When philanthropists Al and Kate Tylis purchased an apartment in a Robert A.M. Stern–designed building on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, they noticed that most of their neighbors had taken a traditional approach to their decor. But the Tylises wanted something different: a contemporary space-warm and modern-to complement Stern’s bold, classical gestures and soaring ceilings.
Their search for an interior designer with a fresh sensibility led them to Samuel Amoia, who began his career working for ELLE Decor A-List designer Stephen Sills and who is known for, in addition to his design work, his eponymous line of furniture.
In approaching the gut renovation, Amoia looked to a surprising-but for him, essential-influence: Michelangelo. “He was incredible,” says Amoia, who often thumbs through a book of the Old Master’s complete works that he picked up at a Taschen sample sale years ago. “The colors, the tones, the settings-I pull a lot of ideas for color and form from that book.”
The apartment’s striking new entry sets the tone, from the gold-plastered walls to the custom ceiling mold that was made by hand. Fittingly, the centerpiece is a multicolored sculpture, by the contemporary artist Annie Morris. “Our reaction when we first saw that piece was simply, Wow,” the homeowners say.
The design choices in the apartment reflect the couple’s interest in Japan, where they’ve enjoyed visiting, whether it’s the Noguchi lanterns to the wooden-slat detail on the ceiling in the main bedroom. “The Tylises have seen so much, and been so many places, and have so many memories,” Amoia says. “We wanted to incorporate a lot of the things they loved into the space.”
The homeowners-who are board members at Project Sunshine, a nonprofit that aids pediatric patients-got exactly what they imagined: “Sam is immensely talented and exceptionally creative, while at the same time open-minded. He was able to transform our rough ideas of the aesthetic that we like into reality.”
Meanwhile, Amoia, who also once worked for the hotelier André Balazs, is making a return to the world of hospitality with the design of his first hotel, The Aurum, in New York’s Catskills. The 36-room hotel, set to open later this year, is a collaboration with real estate star Steve Gold of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing.
You can never be a prophet in your own land