Master Class: Amy Lau

And her new book, Expressive Modern

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“Nature is a friend and teacher who continues to inform my interior design work every day.”

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Growing up in Northern Arizona, Amy Lau spent a great deal of time in an expansive back yard called the desert – riding her horse and being awestruck by nature.  Last week we visited in her glamorous Starett Lehigh loft, and she explained how the proximity to multicolored clay, expansive cloud formations, and sinuous tumbleweeds started her down a path that would lead to the interiors she creates in the canyons of Manhattan.

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We chatted about our shared educational background in fine art.  Her undergrad work was in art history.  I studied printmaking – zinc and copper plate etching to be precise.   During my freshman and sophomore years I was only allowed to print with black ink.  The philosophy was much like that of the old masters, who were required to produce superior grizailles before painting with lapis and vermilion.  It’s also the basis for understanding Lau’s distinctively sparse spaces, which showcase a distillation of craftsmen furnishings.

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“After college I spent time learning about decorative arts in Mexico, where I acquired an appreciation for the nations 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.”  I asked Amy about her penchant for turn-of-the-century modernism.  “After Sotheby’s I began working with Thomas O’Brien, running Aero Studio.  He shared his understanding of mid-century modern.  That lead me to my position as director of the Lin-Weinberg gallery – which helped elevate the stature of vintage modernist furnishings.”    While I was listening I noticed a collection of fabric swatches, wallpapers and carpet samples on the desk we were sitting at.  They seemed a departure from what one might imagine in her office.  Turns out she’d saved the most intriguing part of our conversation for last – and keyed me in on a new direction she’s been taking recently.  “I’ve begun investigating a mix of styles.  I’ve got a townhouse project that’s a cross between what people have come to know me for and more traditional ideas.  I’m taking my cues from the buildings original architecture.  It’s very exciting.”

While you wait to see the images of the finished townhouse (and 3 other projects I was promised will spark conversations), treat yourself to her book, Expressive Modern, which chronicles 13 of her celebrated interiors.  The text is written by Linda O’Keefe, who masterfully opens a portal into Amy’s design process.  It’s a necessary folio for the well-informed and well-rounded interior design library.

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Amy Lau Design    601 West 26th Street  Suite M272  New York  10001    212-645-6168

http://amylaudesign.com/

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