Juan Montoya’s New Tome Is a Tropical Vacation in Book Form

You can practically feel the heat.

February 26, 2021

If a year spent at home has you longing for a voyage to a far-flung destination, Designing Paradise: Juan Montoya might be just the thing to satisfy your wanderlust. The A-list decorator’s new book features a collection of his luxurious projects in Punta Mita, Cap Cana, Miami Beach and more, where blue skies and ocean skies are de rigueur. Read on to get a peek into his high-style world via an introduction by beloved design editor Wendy Goodman.

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I started crying midway through looking at layouts for this book, and I didn’t stop until I got to the very end. What was happening? I’ve never cried looking at a design book. Was I having a breakdown due to the crises of our current times? Or was it that looking at so much beauty felt like a thing from the distant past—that I feared I would never again smell the sea or feel the ocean breeze? Add to that the heartbreakingly beautiful photographs of the lush interior and exterior landscapes that Juan Montoya is so famous for making.Although I had never visited any of these ravishing residential spaces, I could imagine the sensation of being in each and every extraordinary, luminous setting. The images alone conjure such a palpable sense of family and the abiding love that the best homes reflect, and that Montoya’s work has always embraced.

In lieu of an impractical rug, Montoya defined the outdoor living room with a border of river stone mosaic. All the furniture, which he refers to as “very Out of Africa,” is designed by Montoya. Overhead are Balinese baskets repurposed as light fixtures.Eric Piasecki

Since the beginning of my career as a design editor, before I even met Juan, I was deeply in awe of his legend; he was one of the greatest of the greats I had hoped to meet. Now that I have had the joy of getting to know him a little bit, that awe runs even deeper, with the understanding of how his interiors are designed to become such warm and embracing environments that illustrate the potential of what a home can be.

His rooms breathe the air of happiness, ready to welcome the best of times with friends and family; they invite gatherings just as much as they offer the delicious serenity of spending time alone in the refinement of their composition. Montoya’s personal elegance and warmth are always reflected in his work. His genius for being able to create magical interior worlds for his clients is grounded in his deep knowledge of history and art as well as in his respect for the precious skills of artisanal talent.

For a Miami Beach home, the design team interpreted the Angkor Wat inspiration through the lens of art deco, which, Montoya notes, traced an influential path throughout the world, taking on various localized flavors (think Rabat, Bombay, Shanghai, and others). Here, it is reflected in flat roofs, rectilinear volumes, the use of black and white, the “X” motif on the doors and entry gate, streamlined pilasters, and the custom-designed lanterns flanking the gate.Ken Hayden

Designing Paradise is a book of Montoya’s houses built for pleasure, for relaxation, and for escape—a work that illustrates the dreams he has made come true for his very lucky clients. If ever we needed paradise, especially a paradise we can hold in our hands to revisit again and again, that time is now.

In a Dominican Republic home, the living room palapa appears to float on an island surrounded by a pool tiled in shimmering cobalt-blue glass tiles.Miguel Flores-Vianna

Adapted from Designing Paradise by Juan Montoya.