Industry Insiders: Sandra Novas, Event Engineer

Sandra Novas is the co-owner and chief creative director of the events firm the Siinc Agency in Miami. Novas handles clients such as Discovery Networks (Discovery Channel Latin America, Discovery Channel International and Discovery US Hispanic), Nokia Latin American and HSBC. For Art Basel, Siinc partnered with Audi to conceptualize and construct the 42,000 square foot Audi Art Pavillion in honor of the world premiere of the new Audi A8. Novas fills BlackBook in on the exciting project and tells us what she loves most about Art Basel.

How did you pair up with Audi? I founded Siinc Agency with my partner Isabel Chattas about a year and a half ago, but before that, I had my own agency called SGA Consulting. For six years I was working with Audi in different capacities: as a consultant, media buying sponsorships and later doing events.

How did you decide on the location of the Pavillion? The Audi Art Pavillion came forth because Audi wanted to find a unique venue and location to host the world premiere of the A8, so we started the process of scouting potential locations in Miami in late May of this year. We found the best location on a lot of sand north of the Eden Roc and the Fontainebleau on 46th and Collins. No existing structures in Miami were the right fit for the sort of presentation that Audi wanted, so we suggested that they build a temporary structure.

What’s inside? A selection from the Rubell Family Collection is displayed inside, called “Beg, Borrow and Steal”. They split the exhibit in two parts, which is one of the first times that they’ve done this. To see the entire collection, you’d need to come to our pavilion. The designer Tom Dixon created an installation called “Light Light” which is really stunning and beautiful.

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How long will the structure stay up? Nothing inside would lead you to believe that it’s a temporary structure. It looks permanent and very solid, but it’ll be torn down in about a week. Audi donated the space and they’re going to build a children’s playground there to thank the community for letting us ravage their sand lot for awhile.

What events have taken place inside? It’s been open since November 30th, when they hosted the Audi premiere and the next night, the Audi of America premiere. Last night, they had a South Florida Audi presentation and art school students came to visit the pavilion to speak with members of the Rubell Family Collection and some of the designers of the structure. The next planned event is for December 5th and the local band Suenalo is performing. This will be open to the public. It’s also open to the public from 12-8pm daily and there’s beer and wine bar service with light appetizers.

How is Art Basel different this year from years past? The way that people have scaled back this year is by putting exhibits inside. Almost everything this year is inside the Convention Center. Many of the containers that have housed art in years past are now moved to the Convention Center. The Cartier Dome that was once in the botanical garden is now indoors as well as Scope. A lot of the shows have been consolidated. Creating your own space has a significant additional cost. But, the fairs seem to be very well attended. At the pavillion, we’ve been over capacity.

How about the mood in nightlife? The big, splashy parties and events have been toned down and now there are much smaller after parties, but the atmosphere this year is really, really charged. People who are here are here for the art shows. I was at the W Hotel South Beach last night and there was no standing room. Even if the funding isn’t there, the interest in the art shows and interest in coming down here for them is still at peak.

And the crowd? There are a lot of younger people and young exhibitors. Newer galleries are taking advantage of the fact that it may be more expensive for the bigger, more established galleries to come down here and transport their art. The younger crowd is filling in the gaps. This is my fourth year working with Art Basel and year after year, I think more people are aware. At the beginning, it was very exclusive and a lot of local people didn’t attend the fairs. This year, I see more local people and I think it’s expanding. The art experience is really meant to be shared. I haven’t seen a somber mood this year.

Where are your go-to places? I’m really loving Mr. Chow. The food’s outstanding, and they never let you down. I also like The Standard. It’s one of the few places where you can really sit on the water and have a Bellini or a coffee. It’s much less of a South Beach vibe. I like Bardot, a lounge that opened in the design district a few months ago. I also love the Poplife parties.

What’s your favorite thing about Art Basel week? My favorite thing is being surrounded by so many people that have come from all walks of life and all spots on the planet to experience and share art. You feel that energy. You walk into conversations that are not typical in the other 51 weeks of the year in Miami. It’s very, very unique in that sense. The energy is completely different. It’s more international than the rest of the year, and I love being surrounded by that creative energy. It’s inspiring. A lot of the things that I see this week stay with me throughout the year and help inspire other events, programs and campaigns that we do.

