Michael Cox has always had great taste. He says that as a teenager, he was “drawn to a refined aesthetic,” which included a penchant for fashion photographer Bruce Weber’s work. Cox’s favorite images were the campaigns Weber shot for brands like Ralph Lauren—photography that went beyond product ads to evoke highly stylized environments with a distinct point of view.
After graduating from Pennsylvania’s Villanova University, Cox swiftly deviated from his practical finance major, nabbing a manager job at a Ralph Lauren Home store in Pennsylvania that eventually led him to Ralph Lauren’s New York flagship. Within 10 years, he’d been chosen to launch the company’s new interiors division alongside colleague Mary Foley, VP of creative services. “That was the beginning of how I got pulled into the world of interior design,” he tells host Kaitlin Petersen on the latest episode of Trade Tales. “I look back and refer to it now as getting a postgraduate degree at Polo University.”
Cox and Foley instantly discovered they had a winning partnership on their hands, but within a few years, Ralph Lauren announced a shift toward hospitality. That moment provided the push he and Foley needed: In 2002, they left Ralph Lauren and officially launched their interior design firm, Foley&Cox.
In the years that followed, the pair weathered every high and low the industry had in store—including a recession, periods of rapid growth and multiple generations of clients—and continually refined their processes along the way. In this episode of the podcast, Cox reflects on Foley&Cox’s 20-year history, sharing why the firm is currently auditing its operations, the importance of ‘The Honesty Policy’ in client relations, and why he’s passionate about supporting fostering the next generation of designers.
Homepage image: Michael Cox | Courtesy of Foley&Cox