When he’s ready to entertain, Michael Amato hides his projects in the mid-century Scottish cabinet from Old Cinema Chiswick and turns his work surface into a dining area.

Franz Galo for Fair Art Fair

Electric Blue Reigns In This Dynamically Cosmopolitan London Apartment

The Urban Electric Co. creative director Michael Amato channels Syrie Maugham and Noel Coward for a multifunctional live-work space.

August 11, 2022

Michael Amato has always been a “massive fan” of blue. Not just any blue—the vivid ultramarine brightening every room of his London home has captivated artists for centuries. Renaissance painters laboriously ground lapis lazuli for a pigment so precious they reserved it for the Madonna’s robes. In the 1950s, the French artist Yves Klein found a way to retain the hue’s intensity by mixing it with synthetic resin, and named his invention International Klein Blue (IKB). Last year, Amato introduced his own version, Icon Blue, as part of a signature color palette for the luxury lighting brand The Urban Electric Co., where he’s been creative director for nearly two decades.

To anchor that large wall, Amato created a “Saddle” table inspired by Jean-Michele Frank to evoke a fireplace. He designed the Kensington globe fixture for Urban Electric Co. in 2013, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.


The hue was central to Amato’s decorating vision when, in 2018, he achieved his lifelong dream of moving to London. “I wanted to create a Syrie Maugham fantasy of what a London flat could be,” he says, “but, as a renter, I didn’t want to go crazy with paint and wallpaper.” He also wanted multifunctional rooms that could easily convert from light-filled live-work design studio to gallery-like entertaining space, while accommodating additions to his ever-expanding collections of arts, books, and antiques. “I had in mind something like a Noel Coward stage set that evolves depending on the time of day or year,” he explains.

  • The walls in the main space/reception room, and throughout the flat, are painted Dulux’s Cameo Silk. The shades for the Urban Electric Co. Jax sconces are covered in Schumacher’s Zimba wallpaper.

  • Small neutral details, like the plaster lamp from Henry Saywell on a side table, and an antique African stool from Tribal Gathering London, add another layer of interest to the space.

    Courtesy of the Urban Electric Co.

In Notting Hill, he found a three-bedroom apartment in a building that dates back to 1824, with a dramatic split-level layout that provides the volume and height he craved. For a simple, flexible backdrop, he decided on a neutral palette of whites, grays, and black, punctuated with great bursts of blue and small touches of yellow in moveable items like artworks and upholstery. Then he went shopping. “All I brought with me from America was artworks, books, and some dishes. For the rest, I did what I love to do, which is wander through the city, talking to gallerists and antiques dealers, and slowly finding the right pieces for the right spots.”

  • In the kitchen, a corner wall is covered in De Gournay “Coco Coromandel.”

    Courtesy of the Urban Electric Co.
  • The De Gournay wallcovering from the kitchen reappears here in the library loft/dressing room on a custom screen. The carpet is the existing “basic rental beige.”

    Courtesy of the Urban Electric Co.

The big windows ensure the natural light he loves is constantly evolving—so much so that, to his surprise, he finds himself not moving things around as he’d expected, as if the ever-moving light is change enough. “I thought I’d keep changing things up, but that hasn’t happened. I’m really settled into the blue.”

  • Ultramarine blue pops up in the back guest bedroom in a ceramic penholder on the windowsill.

    Courtesy of the Urban Electric Co.
  • In the bathroom (one of two), Amato adapted to the existing fittings by layering in his own Bexley lighting fixture for Urban Electric Co. and personal effects, such as a Gio Ponti chair and D. Porthaut towels and bathmat.

    Courtesy of the Urban Electric Co.