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Designer-to-the-stars Zang Toi on why your knick-knacks have got to go

By Sharon Krum  | August 5, 2016 - 1:59PM

Designer Zang Toi has dressed Sharon Stone, Eva Longoria and Saudi royals, and Melinda Gates once flew him to Seattle to design a dress for her. Not too shabby for a kid who grew up in a small village in Malaysia. 

Since opening his atelier in 1989, Toi has become known for collections that are equal parts craftsmanship, drama and glamour. Looking inside his home--a one-bedroom co-op in an Upper East Side 1901 townhouse where he's lived for over a decade--he's clearly taken his design sensibility out of the workroom into his life.

How would you describe your apartment’s design aesthetic?

French Louis XV style, done in black, white and platinum to look like a black-and-white photograph.

Toi in his living room (Courtesy Zang Toi, photo credit: Anastassios Mentis)

Did you design it, or is it the work of an interior designer?

I did everything myself. I travelled all around the world to source the furniture in my apartment,  and I have collected [pieces] over many years.

What are your key rules to creating a great room? Are they the same as your ideas about creating the perfect dress?

Definitely. Less is MORE. I’d rather have a few statement pieces rather than a room full of clutter and knick-knacks.

 You have an unlimited budget to decorate. What is your fantasy purchase?

A series of Progress of Love paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

"The Progress of Love: The Pursuit" by Jean-Honore Fragonard

Do your clients ask for decorating advice as well as fashion guidance?

Yes, constantly. My advice is to decorate with a few luxurious pieces that you love.

Any favorite restaurants in your neighborhood?

I frequent Café Boulud and Sant Ambroeus. I go to Via Quadronno for their panini.

Best store in New York for fashion?

Hermes. They are uber luxurious.

What do you love about living in New York City?

I came here 35 years ago and New York City has been my adopted home. It is like living the American dream!

A Zang Toi dress at New York Fashion Week, fall 2014 (Courtesy Zang Toi, photo credit: Anastassios Mentis)


Zang Toi, who has designed for Sharon Stone and Eva Longoria, has paintings of Marie Antoinette and an 1890 Baccarat chandelier in his living room. (Courtesy Zang Toi, photo credit: Anastassios Mentis)


Another view of Toi's living room (Courtesy Zang Toi, photo credit: Anastassios Mentis)


Paintings of Marie Antoinette in Zang Toi's living room (Courtesy Zang Toi, photo credit: Anastassios Mentis)


The bed was purchased in a New Orleans antique store. (Courtesy Zang Toi, photo credit: Anastassios Mentis)

***This story was originally posted on March 13, 2014.


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