KAI Interior Specialist Asha Perez Returns from Art Basel Miami with Expert Insight on Designing with Contemporary Art

KAI Design & Build Interior Specialist, art enthusiast and Miami Beach native Asha Perez has just returned from Art Basel Miami Beach with interviews and panel discussions from the leading experts on contemporary art and interior design. And she is making this valuable information available to you.

Art Basel stages one of the world's preeminent modern and contemporary art shows annually in three dynamic cities - Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach. With the Miami Beach show just completed (Dec. 1-6, 2016), those of you who were unable to travel south this year to catch the show are fortunate enough to have had Asha there to interview the experts.

Asha's first piece is a panel discussion from Art Talks: Designing a Home for Art Collectors featuring Robin Hodes, editor and designer with Florida Design magazine; Brian Westbrook of Westbrook Contemporary; and Alene Workman of Alene Workman Interior Design.

Asha Perez - Day 2 During Art Basel Miami Beach/Miami Art Week

Location: Spectrum/Red Dot Miami

Art Talks: Designing a Home For Art Collectors – Panel Discussion

Robin Hodes, Editor and Designer, Florida Design Magazine - floridadesign.com

Brian Westbrook, Westbrook Contemporary - westbrookmodern.com

Alene Workman, Alene Workman Interior Design - awidesign.com

A visit to Spectrum Miami, a juried, contemporary art show in the heart of Miami Arts & Entertainment district, hosted a panel discussion with industry experts focused on designing a home for art collectors. As an art enthusiast, I find that artwork can define an interior, developing an overall design inspired by art. As I sat and listened to the question/answer format from Robin Hodes to Brian Westbrook and Alene Workman, this concept was confirmed through discussion. There were also some important points and tips about interior design and art, which I have outlined here:

Question 1: How important is proper lighting when displaying art?

Interior Designer perspective:

You can have great furniture, great pieces, great accessories and great art but without lighting these pieces will fall flat. Lighting is critical in interior design. Once art is involved, lighting is even more critical. If it is a piece of art or sculpture, location and placement is also important, which can drive how you light a piece. If the interior has architectural details and the interior is dark, the design is not complete.

Gallery Owner perspective:

Brian Westbrook states that the wonderful thing about lighting whether its natural light, incandescent light or LEDs, is it can be resolved relatively easy because companies have been experimenting with lighting for decades. If a piece is not properly lit, it does not have the same effect that the artist intended. There are certain colors, certain textures that have to have raking light as opposed to straight on focus light. The lighting industry has listened to the art and architectural industries and has addressed issues with lighting early on.

Question 2: Should art be hung on white walls?

Interior Designer perspective:

A background that is fairly clean and neutral can help define your piece of art. Every piece of art has a different meaning. There is no rule book. Sometimes you can do a dark wall, have great light on a piece of art that may have some color in it that can pop on a dark wall. You have to judge the piece of art, the space that it is in and

what you are trying to achieve. There are hundreds of shades of white. White is an enormous range. It does not have to be stark white. That’s the beginning of an adventure. In addition, taking a swatch of fabric and trying to match a piece of art is the worst thing that you can ever do. Art should be in a space by itself.

Gallery Owner perspective:

It's all contextual. Museums and art galleries want “museum white” because you are trying to set off the art work. The context of an interior, small room, large room, high ceilings, lower ceilings... that whole context makes a difference. You can experiment with a color but it's usually what “speaks to you” and working with an intelligent designer is important.

“One of the smartest approaches that I have seen is to start with artwork, fixed elements and the things that are important to you and design from that,” says Westbrook.

Question 3: How do you figure out the right height in terms of where you place the art?

Interior Designer perspective:

You cannot place art according to eye-level because everyone is a different height. There are some rules with hanging art. You have to find a happy medium. Look at the client and work with them on how they want their piece to hang. Some clients like their art hung high and some like their pieces low. Find a happy medium. If there is furniture under the art piece, that also influences how and where the piece is hung.

Gallery Owner perspective:

There isn’t a formula. You have to have interaction for the viewer. How art is hung has to have soul. It's really what makes the painting come alive on that wall based on the viewer. Forget about the typicals and “formulas". Listen to your designer, go with your soul and do what really responds to your eye. It has to feel a certain way, it has to fit and be balanced. Holes in a wall can be patched. Experiment.

Question 4: Do you mix and match or does there need to be uniformity? Can you mix styles of frames, styles of art as you would mix different styles of furniture?

Interior Designer perspective:

Clients have mixed modern art with traditional furniture and vice versa. One of the things with art is that it is not dictated by the style of furniture. Certainly you’ll see old world art with old world furniture. I appreciate Grecco, one of the forerunners of impressionism. I went to the Frick Museum, it’s a very old world mansion that was

converted into a museum. Everything fades into each other and it all feels the same. A piece by Grecco stood out to me because it seemed to be out of place in this space. Art can be in many different environments and still look fabulous.

Gallery Owner perspective:

I had a married couple as clients. The wife was into Karel Appel, tapestries, and mid century furniture. The husband was more focused on American Federal. This was a blended relationship. They both wanted to live with the things that they loved. They created vignettes throughout the house that worked with both of their tastes.

Question 5: Can you have a statement piece of furniture and art in the same space?

Interior Designer perspective:

Yes, I’ve used three statement pieces in an entry way. A bright color (red), a lighting sculpture and a cabinet. It all depends on the client. Three divergent pieces of art were used and it all came together. Have fun.

Question 6: Do you encourage a client to collect from a certain artist, time period or genre? Or do you encourage them to have a blend?

Gallery Owner perspective:

Spending time with the client is important. Visiting their home, taking them to dinner, etc. Find out what their tastes are and what inspires them. It will give you an idea of how to direct them.