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Where Did Michael Cox Travel For Unique Inspiration?

Designer Michael Cox, of foley&cox, shares his inspirational insights.


Michael Cox

Michael Cox

Our “dream space” has history, culture, and architectural integrity. We love to take a space that has incredible bones and the patina of another era and re-invent, re-interpret, and update for comfortable and contemporary living.

Travel is our most constant source of inspiration. We’re drawing on a trip to Marrakesh and Tangier for our take on “Morocco in California” for the windows we’re designing for Legends. Our recent visit to Paris brought chic finishing touches to a Manhattan apartment. And our collaboration with the great Milanese house of Fornasetti is seeping into our renovation project in Florida.

The renovation of a ski chalet in Austria had a profound impact on the trajectory of the firm. Researching Tyrolian style, working through language barriers, and cultivating relationships with local artists and antique dealers from Vienna and Salzburg was challenging, rewarding, and inspiring.


A family room by foley&cox that includes the Up chair by Gaetano Pesce. Photo by Tim Lenz.

I want to visit the Ottoman Empire circa 1540—and as Suleiman the Magnificent of course. My visit to the Topkapi palace in Istanbul was like seeing Aladdin’s cave for the first time. Seeing fragments of the opulence of the Ottoman Empire’s golden age was incredible and learning of the creative, artistic, and architectural advances of the period was beyond inspiring. And to be painted by Titian—that’s about as significant as it gets.

This is as difficult as asking a parent to choose a favorite child! But what comes to mind are three projects across two generations for one family that took us from Manhattan to the Hamptons and eventually to the Bahamas. It is the development of deep, personal relationships that enrich our work and elevate each project into a home for a client. We’re most pleased that we are now incorporating the comfort of the third generation into all three homes.

The first thing we ask a client: Describe what “home” means to you. Is it privacy, respite, and retreat? Is it welcome, hospitality, and entertaining? We each carry deeply personal definitions of how we value home, and it is our job to interpret these clues to establish each individual’s sense of sanctuary.

Our old-school-with-a-new-twist approach merges sketching, drawing, researching, and gathering (photos, books, magazines) as a team. We gather a wide spectrum of influences and begin culling to find the story of the project and the soul of the home. The creative process is so fluid that it cannot be formulaic—it has to emerge uniquely each time.


A longtime client’s homes by foley&cox in the Bahamas (top – photo by Peter Margonelli) and the Hamptons (photo by Brantley Photo).

Two extremes to illustrate my personality: Gaetano Pesce’s Up for its joyful and exuberant embrace, and Jean Prouvé’s Cite for its sophisticated elegance. Like having a bulldog and a whippet.

The depth and complexity of the human mind. I’m a freshman student of meditation, and I’m fascinated to delve into the prefrontal cortex to gain better insight into concentration and awareness. Connectivity to self to gain more connection with each other.