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All you need...

All you need is Art

Creative Director of O&A Design, Co-founder of O&A London Anna Agapova tells how Art works in interior design and offers advice on artwork selection. 

Where to buy?

1. Flea Markets

Some time ago, prior to becoming an interior designer, while travelling the world, I always preferred to bring back vintage posters, photographs and other unusual items bought at flea markets as gifts for my friends and family. Knowing the taste and preferences of my friends it was never difficult for me to select something they would really like and that would seamlessly integrate into their interior. My favourite flea markets have always been those in Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, but my most favourite of all is the legendary  Saturday antique market on Portobello Road in London. I have to admit that many of my gifts have significantly increased in value!

Art is what completes your world. It is the finishing touch that brings the whole space to life and tells the story of its inhabitants. A generational bridge is achieved with art, sculpture, and other art objects.

I started with flea markets because it is the best way to find something unique and aesthetically valuable yet reasonably priced. Art need not always be expensive. The main thing is the emotional connection you feel with an item and how well it will work with your interior, harmonising the space. Always follow your heart!

2. Modern art exhibitions

As well as vintage markets I often visit exhibitions by young talented artists. In London it is The Other Art Fair held twice a year at the Old Truman Brewery which exhibits future stars of British design, and London Art Fair and Photo London exhibitions. At the latter one can see the works of the main photo galleries from all over the world with a great variety of genre, history and history of photography. As the Photo London fair is relatively young, here one can find promising and talented artists selling their work at reasonable prices.

3. Industrial Design Degree shows

These shows are full of exclusive, original, bold and rebellious items. When visiting these shows I am able to partly predict upcoming trends by guessing the future development paths of design. One can also purchase the works of potential future masters at low prices.

4. Art galleries and Fairs

For mature projects requiring statement art one should without doubt head for galleries and exhibitions such as Masterpiece, Art Basel, Design Miami and La Biennale Paris. You will need an Art guide for that.

Interior for art or art for the interior?

Usually the designer/art interaction follows three patters which are described below.

1. New project: Designer provides art advisory

When working on a new project I usually select art in the very beginning, inserting the artwork into the client’s visuals. We have an art department which is dedicated to liaising with galleries and individual art dealers and artists. In this way the client can perceive the future interior as a whole. Art in this case is part of the concept.

Together with the client we select artwork that can create the art framework of the space upon which we then build the colour scheme.  The main thing is to concentrate on the theme that is going to be dominant. If it is a bedroom the art can be more intimate, while reception room and hallway art can show your guests exactly what you would like them to see. Here art can be ironic, provocative and imaginative.

2. New project: A client has a collection

Sometimes our clients come to us with an existing collection or a single art work. Our job then is to either create the background for this art or to build the entire interior around the piece of art as the starting point. The colour in this case is paramount. For classic collectable paintings the colour should be neutral. For modern statement art the colour scheme of separate elements of décor must be carefully worked on.

3. Incorporating art into the existing interior

The most common case is when the interior is already created and the art is integrated into it. In this case we usually select some graphic or abstract art work together with the client which usually looks good regardless of the existing style. I must add that larger art works often look better while smaller pieces require more attention. In this case the designer must select the right frame. For example a contrast frame and a correctly chosen shade can turn a small art piece into the focal point of the interior.

Rules of art placement

1. Large paintings can look great simply leaning against the wall. The room should also be large in this case as this type of artwork tends to make the space look smaller.

2. The width of the canvas should be equal to at least half of the length of the object above which it is positioned.

3. Maintain the spacing between paintings or you risk turning your house into a museum.

4. Think outside the box. Sometimes even a door can be a great place for a painting.

5. Diptychs and triptych also look good positioned vertically or placed on the mantelpiece.

I would like to finish with a message from Gertrude Stein to Ernest Hemingway: “You can either buy clothes or buy pictures. No one who is not very rich can do both. Pay no attention to your clothes and no attention at all to the mode , and buy your clothes for comfort and durability and you will have the clothes money to buy pictures”.

Text: Anna Agapova

Photos: O&A Design studio projects

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