,” Manny said. “We’re creating a comfort level where someone doesn’t have to ask for anything. We want ours to be a home that guests can enjoy.”
As for their own enjoyment, Manny likes to relax with a glass of single-malt Macallan in his wood-paneled mancave that’s fitted with an expansive bar. “I feel like it’s important to have one case of cabernet, one case of white wine and one case of Champagne at all times. You never know when you’ll have 25 people over.”
As if on cue, the doorbell rings: a delivery of wine.
Words by Angela Caraway-Carlton
Photography by Nick Garcia
Fashion and Interior Styling by Elysze Held
Hair and Makeup by Pasquale Caselle and Yady Ochoa
Plants and Floral Arrangements by Roses et Pivoines
Home Accessories by Nisi B Home Design Gallery
Styling Assistance by Angelica Ziegler and Samantha Torres
Fashion Assistance by Elisa Ramirez, Christian Cruz and Susana Medina
Photography and Production Assistance by Ricardo Mestre and Angela Bonilla
Set Assistance by Carolyn Batchelor and Katrina Vargas Vila