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.
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.
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.”
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.”