It’s a balancing act, to be sure – marrying a stately Palm Beach mansion with edgy postwar art and sculpture. In his new book, The New Formal (The Monacelli Press, 240 pages, $60), interior designer James Aman shows us how it’s done.
Throughout the lush pages, Aman’s niche emerges. The scale of the homes, whether in Palm Beach, Manhattan, or the Hamptons, tends to be grand, the perfect canvas for art that ranges from the provocative to the (ever so slightly) alarming. Everything revolves around the owners’ collections, while the furnishings and surroundings retain warmth and elegance.
Each chapter begins with a one-page essay about the design considerations, but beyond that, it’s a photo-rich storybook. Three Palm Beach residences feature prominently:
The Regency estate: Aman describes the home as “classic with an edge.” Spare but not stark, the décor is kept minimalist in order that each room can showcase one or two major pieces from the owners’ collection, which ranges from an imposing George I giltwood console to an explosive pink/coral/salmon/green wall hanging by Jorge Pardo.
The Breakers retreat: Low, streamlined furnishings maximize all the views in this space – the art and the ocean. At any point, the art arrangement includes about two dozen pieces, some of which are permanent fixtures and some that rotate at the owner’s desire. Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Frank Gehry, Willem de Kooning – it’s a who’s who.
Lake Worth adventure: This home is a little harder to pin down geographically. We presume it’s on Lake Worth, rather than in Lake Worth. The space is stately and serene; the art is electric and sexy. It’s at once a home and a gallery or, as the owner says, “a visual adventure as we move from room to room.” Aman designed the home as it was being built. “Our goal in virtually all cases was to tone things down,” he says, “to keep the color palette of the walls and furnishings quiet so the art could project in full glory.”