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Publication Date: 2013-04-22


BAMO: Luxuriously Individualized

San Francisco interiors firm BAMO knows luxury is all about singularity.

The studio has built its reputation on designing luxurious residences with highly individualized style. BAMO’s success stems from its dedication to a vision of polished, impeccable work while allowing the personality of each of its leading designers to shine through. We spoke with Co-founder Pamela Babey, Co-founder Michael Booth and Principal Steve Henry about how they bring their signature styles to each project.

Michael Booth has the heart of a classicist, evident in the elegant restraint and clean lines of his work. Booth grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and cherishes the architecture of his childhood and formative years. “I was so inspired by the history and the buildings,” says Booth, who went on to study fine arts and architecture at Rhode Island School of Design.”Ignoring the architecture of a home is a big mistake some designers make,” he notes. The symbiotic relationship between furnishing and engineering a space is critical, and the flow of a Booth room reminds one of what design can achieve if that relationship is valued. Booth’s recent projects include a home on the fabled Pebble Beach Golf Course, a LEED Platinum residence, and a San Francisco penthouse for art collector Byron Meyer, who commissioned him to design a gallery-like residence. “Modern architecture demands impeccable detailing,” says the designer, who swathed the space in a bright white and specified cerused oak throughout the home to give it cohesion. Booth brought livable luxury to the space with furnishings like Zaha Hadid’s sculptural Moraine sofa and a pair of classic Michael Taylor club chairs reupholstered in silk velvet and Belgian linen.

In keeping with this architecture-driven philosophy, BAMO Principal Steve Henry likes to imagine a space from the outside in, starting with the walls and the floors to create a strong background for the furniture. Henry works by skillfully mixing different aesthetics to create “bounce” (a perfect choice of words for a designer with vibrant southern charm). He’s drawn to an eclectic mix of furniture and seductive lighting, which make for cosmopolitan interiors. “I love classic pieces with a twist,” he says. Henry’s style is evident in a San Francisco salon he recently designed with Michael Booth that could easily be transported to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. French and Italian antiques are paired with iconic pieces by Billy Baldwin and Warren Platner, while modern art lends a touch of the avant-garde to the rich and sensual environment. Henry’s recent projects include residences in Newport, Rhode Island and Manhattan.

Firm Co-founder Pamela Babey shares Henry’s appreciation for antiques, but has a very different aesthetic. The award-winning designer’s approach marries color and pattern in unexpected ways; her own home is a beautifully appointed treasure-chest of carefully curated objects collected on her worldwide travels. “I’m the kind of designer who appreciates a chandelier with a broken arm or a mirror with a big scratch,” she says, calling these little imperfections “romance marks.” Babey’s love of antiques and design was passed down from her parents–avid collectors themselves–and she is widely respected in the design industry for her connoisseurship. Inspired by the beauty of handcrafted products, Babey favors collaborations with artisans when sourcing fabric and furniture and notes Italian textile house Fortuny as a go-to source. “Fortuny can be both masculine and feminine and is casually sophisticated,” she says. Babey’s recent projects range from a Hong Kong residence to one of the world’s largest private yachts.

In addition to their extensive residential portfolio, BAMO has designed celebrated hospitality projects worldwide. Private clients have sought them out after a stay at the Grand Hotel A Villa Feltrinelli in Italy or the Four Seasons Bora Bora. “I’m so lucky to do what I do,” says Booth humbly, as BAMO enters its 23rd year. Though each has a decidedly distinctive vision, BAMO’s Principals share a passion for perfection that is abundantly visible in their projects.

- Written by Danny Kaplan


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