A designer, sculptor, and public artist (she recently created her second large-scale installation at Miami International Airport), Michele Oka Doner is first and foremost a Miami native, who grew up on Miami Beach in the late 50’s and 60’s. T+L gets a look at the city through her eyes.

Q: What was it like to grow up as the daughter of Kenneth Oka, the former Miami mayor?

A: I knew even then it was a pretty magical time. The city was at the height of its 1950’s era of glamour, full of interesting characters.

Q: Do you see parallels between Miami then and the city today?

A: In the 50’s, the long arm of Hollywood extended to Miami Beach—the women wanted to look like Ava Gardner and the girls like Sandra Dee. Now, with all the stars on South Beach, it’s very similar, though the skin-to-air ratio is higher.

Q: What do you think of the contemporary art scene in Miami?

A: It’s evolved from nothing—we used to be such a backwater—and become something quite spectacular, a magnet for the world.