Design — 03 November 2017
Home design to showcase an art collection

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub

City & Shore Magazine

What is the best way to live with your art? Does it deserve a niche, a solo display on a wall or a collage of several works? South Florida designers show us their ideas for displays – from show houses to clients’ homes.



The challenge: The clients had an art collection and were in the process of obtaining more pieces for their 4,500-square-foot condo in Aventura’s Porto Vita.

The solution: A complete renovation with a new layout and space planning to highlight the art in dramatic niches and creative displays.

“First we have to get an understanding of where the piece fits,” Brett Sugerman says. “Does it need to be a prominent piece? Where should it be located in terms of importance and proper viewing? Is it best to integrate it into the environment, hang it from the ceiling or hang it on a wall? We have to make sure the pieces complement the rest of the environment. If the piece is risqué, the clients may want to hang it in the bedroom.”

Visitors are greeted with Chul Hyun Ahn’s Forked, a dramatic light sculpture, as they enter the private elevator’s foyer. Sugerman says the piece, which has an infinity effect with colored dots and mirrors, represents a fork in the road presenting different choices. The challenge was to create an 8- by 4-foot structure that allowed the lights to be changed. Brackets – not hinges – make it appear to be part of the wall. Later the clients bought Marlene Rose’s Buddha Wall that is created with the same lights and mirrors. The designers positioned it on the back of the same wall.

Albert Paley’s yellow metal sculpture – weighing in at over 600 pounds – was another challenge. The designers had to make sure it was not too heavy for the building to support. They designed the space so it could be lifted and not crack the limestone ledge. It is displayed in a niche with accent lighting.

The artwork also has to be displayed in the proper frame. A Plexiglas frame was the solution for Chul Hyun Ahn’s 3D artwork with its multi-colored lighting.

Guests are fascinated with MARCK’s video sculpture of a woman that turns on when the bathroom door is opened.

“The clients told us the guests often stay in the bathroom for 20 minutes because they are so fascinated with it,” he says.




Joseph Cortes’ key decision is to find the right art to fit the right place.

“You might have the right subject matter and right colors but the problem is the size,” he says. “You must have a combination of the right content, color and size.”

A client often may have his or her own art but sometimes it’s up to the designer to find a place for it. Cortes says filling in with art is often the last decision and may come up when the budget is exhausted.

“We try to have some consistency throughout the house,” he says, but we don’t want it to look as if it was purchased all at once. The goal is an eclectic collection that looks like it was collected over time.”

A show house, such as the Red Cross Designer’s Showhouse, is an ideal place for designers to illustrate good display. One of the best examples is one that featured Robert Longo’s Serpent’s Tongue, a compelling 60-inch high by 40-inch wide piece that dominates a wall. Using a large piece of art like this has become a popular trend.

“A lot of condos and homes in South Florida have high ceilings,” he says. “One of the challenges is what to do to fill up a wall. Your choice becomes a design gesture and a way to express yourself.”

Another wall in the same room features a collage of different elements, including family photos. Varied frames are used to create a collected look.

In another show house, Cortes covered the wall with grass cloth, a trend from the late ’70s that has come back as a way to add texture to walls. He selected four pieces of art from the artist Clemente in the same colors to frame the window. The room is traditional but the contemporary art and rug gives it a more modern twist.




Linda Langsam was an art dealer before she became an interior designer so it was natural for her clients, who were also collectors, to hire her.

“They wanted the design to be contemporary, clean looking and neutral walls, furniture, rugs and flooring to show off all they collected,” she says. “It creates a wonderful space to display art and sculpture.”

Langsam gutted the interior to reconfigure the interiors. In the living room, she designed a fireplace with lighted niches to illuminate the clients’ glass art. The key piece is a vertical sculpture by Joan Irving that they purchased at the American Craft show in Baltimore. An elegant sculpture of a woman was purchased at the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s Juried Art Festival in Mizner Park.

The most interesting sculpture greets visitors as they enter the home. Artist George Snyder’s colorful tubes are finished in acrylic car paint.

“His use of color is incredible,” she says. “They can be hung in several ways, all vertical, all horizontal or staggered. I created my own way to hang them.”

Langsam owned an art gallery for many years before she went to school to study interior design at Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her parents were art collectors so she came by her love of art naturally.

“To me, a design project without artwork is empty,” she says. “You can create the most beautiful designs but without art work and accessories, it is cold.”



Brett Sugerman
and Giselle Loor
B&G Design,
410 NW First Ave.,
#301, Fort Lauderdale,

Joseph Cortes
Home Life Interiors,
6001 Georgia Ave.,
West Palm Beach,

Linda Langsam
Linda Langsam Interiors,
6931 Queenferry Circle,
Boca Raton, 561-483-6619, 

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