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Holiday Soiree by Design – Palm Beach Illustrated

Michael Aram. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz
Michael Aram. Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz

Michael Aram loves creating objects that enrich people’s lives. Trained as an artist, painter, sculptor, and art historian, Aram crafts handmade sculptures of the decorative arts. From tableware, home decor, and furniture to gifts, games, and jewelry, the artist is mesmerized by design.

The elegant table setting
The elegant table setting.

“As a child, I needed to understand the world, the cycle of life,” says Aram, who was born in Providence, Rhode Island, but grew up in Scarsdale, New York. “I did it through the creation of objects, like a doll house for my sister, and by spending hours in my family garden focusing on flowers and plants. Nature and the handmade process remain my major sources of inspiration.”

Since Aram’s father was an executive with Saks Fifth Avenue, Georg Jensen silverware, and Barney’s New York, he also remembers the sheer joy of visiting stores with him. Today, his own Michael Aram branded household objects are carried by more than 1,000 stores in 60 countries worldwide, as well as locally at The Breakers, Mary Mahoney, Hive, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale’s. In addition, he has flagship retail stores in Bal Harbour, Beverly Hills, and New York City, with a fourth scheduled to open soon at the Topanga Mall in California.

Coffee service featuring pieces from Aram’s Palace Collection, among others
Coffee service featuring pieces from Aram’s Palace Collection, among others.

His collections illustrate the passion, parable, and poetry of the handmade process. For example, some of his metal serving pieces feature motifs inspired by his Armenian culture, including pomegranates, olive branches, and tree of life imagery. His Judaica Collection, inspired by nature, boasts objects like menorahs and mezuzahs. The pieces are filled with humanity, and he believes that they carry power. 

Michael Aram and Aret Tikiryan
Michael Aram and Aret Tikiryan.

“I love enriching people’s lives with meaning, especially the big moments around a table where important interactions take place with smiles,” he says. “I learned this through my parents. I watched as vases, bowls, dinner plates, cutlery, etc. were passed down through generations. I am blessed to be able to supply other people’s homes.”

Aram’s college education and magical moments during his 20s further influenced his career. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art history and fine art from Bates College in Maine and spending his junior year in Italy studying at the University of Florence, where he was immersed in art history and studio art, he landed his first job designing books and posters for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. In 1988, he spent a month in India, where he discovered a world of craft that seemed as natural as Mother Earth. 

Caviar cannoli on the New Leaves Sago Palm Bread Plate
Caviar cannoli on the New Leaves Sago Palm Bread Plate.

“I had an aha moment, a mind-blowing experience where I saw craftspeople creating things,” he recalls of his time in the old city of Delhi, where he listened to the sound of metal being beaten as artisans made buckets, shovels, and scissors. “I stepped back into an Aladdin’s cave of craft where people had humble attitudes. I saw objects being extraordinarily made. I felt they were unappreciated.”

Although this trip was not meant to be a career opportunity for Aram (who was then 25 and sporting a ponytail), he learned the process of metalworking by observing craftsmen he encountered and was blessed that those he met were receptive to him and helped him create his first objects. These included shoehorns inspired by Alexander Calder, an artist whom Aram had long respected for his large-scale sculptures and fine-art pieces, as well as his comfort making home objects, children’s toys, and jewelry; candlesticks and cutlery, with shapes reminiscent of the twigs and branches he collected on his morning walks; and steel bowls evocative of the large cooking vessels he saw craftsmen make for Indian weddings. By 1989, he had opened his workshop in New Delhi, India. He still employs nearly 300 people and more than 200 artisans there and returns at least four times a year.

In 2007, Aram met his future husband, Aret Tikiryan, in New York. Coincidentally, both Armenian men were born in the same Providence, Rhode Island, hospital 10 years apart. (Later, Aram’s aunt became Tikiryan’s Sunday school teacher.) Tikiryan worked as a pediatric occupational therapist before joining the Michael Aram company in 2018 and now serves as executive vice president. 

The men, who were married in 2014, are fathers to twins Anabel and Thadeus, and share a dog named Rex. In 2020, the couple bought a two-story, Mediterranean-style home on Palm Beach that was built in 1921. They live here full-time and love to entertain, much in the same way that their families did when they were children. 

French onion soup grilled cheeses and mushroom consommé shots on the Mushroom Cheeseboard
French onion soup grilled cheeses and mushroom consommé shots on the Mushroom Cheeseboard.

“My mom is an amazing cook,” Tikiryan says. “She and her friends volunteered at our church to do all the cooking and baking, then she would have her friends over for elaborate dinners. It was about abundance [and] she would send guests home with leftovers. We do the same.”

Aram with daughter Anabel
Aram with daughter Anabel.

“I learned about formal entertaining from [my parents],” Aram adds. “We all feel a passion for what goes on the table, the design, the food, the happiness of the guests. But I prefer a less formal approach and am delighted with ‘open door, open heart.’”

The men divide hosting duties, with Aram setting the table and selecting the florals, and Tikiryan often handling the cooking. “We orchestrate our gatherings so everyone’s needs are met and at least one of us is sitting and engaging,” Tikiryan says.

