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Private Clubs: Excerpt from Underworld Fantasies

  • February 9, 2006
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  • Posted By Justin @ 1:04 PM

One of the hottest names in New York City's art and design scene is Justin Muir, principal designer for City Aquarium. The company has a client roster that includes the Sultan of Oman, billionaire Michael Barrington, and New York's majestic Dream hotel. Last year, Muir customized a $40,000 aquarium in Barrington's wine cellar at his Nantucket Island estate. Standing 6 feet tall and built into a wood wall, the aquarium features a dramatic handmade reef sculpture and exotic tropical fish.

Muir, who has a degree in marine biology, utilizes a team of interior and furniture designers, architects, sculptors, visual artists, and marine biologists to design one-of-a-kind aquariums that are expressions of water, light, space, and marine life. His residential custom aquariums start at $20,000 and his signature jellyfish aquariums start with a $150,000 price tag.

"High-end customized aquariums have become status symbols just like other expensive pieces of art or sculpture," Muir says. "For that reason, the fish and water are only part of the total package."

A minimalist designer, Muir places strong emphasis on the wood or other material encasing the aquarium. Typically, the furniture cost of a Muir-designed custom aquarium is nearly 70 percent of the total price. The centerpiece of many of his designs is the manmade reef and he also uses rare objects and statues in his aquascape design.



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