Name: Amy Lau
Company: Amy Lau Design
Address: 601 W. 26thStreet, New York, NY 10001
Office Number: 212-645-6168
Position within company: Principal
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
Growing up in Northern Arizona, I spent a great deal of time in an expansive back yard called the desert – riding my horse and being awestruck by nature. I earned my undergraduate degree in art history from the University of Arizona. After college I spent time learning about decorative arts in Mexico, where I acquired an appreciation for the nation’s best crafts, skills and artistry. I then enrolled in the American Fine & Decorative Arts master’s program at Sotheby’s, which equipped me with the academic background I needed to pursue a career in design. After graduation, I served as a director at Thomas O’Brien’s Aero and spent five years as the design director of noted mid-century specialist Lin-Weinberg Gallery in New York City. It was through these experiences that I decided to found my own interior design studio Amy Lau Design, which I have been principal of since 2001. I’m extremely proud of my accomplishments this year. I was named one of AD100’s top designers and architects, and was included in Luxe Interiors + Design’s 2018 Gold List.
Amy Lau Design – Photography by Mark Seliger
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
I take a curatorial approach to design, creating collections of fine and decorative arts that articulate my clients’ interests. My approach is to define a space by layering it with furniture and accessories with historical interest, that are hand crafted, and elegantly detailed. I would have to describe my work as organic and ever changing. In creating spirited and meaningful environments, I draw upon the inherent beauty of natural materials and landscapes. I spend time getting to know the surroundings so I can understand the foliage, light, skylines and other natural elements that will provide the visual foundation for each space.
While designing a space I embrace both art and design, enlivening and giving warmth to each personalized space with dynamic mixes of antique, vintage, and contemporary pieces, as well as site-specific commissions. As both a design curator and interior designer, I also look towards the future, commissioning one-of-a-kind works and installations by emerging talents and living legends in the worlds of art and design with the potential to become tomorrow’s heirlooms. I conceive my interiors as a total work of art, so every piece in an environment has a supporting role within that space, so all is in harmony. My interiors reflect my client’s interests and tastes, therefore my job is to understand who they are and then educate them by lifting their tastes to higher levels of connoisseurship so they can make the right decisions while I honor their particular tastes and styles.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
Primarily, I look to nature to be inspired – I find incredible color palettes by observing the subtle change from blue to green on a bird’s wing or the intricate detailed pattern on a butterfly. I am an avid scuba-diver so I also love the unexpected color combinations in the schools of fish, coral reefs and sandy beach towns. Diverse cultures also inspire me – from Japan to Turkey, Mexico to Saudi Arabia – each has a story to tell and a wealth of history, tradition, and artistic technique to explore and incorporate in my work.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Virtual Reality will change the way we are able to walk a client through a space we have designed, and have them experience particular design choices within an architectural structure. Clients can now see virtually how wallpaper, paint color, furniture pieces and flooring look with the click of a button. 3D printing has allowed me to quickly demonstrate my ideas to a client immediately. I have used it to show intricate details on furniture pieces that have been made in small scale in their whole form, moulding details and screens. The time between an idea’s conception and its implementation has been drastically reduced.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2018 and beyond.
• Harmony and connection
• Texture and color
• Artisanal and unique pieces
• Integration of technology
• Creating the heirlooms of tomorrow today
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
It’s important to have a dynamic mix of pieces in a home – vintage and contemporary pieces – as it helps the space to feel personalized and unique. A sense of balance can be achieved with seemingly disparate furnishings, fixtures and accessories by filtering your selections through the lens of a distinct color palette, making sure your woods, fabrics, metals and other finishes all harmonize. This stops the mix from looking jumbled and keeps it feeling intentional and well-curated.
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
Winning an ID&A award is very important to our firm, Amy Lau Design; it serves as a testament to our company’s work ethic, dedication and unique work. It also offers our firm international awareness and recognition.
What projects are Amy Lau Design currently working on?
I recently finished an apartment in Manhattan, a beach home in Bridgehampton, and another cow-hide rug line with Kyle Bunting. I’m currently designing a 21,000-square-foot Dallas residence, a four-bedroom family home on Long Island, and a Brooklyn townhouse. One exciting project our team is working on is a seven-bedroom home on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, as well as a gorgeous home in Palm Beach, Florida.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months and for Amy Lau Design?
I love working with and focusing on my clients, learning about them and their spaces. I look forward to finding new artisans to collaborate with to create perfect bespoke pieces; the heirlooms of tomorrow. I’d also consider designing more studio lines, especially furniture, and one of my goals is to work on a bespoke hotel someday.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
I like to live my life simply, surrounded by wonderful friends, and learning something every day. My daily inspirations echo this; I can be inspired by a line I read, the pattern of shade thrown by leaves onto a wall, and a piece of art, among a million other things that pass my consciousness every day. I live by the mantra “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”
Your most treasured possession?
A wonderful rocking chair designed by my dear, dear friend, Vladimir Kagan, which was intricately embroidered with elements of nature in woolen yarn by his lovely wife, Erica Wilson.
Your favourite holiday destination?
You wouldn’t think a red headed, freckled, fair skinned girl would love the Mediterranean as much as I do. Greece happens to be my most favorite place. I have visited all over the world: Djerba in Tunisia, Panera in the Aeolian Islands, Bodrum in Turkey, Ibiza in Spain, Oman and Qatar, the Emirates, and Kyoto in Japan, just to name a few. Each year I try to go to two international destinations I have never been before.
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar?
The Shed in Santa Fe New Mexico, has been a family institution all my life. Hotel Dar Dhiafa in Djerba Tunisia is a real hidden gem with chic rustic walls, asymmetrical rooms, funky Berger furniture, bougainvillea-filled courtyards and bizarre cacti growing in twisted curlicues. I also love The Post Ranch Inn in California and the Amangiri Hotel in Utah.
Your favourite book, film & song?
Book: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Song: “Fields of Gold” by Sting
Movie: Fiddler on the Roof
Your favourite food and drink?
Authentic Mexican cuisine with silver tequila.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Spending time with friends, going to yoga, visiting museums, watching documentaries and adventuring!
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would be a marine biologist.