Fine Art in Interiors

I attended an interesting lecture today given by Susan Lanoue of Lanoue Fine Art and Dennis Duffy of Duffy Design Group on the use of fine art in interiors. The luncheon/lecture was for interior designers and how we can best work with our clients.

I’ve previously blogged about Lanoue Fine Art. It was so nice to meet owner Susan in person and hear her thoughts on the selection process.

Here are some of Susan’s tips for designers and also if you are looking for your own home:

• Don’t match the art to the drapes. This is a pretty standard truism. Art is something that is “of its own” and is not an “accessory” to the space.
• Who is the piece for? Is this a family space? Will there be sensitivities to certain subjects like nudity?
• Buy what you love, but…
• No two people will experience a work of art in the same way because we all “see” the art through the lens of our personal experience. So, don’t expect that everyone has to love a piece – because it may not happen. But, if one of you really loves it and the other can tolerate it – then it’s something to consider.
• What are you trying to do with the space? Do you want the art to bring peace and tranquility or do you want it to add that final exclamation point that’s always exciting and surprising?
• Consider your budget. The subject of budgets is always a tricky one when working with clients. And when the subject is fine art – the whole thing can get even trickier. How do we know what a piece or an artists is worth? If we know the budget – then we know the type of artist we should be considering. Generally, there are four levels of artists: Emerging (valued in the hundreds of dollars); Mid-Career (valued in the thousands of dollars); Established – maybe 20-30 years – (many, many thousands of dollars) and Museum or Blue Chip (priceless) Sounds like a Mastercard commercial. well, some big bucks at any rate. I would also add that as with many other aspects of interior design, if there is something you want – a piece by a particular artist for instance – it’s worth taking the time to save your money for it. Don’t settle just to fill a space. The best design, and collections, really should have a certain organic quality to them and it’s okay to take the time needed to have the best. Patience is key!
• A final comment from Susan was to remind the designers in the room that we don’t have to be experts in art in order to help our clients. Galleries and art consultants are available to help us select the perfect pieces for our client’s needs.

One service that Susan offers which is really wonderful is that she Photoshops images of the art into a photograph of the space so that clients can see what it might look like. Here are a couple of examples:

I’ve done this with window treatments but it hadn’t occurred to me that the same thing could be done with art! Smart!

Dennis Duffy – a very successful Boston interior designer and owner of the new DScale Modern in the South End – shared that early in his career he thought he should leave the buying of art and accessories (that last 10% of the project) to his clients – so that they could really put their personal stamp on their homes. And, this certainly seems to make sense. But, as we all know – whether it’s that last ten pounds or the finishing touches on an interior space – it often never happens. Or, worse, clients muck it up with pieces that are completely the wrong size or quality for the space. It’s a delicate balance – because as I said above – one shouldn’t rush these things just to get them done. The best scenario is to have an established long term relationship between designer and client.

Dennis and Susan spoke about the importance of the right lighting to showcase the art. Let’s face it – the best piece of art in the world is nothing if it’s in the dark (the cave drawing of Lescaut notwithtanding). So, give some thought to the art during the building stage when lighting is being installed. If not, additional expense will be required to retro-fit the right lighting into existing fixtures.

Dennis shared photos of some of his projects. The image below was especially eye-catching. This living room in Florida is triple height – about 25 feet! Even he said he had no idea at first what he was going to do to make the space feel more human scale. He commissioned the two pieces of a man and woman looking down on the living room. While not for everyone – it’s whimsy does certainly make the space much less serious and overwhelming.

Dennis’ website shows many interior shots that include spectacular works of art.

Anyway, it was a very interesting lecture and I hope you think so as well! Thanks to Arclinea for the invitation and for hosting another great design event!

xoxo Linda

2 thoughts on “Fine Art in Interiors”

  1. I had no idea people matched art to drapes. I always have art on the walls and the curtains come later (sometimes not at all) and I only buy what I love – though I may hang it in a different space than originally intended.
    Thanks for a really thought-provoking post.

  2. Hi Modernemama – I think some people are nervous about making a mistake with art – so from that place, they feel that if it matches, it will go better. Who knows.

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