Today I’m delivering a double dose of fabulous…two interviewees! Mary Foley and Michael Cox of New York-based interior design firm foley&cox agreed to give me the inside scoop about their approach to interior design, trends they’ve noticed, and, of course, what fabulous means to them!
In their decade as a dynamite duo, Mary and Michael and their team have taken on projects in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Monaco, the Bahamas, and more, and have gained a reputation for their distinctive yet accessible approach to design. It is this reputation that has landed them in such major publications as Architectural Digest, Town & Country, New York Home, Hamptons Cottages and Gardens, Shelter Interiors, and AD Germany.
Mary and Michael’s relationship started at Polo/Ralph Lauren, where Mary was Vice President of Creative Services and Michael worked in various home divisions, eventually becoming Design Director of Furniture. After ten years, the two were brought together to form Ralph Lauren Interiors. Soon after, foley&cox was born.
Robin Baron: Tell us about what you do.
Michael Cox: We’re a combination of dream interpreter and practicality practitioner. Listening to our clients has been one of the most important keys to the many successful collaborations we’ve achieved during the last 10 years. From the very first meeting, we begin to develop an understanding of the client’s desires, dreams, and goals. Our ultimate task is to develop a home that reflects the taste, aesthetic, and sensibility of each individual client. We often joke that our best reward is a few tears of joy when we present the finished space – and we’re happy to say we’ve had several.
RB: What have been some of your favorite projects so far?
MC: We worked with LDA architects in Boston to renovate and expand a summer retreat in Hyannis Port that had been in the family for two generations. The clients already had a lifetime of happy memories in the home and therefore approached the project with a bit of trepidation. By carefully incorporating but subtly updating all the aspects of what had made the house “work” in such a well-loved way over the years, we were able to maintain the spirit, character, and tradition of the home. The client reported that when a seasonal neighbor asked “So you decided not to expand?” it was one of the greatest compliments she could have received.
RB: What do you love most about what you do?
Mary Foley: Concept development. This is the initial phase of the design development process where we have the most creative freedom to pull inspiration – images, color palettes, fabrics, materials, furniture shapes, etc. The presentation boards we develop to define the aesthetic direction of the project are layered, multi-dimensional representations of the vision we see for the finished interior.
MC: Shopping! I’m constantly looking for new shapes, interesting details, and emerging artists and artisans to bring fresh perspective to our established repertoire. I especially love finding old pieces that can be “re-invented” with a new lacquer color, a change of hardware, re-upholstery, or some other twist that breathes new life into an overlooked antique. I think of it as the ultimate “green” effort.
RB: How would you describe your own home décor?
MC: In process/ever-evolving. In April I bought a 207-year-old farmhouse in Bucks County that is serving as my new laboratory for the development of an eclectic, casual and friendly country look that will say “Welcome to a fun weekend” to friends and family.
MF: Simplicity. A single shade of BM Super White throughout my Southampton home creates just the clean canvas that I crave to escape the occupational hazard of the color creation we develop during the week. It also allows a clean backdrop for an ever-changing collection of friend’s paintings, drawings, and photographs.
RB: What is the one thing in your home that everyone comments on?
MF: An over-scaled schoolhouse window that is now a mirror hanging over my living room mantel. Its bold scale always inspires visitors to re-consider how they can have fun putting disparate elements together in unexpected ways to achieve a little “wow” factor.
MC: The first painting I ever bought more than 20 years ago for a whopping $750! It’s just a serene, pastel portrait of relaxed boy, sitting in an armchair, reading a book but it evokes such a warm response from everyone who sees it that there is clearly some magic within the piece.
RB: What’s a favorite trend you’re noticing in home décor lately?
MF: More! Pattern, color, personal collections…ultimately, personality with a capital “P.” The monochromatic fashions of Jil Sander and Calvin Klein seemed to influence the interiors of the early part of this new millennium, but now we’re seeing a shift toward stronger, bolder, more personal affirmations of individual style and character. All of us are being influenced by eclectic patterns we fall in love with during travels – like kuba cloths in Africa, suzanis in Istanbul, and bright awning stripes in St. Tropez. More and more, clients seem to appreciate home more as an expression of themselves than a symbol of their success.
RB: What does fabulous mean to you?
MC: Fabulous is La Fontelina. This beach club on Capri has been my go-to spot for escape, relaxation, and re-invigoration for the last 15 years. Fabulous is about finding the place that brings you both a sense of calm and a wave of motivation.
RB: Anything else you’d like to mention?
MF: We’re both so excited to be hosting an exhibition of the paintings of Victor Mirabelli and the photography of Michael Anderson at foley&cox HOME in Hudson, NY on Saturday, June 23rd. We hope to see you there but if you can’t make it, please see the beautiful work of the two artists on-line at www.foleyandcoxhome.com