The passion for drama was infectious: after getting married, Micky and Malu lived in Barcelona, where Micky studied acting. Back in Chile, he redirected his theatrical eye to furniture, opening an antiques store, Hurley and Company, in Santiago. The Hurleys became darlings of the South American press–appearing on the covers of Estilo de Vida y Decoracion, Chile’s answer to Elle Décor, and [Hola]–for their lifestyle and their own presentation: they are as good-looking a fixture as anything in their homes, far less antique and just as well-styled.
In Chile, their lavender-walled living room and Hermes-orange dining room (tucked behind a hidden bookcase door) were the settings for weekly dinners at which linguists and painters mingled with former Chilean presidents and stylish octogenarians. “The same way he decorates, he issues invitations to dinner,” says Malu, “a mix.” Parties lasted late into the night and were punctuated with such events as Micky locking the doors to the house so revelers couldn’t leave (everyone complained, then they started dancing), or a surprise midnight delivery of a shipping carton of purchases from Europe (the guests helped unpack the crates). Eventually he began to design furniture, like painted chairs in a Louis XIV style, upholstered in colored silks.
“All the time we knew that he was destined to do even more,” says Malu, “even though he had this fantastic clientele he loved in Chile, his peer group–his style–was that of a larger market. We always knew that New York was the new next step.” When Malu was accepted to Parsons to pursue a dream of being a graphic designer, they made the move.
Their second-floor postwar Upper East Side rental is admittedly less jewel box than shoebox. Micky built walls to enclose the open kitchen (“Why are Americans so focused on the kitchen?” he asks) and create a foyer where a late 17th-century Flemish tapestry hangs near hall chairs from the family castle in Ireland. The living room ceiling is bordered in grosgrain ribbon. Bergères clad in ikat and leopard prints are arranged in multiple conversation groups beneath portraits by Robert De Niro Sr. and Philip de László. And for all the fine fabrics and bijoux accessories, there’s one rather family-friendly aspect: a family actually lives here.
His first American project was his father-in-law’s Key Biscayne condo, featured on the cover of Coastal Living magazine. Defying the South Florida humidity, Bonnards and Dufys hang among beach-casual sofas, crisp and clean but “lived in,” Micky says. His rooms have soul. “I trust his taste completely, as well as his ability to honor and evoke my own style and personality,” said his friend and client Ariana Rockefeller.