She's a brilliant colorist whose signature style adapts mid-century for a new century. Now, New York-based designer Amy Lau looks back at six of her favorite projects and remembers the ideas, artisans, and creative inspirations that made them so successful.
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Vibrant colors and textures inspired by the sea and sky invite relaxation at this Hamptons summer home, which is embellished with a mix of artisan and vintage pieces. References to water are evident throughout: in the living room where a Tai Ping rug evokes turquoise waves lapping against sun-bleached sand, in the art, and in the accessories. High-gloss Benjamin Moore paints give each room added dimension, and a watery sensation. We blew out the living room and made the fireplace, clad in bianco dolomit, the focal point. It also doubles as a bench with a niche for firewood. I selected each piece of marble personally to ensure it was perfect. The pendant lights are custom made by Apparatus. Photos: Thomas Loof
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A very special piece in this space is the ombre stair runner that progresses from sea foam to teal.
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As with all my spaces, fabric plays a very important part, and here were influenced by the beautiful outdoors. Many of the fabrics, as in this bedroom, are painterly, watery, and calming, in shades of blues and greens.
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This space was originally five separate apartments that ultimately became a show-stopping triplex. The volume of the living area was enormous, with 19-foot high ceilings, and it was a very unusual shape. My greatest challenge was anchoring the pieces within the space so that the volume remained impressive, but that the room would also be comfortable for intimate conversations. I proposed working with Vladimir Kagan, who designed very special curved sofas to frame the space with seating on both sides—facing the windows with a view of the pool, with the other side facing into the room—perfect for conversation. Photos: Bjorn Wallender
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One of the most memorable pieces is the incredible Malcolm Hill sculpture designed to fill the vast, empty wall in the double-height living room. He began with concept drawings, then created a scale model of the piece. The final artwork had to be produced off site, in 22 individually carved sections that were then put together on site with very careful patching and seaming. Because of the difficult shape of the space, rectangular or square rugs would not work, so I collaborated with Fort Street Studio on two custom silk rugs, one round and one oval, to delineate the separate seating areas. Making templates for the rugs and sofas on site ensured that each of the pieces works harmoniously within the space.
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This was a frumpy Hamptons beach house that I transformed by lightening and brightening it into a showcase for art and unique finds. The living room palette was inspired and anchored by a series of etchings by Anish Kapoor, which are bathed by light from the incredible windows. This home has a very strong connection to nature and the nearby water, which is reflected in the custom living room rug, which is reminiscent of a watercolor painting, or of water lapping on sand. Photos: Thomas Loof.
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I collaborated closely with lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, who hand knotted the rope of the chandelier above the dining table.
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I wanted to created something magnificent in the entry way, which has an incredibly high ceiling, so I worked with Lindsey to create a very special piece: a chandelier both mounted to the ceiling and connected to the wall as a sconce—the first time Lindsey had created such a piece. We had to blow many different globes to get the correct colors—11 different shades of blue—and we also played around with platinum foil to give additional depth to the globes.
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Park Avenue Triplex
This was an exciting four-year process of renovation, curation, and decoration, for a client who adores color and texture, and has a great eye for fine art. One of the most notable pieces commissioned for the living room was the epic Jorge Lizarazo rug woven in a diamond pattern from metal wires and natural fibers. The rug was designed to complement the paintings in the room by Roberto Matta, Wifredo Lam, and Diego Rivera. Using the dominant colors of these paintings, Lizarazo designed a color-blocked rug with organic edges. This was the first time he had ever designed such a piece, and it was technically extremely difficult. The installation proved to be quite a memorable day: it took 11 people to place the rug in the room! Photos: Thomas Loof
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This home turned out to be one of my favorite collaborations with Vladimir Kagan: his Clarissa sofa was designed specifically for my client. It’s a particularly seductive and elegant piece, conceived after dozens of sketches and discussions. Vladimir paid very special attention to the leg and back details to ensure it could be viewed as a piece of art from any direction.
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East End Avenue Residence
These wonderful clients own an incredible collection of African art and Scandinavian ceramics. They—plus the views of the East River—served as stepping off points for the interior. The color palette of blues and turquoises in the living area reflects the colors of the horizon and the river throughout the seasons, and the master bedroom curtains were hand dyed in shades of blue for the same reason. I enjoy collaborating with artists and artisans, and my clients often love the opportunity to participate as well. Photos: Thomas Loof.
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One of the greatest challenges was devising a way to divide the living and dining areas. I came up with the idea of a bronze screen by Silas Seandal. Initially I worked with Silas on a conceptual model, 20” high x 24” wide, which we presented to the client, before developing the piece that we eventually installed in the space.
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I was proud to be the first interior designer to be invited to exhibit at The Salon Art + Design in New York. The fair showcases the finest international galleries exhibiting historical, modern, and contemporary furniture, and groundbreaking art and design of the late 19th through 21st centuries. Our installation, “The New Nouveau,” presented a living room environment, conceived as a unified whole, that encompassed a vast array of mediums—ceramics, glass, metal, textiles, wood, and showpiece minerals, including a 307-carat Burle Marx Brazilian Opal and an18-karat gold necklace. Photos: Daniel Kukla
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Every object was either commissioned specifically for the space, or was procured from private dealers or collectors. Each piece paid homage to the influences of Art Nouveau over its 120-year legacy. The greatest challenge was expressing that idea within an interior of a mere 400 square feet. The logistics of creating paneled walls on a temporary structure was also quite a feat, as was the rapid install and de-install necessary for a week-long fair.