Industry Insiders: Poplife, Miami Nightlife Kingpins

For a decade now, Miami’s citizens have flocked en masse to a party called Poplife. Initially created as an antidote to all that’s tried-and-trite in nightlife, the weekly throwdown blew up into a bona fide event-hosting group. The Poplife principals are Barbara Basti, Jake Jefferson and Aramis Lorie. Basti and Lorie are two of the original four founders; Jefferson came on board after he’d been sneaking into Poplife parties for so long that the other members decided to induct him into the crew. Together, the current threesome have devised some of the most incredible evenings in Miami, from bringing in record labels Fool’s Gold and Ghostly International during the town’s much-heralded Winter Music Conference to one-offs with everyone from Calvin Harris to Black Moth Super Rainbow.

Why Poplife? Aramis Lorie: We originally wanted a party that reflected our life, and so we just called it “Life.” When we went to incorporate, of course, the name “Life” was taken so we thought about pop music and its relation to the underground, and about carrying on from Prince’s 80s song. Mostly we just thought it was a cool name.

Where was the first event? Barbara Basti: It was at Mezza Fine Art in Coral Gables. It was really small, held around 200 people. We had bands perform, DJs. And it was packed. We did it for a year. With the constantly changing artwork and the personable size, it helped us subconsciously form what it was that we wanted to do.

And then you outgrew the venue? BB: Yeah, and we moved to Piccadilly Garden in the Design District.

How’d you choose that neighborhood? AL: It was in an area that was unexplored, and our party was out of the mainstream. Why go to South Beach with everybody else? We wanted something that we could develop on our own in an area that we thought fit with what we wanted to do. It made perfect sense. It had a whole Northeastern feel in the center of Miami. Jake Jefferson: That’s the year I started going to the party. It was 21 and up, so I used to sneak in with one of the resident DJs. I wouldn’t go anywhere on South Beach back then, and neither would my friends.

After two years, you decided to open up your own spot, called I/O. How’d you end up in NoDo (North of Downtown)? BB: We were looking for something in the downtown area; we felt we needed to move on from the Design District. I wouldn’t say it was ideal — if you’ve seen to this neighborhood you know what I mean — but we were still approaching business from an idealistic standpoint, and making do with what we had. We were very do-it-yourself, and this is what we could afford.

How long before you took over the place next door for PS14? BB: It was only a year.

Was that because you needed a separate outlet? AL: People would get hungry, so we thought we’d open a little pizzeria and feed their appetite. JJ: Before it was PS14, it was a late night pizza shop. For awhile, we had a window out back that opened right to I/O next door. People could grab a slice and they didn’t even have to leave the club. You’ve left White Room after a 20-some month stand, and you’re moving Poplife to Electric Pickle this Saturday. What’s behind the move? AL: The reason for our success as Poplife, I think, is we’ve always evolved. We’ve been good at keeping our hand on the pulse of things and just going with that. As opposed to trying to resist change; we walk with change. We had a great run at White Room, but we were due for a move, a different sort of space. BB: Plus we do so many larger events now during the week. Electric Pickle was the perfect way for us to scale back a bit and return to some of the idealism we had when Poplife first began, especially towards the music.

You’ve been doing larger events on the Beach, especially at LIV on Wednesdays. How’d that come about? JJ: Basically, they came to us. The marketing company that handles the club approached us when they were only open Fridays and Saturdays. Both of those nights were doing amazing, so they said they wanted to do something like what we do but with a bigger budget. Jimmy Vargas, the Marketing Director at LIV, reached out to us. We had a meeting, and it was pretty much full steam ahead from there.

But Poplife always seemed to be anti-Beach. Why the switch? JJ: There’s been a shift. South Beach used to only be about tourism; now they’ve realized that they’ve also got to incorporate the local market. Since we’ve got a corner on the local market, they called us.

Poplife also throws “Just Add Water” on Sunday afternoons at Blade at the Fontainebleau. What’s that about? BB: I’ve always really wanted to do a pool party. A fun alternative to going out at night; a place where we could get some sun, see some friends and still hear good music. After we’d been doing Dirty Hairy at LIV for awhile we approached Jimmy, and he said, “Go for it.”

Of all the shows Poplife has presented, you must have some favorites … BB, JJ, AL: Super hard to choose. Mylo at The District, Calvin Harris at White Room, seven year anniversary with Jamie Lidell at The District, Fools Gold at Poplife WMC 2009, and any time Of Montreal or Ratatat have played with us.

Where do you hang out in Miami? BB: Lemoni Cafe. Sandwiches, salads, soups. The food is great, it’s personable, it’s comfortable. And it’s conveniently located. JJ: PS14. Believe it or not, I really do go there on my nights off. Even on the nights I say I’m going to stay home, I come to PS. It feels like home. It’s my Cheers. AL: The Room. It’s a good thinking room. It’s intimate. It’s a place I can run into people I know, have a glass of Prosseco and not be bothered.