BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Interior designer Anthony Michael makes sure that his “wow factor” also translates to the high seas. Whether it’s high-end luxury residences, boutique hospitality, or yachts, the 35-year veteran of interior design in Chicago lives out his motto: “Fortune favors the bold.”
His own yacht, H.R.H. Lola, serves as a calling card for his design practice—and for some of the some of the most elegant entertaining on Lake Michigan.
Educated in Paris, Anthony has had a lifelong interest in design. His yearly trips to Italy heighten his awareness of international style. He frequently contributes to publications addressing real estate, design trends, trend forecasting, and the luxury market. Featured on several industry podcasts, he recently published an article on interior design for the millennial client.
We asked Anthony to tell us all about his work, designing yachts, and, of course, all about the Lola.
How do you select the yachts you design?
Over the years I have bought and restored numerous yachts. I prefer to find a good older boat that has great bones and can easily be refitted to make it fresh and current, while avoiding nautical clichés.
I like to take an existing older boat and make it the chicest boat on the water.
Tell us about our yachting clientele.
Our clients are typically from Chicago or Michigan and either have an existing older boat or appreciate a fine older yacht with all of its character and charm.
While you could conceivably take these yachts to seawater, ours are mostly kept on the Great Lakes in warmer weather and housed over the winter months. For example, the Lola is a fresh water yacht, sailing the Great Lakes only.
Tell us about nautical entertaining.
Nautical entertaining is the best! We have hosted everything from a cocktail party for 40 to small and elegant catered dinners on the water. Fireworks and the skyline are especially fantastic when viewed from the flybridge or bow of the yacht—such a marvelous perspective.
If you have never spent a night on a boat, you are missing out. There is something so soothing about sleeping on the water.
What words would you use to define your work?
I am certainly versed in numerous styles from Art Deco to period French, but my hallmark is a sleek, chic, clean look with a consistent use of high-end surface treatments that deliver the ‘wow factor’—something that works well on yachts.
What special considerations must you have when designing a yacht’s interior?
When designing a yacht, functionality of materials, safety, and ability all come into play. Things need to be compact and affixed.
Where do people spend most of their time on the Lola?
If weather is optimal, the bow, the flybridge, or the aft dining area; and, as is typical on land, they still congregate in the galley.
Do you offer advice to your clients about seasickness? The Great Lakes can be rough at times.
The worst thing you can do is go below deck. Fix your eyes on the horizon line and go to the flybridge, weather permitting.
Anthony also shared with us how his ideas translated from sea to land, focusing on trends and advice he has for potential clients (or simply fellow design enthusiasts!).
What words of wisdom would you share to those who feel they are not ready to hire an interior designer?
Don’t be afraid to take design risks. Figure out what is working in your lifestyle and just get started. Try a new paint color. Life is too short for you to live in an environment that does not match your personality!
Share some of your thoughts on colors and textures.
Always have a variety of pattern, textures, and play with scale. We love an unexpected mix of faux fur, animal print, and the cohesion of ground color to unify the space.
We are known for our use of unique and custom surface treatments like eglomise (the application of a design and gilding to a rear face of glass), inset leather panels, hand rubbed hi-gloss finishes, metallic leaf, and hand-painted faux finishes.
What are some recent trends?
We do a lot of built-in seating areas with storage. We like to do ‘wet rooms’ where the shower, bath, and everything is combined. Indoor/outdoor spaces that bleed into each other, having multiple functions, are being seen more and more.
How do you begin your dialogue with your clients?
We interview them as much as they interview us. We want to make sure that our aesthetics are similar and that we can guide them through the process of working with a design professional, while getting them to break out of their comfort zone. We always discuss their lifestyle, their needs, and their dream interiors, and then we take it a few steps further.
We love working, as well, on second and vacation homes. Many of our clients are financially able to afford homes elsewhere, and we are always happy to travel.
Over the years, we have formed a trusting relationship with our clients, so it makes perfect sense to bring your family designer to look at potential property or vacation homes to see if it can be modified to our client’s tastes.
We have often times taken the ugly ducking of the block and turned it into the perfect home!