The Power of Art in Design

Art can truly make or break the design of a space.

When it comes to designing a room in the home, selecting the art is often one of the most personal choices you make whether you are working with an interior designer or doing it on your own. In a perfect world, you choose a piece of art for your space that you connect with and it just so happens to also perfectly fit the color scheme and design style of the room. But we know that’s not always the way it works. A good combination of meaningful pieces and pieces selected to compliment the design is what you should strive for.

We turned to some of our RNDD Members – Chicago’s top interior designers and local River North Chicago design showrooms – for some tips on selecting artwork for your home and how that art can enhance the interior design of a room.

Invest in Artwork

Sarah Montgomery of Sarah Montgomery Design is a big believer in investing in artwork if the client is open to it. It doesn’t have to be anything terribly expensive for fancy, just collecting pieces that truly resonate with you. As a designer, she is always willing to find a way to incorporate a piece you love into her designs. In this client’s living room, Sarah had a ton of wall space and an awkward window to work around. She chose to make a wallpapered focal point for a large framed print so it felt more layered and dynamic. Sarah then added to the clients collection of vintage Fornasetti plates for a plate display which creates texture and plays off the black and white of the wallpaper. Two original prints from the client’s travels add color and interest in the spot below the window. This is a great example of balancing different types of art in a space.

Photos by Gene Yoon

In this design project, Sarah was faced with the challenge of sourcing art that combined both of her client’s taste. The husband and wife for this project had differing tastes in art. The husband preferred more traditional, formal art while the wife likes to support outsider artists. Sarah came across this piece at an antique store, by Gerald Nees, an Indiana man who was paralyzed and painted with his mouth. This is a more traditional scenic painting by an outsider artist AND it happens to be of the Chicago river! It was a win-win for both parties.

Get more tips for filling your blank walls with art from Sarah Montgomery here.

Photo by Margaret Rajic

Use Art in Unexpected Places

Materials Marketing is now offering an amazing series from Adex of hand painted Salvador Dali tiles. The hand painted tiles clearly show the style, flavor and brilliant colors that Salvador brought to his artwork. With each tile serving as a piece of artwork, you could use these in unexpected places in your kitchen or bathroom. Learn more here.

Create Original Artwork that Tells Your Story

Artist Maureen Claffy paints love stories of joy and celebration. This painting titled “In the Flow”, is a mother’s love story for her family. Maureen prides herself on her collectors feeling safe enough to tell her their stories. She then spins, with fluid acrylic or watercolor on canvas or paper or birchwood board, a narrative that is personal and private to their heart.

For this piece, Maureen visited the client monthly, making sketches and listened to the client’s stories. Maureen also visited with the interior designer on the project regularly so they could collaborate closely on the size, color and placement of the piece. Together, the artist, designer and client took her work to a new place of sensitivity in color and technique. A painting that represents a story made stronger through listening. See more of Maureen’s work here.

Go Beyond the Walls: Furniture As Art

Hästens has teamed up with world renowned master designer Ferris Rafauli to launch an exclusive collaboration – Grand Vividus, which represents a new level of comfort, craftsmanship and luxury, drawing on expertise gained since 1852. Rafauli, known in the design world for his innovative projects and luxury home creation for elite clients around the world, took inspiration from Hästens’ heritage and long history as bed and saddle-makers to create the Grand Vividus. The result is a continental bed combining a timeless and classic design with Rafauli’s unique style.

The Grand Vividus exudes luxury, quality and design without compromise to become a work of art for the bedroom. Entirely built by hand by Hästens´ most esteemed craftsmen, in the manufacturing facility in Köping, Sweden. Chicago Luxury Beds is the original Midwest retailer of Hästens offering 15+ years of expertise in the brand. Learn more here.

Find Pieces that Speak to You

Art speaks to you. When you see something that whispers to your heart and touches your senses. When it brings you joy, a sense of nostalgia, or a sense of calm and wonder. Neuroaesthetics is powerful, real, and personal. In this elegant yet modern living room, Staci Munic of Staci Munic Interiors found a way to incorporate her client’s favorite piece from Steven Rudin with photographs of Tina Turner and make them feel like they belong together. And the images seem to actually pop off the stark white walls infusing a tangible energy into the room. As long as the pieces you select speak to you, you can find a way to make them work together and actually enhance the space. See more of Staci’s work here.

Photo by Lance Gerber

With Large Walls, Scale is Everything

When it comes to selecting the right piece of art for a room, size does matter. Whether it is a one-of-a-kind painting, unique installation, bold canvas art, or fine art photography, choosing wall art for large open spaces can be daunting. These pieces will often become an eye catching focal point, so they should be impactful. Scale is crucial when filling a large wall. The art should be just as grand! Purchasing such a large piece can be an investment and should be something you know you will love for years to come. Choosing the right style and color is extremely important in areas that are open to multiple lines of sight. It needs to work from all angles. Don’t be afraid to make a statement when you have a large canvas to work with. Centaur Interiors, with the help of Samuel Lynne Galleries, used just one piece of art in the room shown below. But because they got the scale right for the space, the art becomes the focal point of the room and truly takes the interior design to another level. See more spaces from Centaur Interiors here.

Mirrors As Art

Mirrors can be a great alternative to traditional artwork. And they are functional. They can make a space look and feel larger, and they reflect light. If you are thinking of adding a mirror to your space, try using one that has a more interesting shape. It will bring a new feel to your space.

The Vlad Hexagonal Mirror, from the Alexa Hampton Collection by Theodore Alexander, is like a 3-dimensional abstract piece of art. And like abstract art, this piece does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of visual reality, but rather uses geometric forms and lines to emphasize and reflect the view in a kaleidoscope of special effects, toying with shape and light to distort and dissect the view around us.  The Vlad Mirror can be hung horizontally or vertically and is available in a number of unique finish options. Learn more here.

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