For a recent nondenominational holiday party in their home, Aram greeted guests with a choice of several drinks served in his Rock Glass Collection: a signature Snow on the Beach martini (vodka, agave, cream of coconut, lime, and a coconut flake rim); Champagne Hervieux-Dumez Brut Nature, Premier Cru, Sacy, Champagne, NV; or a classic old-fashioned.

Jewels of the Ocean raw bar presentation
Jewels of the Ocean raw bar presentation.

They were then escorted to the bar/dinette area, which is dominated by a persimmon-colored bar with a Rosa Norvegia marble top designed by Aram with Tikiryan. “I wanted the bar to have a 1920s look because I love historic preservation,” says Aram, who incorporated fluted edges and round corners that speak to the aesthetic of the house. 

Guests enjoyed a variety of appetizers from Creative Edge Parties, including kale Caesar salad bites, American Osetra caviar cannoli, and French onion soup grilled cheeses with mushroom consommé shots. There were also individual Jewels of the Ocean raw bars, presented in Aram’s Ocean Reef Oyster Jewel Nut Dish and consisting of Jonah crab claws with Dijonnaise sauce, jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, and Blue Point oysters with mignonette sauce. 

Rack of lamb on Aram’s Goldsmith Dinnerware Dinner Plate
Rack of lamb on Aram’s Goldsmith Dinnerware Dinner Plate.

Conversation centered around work, travel plans for the holidays, guests’ love of Palm Beach, and their admiration for Aram and Tikiryan.

“They always put together different kinds of people with interesting backgrounds, a mix and match, which is all about the right energy,” says longtime friend René Fris, a celebrity hair stylist and former Bravo reality star. “I love coming from New York to Palm Beach for their parties because I get to sleep with Rex, their dog—my soulmate!”

The Nest dessert in the Lovebirds Trinket Dish
The Nest dessert in the Lovebirds Trinket Dish.

Aram set the dining table near the swimming pool and fountain to reflect the holiday season Palm Beach style, the evening’s theme. The centerpiece included Aram’s gold Palm Candleholders in varying heights interspersed with pink, ocher, and white florals by Renny & Reed (café au lait dahlias, Japanese anemones, and toffee spray roses among them) displayed in Aram’s Single Orchid Bowls made of hand-textured stainless steel, natural brass, and white enamel. 

Roasted Fairy Tale Eggplant starter on Aram’s Silversmith Dinnerware Salad Plate
Roasted Fairy Tale Eggplant starter on Aram’s Silversmith Dinnerware Salad Plate.

Aram’s individual place settings featured designs from his Goldsmith gold-rimmed porcelain dinnerware line over his Ivy & Oak silver chargers, with Molten gold flatware and more Rock Collection glassware inspired by jagged-edged stone formations, rock and roll glamour, cubist forms, and Art Deco.

The place mats and napkins were created by the couple’s close friend, textiles designer Kim Seybert, another party guest from New York who has a Palm Beach home. “We spend holidays together, and I love their kids,” says Seybert. “Michael is an incredibly good man. He and Aret are great hosts and relaxed, special people.”

The guests were ushered to the table for a meal that Jeff Fowler, executive creative director of Creative Edge Parties, describes as an “Armenian-inspired holiday dinner in the caterer’s fun style.” 

Passion fruit sorbet
Passion fruit sorbet.

The first course was Roasted Fairy Tale Eggplant, comprising roasted eggplant with a tahini sumac spread, pomegranate gems, and a za’atar sfoglie pastry dome with edible baby blossoms. Master sommelier Virginia Philip paired the dish with the Valados de Melgaço Alvarinho Reserva, Monção e Malgaço, Portugal, 2020. After a passion fruit sorbet “caviar” palate cleanser (in the Lovebirds Nut Bowl), the main course was served: herb- and Dijon-crusted rack of lamb with an apple brandy demi-glace, candied brussels sprouts, and a butternut squash, leek, and Gruyère soufflé. Philip paired this course with a Magnum bottle of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California, 2018. 

Elizabeth Rankin Geitz, Kim Seybert, Jill Falcigno, and Aram
Elizabeth Rankin Geitz, Kim Seybert, Jill Falcigno, and Aram.

Dessert was The Nest, a white chocolate mousse with mango and a macadamia crunch robin’s egg. It was presented on Aram’s brass, marble, and white enamel Lovebirds Trinket Dish and paired with the Snow Ridge Gewürztraminer Icewine 2020 from Canada’s Niagara Peninsula. “I like to use wine from different countries, and Canada is great for desserts,” Philip notes. 

After dinner, guests sipped Tikiryan’s Armenian coffee, served in pieces from Aram’s elegant Palace Collection. As they prepared to depart, each was gifted with custom chocolates presented in a Michael Aram Heart Dish wrapped in cellophane with gold and silver ribbons. In addition, females received a hand-selected piece of jewelry from Aram’s new fashion jewelry line, Anabel Aram, named after his daughter, while males got a small, forged shoehorn, the first piece that Aram created years ago in India. 

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