By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Art is the ultimate accessory in any room. It can be the focal point that draws your eye. It can establish a color scheme. It can provide insight into the owners’ inner being.
South Florida designers often work with their clients’ collections or they cultivate their own group of favorite artists to custom design pieces of art to work with their designs. One of the major sources of inspiration is Art Basel, a showcase of contemporary and modern art from international artists that attracts more than 50,000 visitors. This year’s event is Dec. 5-8 in Miami Beach.
We asked four designers to show us how art can finish a room.
Designer: Frances Herrera
Photographer: Barry Grossman
Back story: The clients, originally from Lake Tahoe, Calif., requested a space that was both elegant and tailored in their home in Victoria Park in Fort Lauderdale. They wanted a neutral background with colorful art and accessories. Art was selected based on the clients’ preferences. Artist Melanie Rolfe created the dining room painting on custom order; the sea fans were painted by artist Karyn Robertson. Both paintings in the living room are by unknown artists from Left Bank Art. The large abstract is entitled Blue Lagoon, the smaller one Snap.
Philosophy for using art: “I strongly believe that every single room needs to have a statement artwork – whether it is something picked up in travels, inherited or something that gives the room emotion and passion,” she says. “I feel art should be very large in scale and have a strong presence in a space. Dramatic pieces that capture their personality are what make a home. It doesn’t always have to be an expensive piece of art.”
Influence of Art Basel: Herrera loves going to Art Basel because she gets inspired by different mediums and is able to speak with artists and gallery owners to find out their philosophy. This experience helps her explain to clients why the art should be used.
Best advice: “Look for pieces you love and invest wisely,” she says. “Engage an art consultant or reputable gallery so they can educate you on what is available. If the client is not interested in investment, the art should evoke a feeling or a lifestyle.”
Designer: Steven Zelman
Photographer: Barry Grossman
Back story: Zelman selected a large painting of a woman by Balinese artist Ngurah Gede for the dining room in Sunny Isles for a single man from Italy who wanted his home to have a sexy vibe. A famous soccer player asked Zelman to use his team colors – silver, white, red and black – in the design of his vacation home in Pembroke Pines. Colombian artist Ariel painted a swimmer for the great room.
Philosophy for using art: “I always talk about leaving a clean slate on the walls,” he says. “You don’t let the walls sing. Let the artwork come out and be the color in the room. I have to work with clients’ collections. I always use neutral tones and let the art and accessories sing.”
Influence of Art Basel: He says his clients are now a lot more educated about art. Some go to Art Basel and ask him to design around art they found.
Advice: “Art is very subjective. I design around people’s tastes,” he says. “How you frame it and how you show it makes part of the room.”
Designer: Jennifer Corredor
Photographer: Daniel Newcomb
Back story: When Corredor was hired, the clients had buyer’s remorse because the space in their Bay Harbor Islands home appeared cramped. Corredor tore down the wall that partitioned off the kitchen and created an open area. The art is from the clients’ collection.
Philosophy for using art: “Art is a very personal thing,” she says. “When I am choosing art I want it to tell a story about the client and add color and vibrancy to the space.”
Influence of Art Basel: Corredor works with a lot of artists and many of the artworks she uses are custom designed. Art Basel is a way for her to discover new artists.
Best advice: “It all has to work with what is being done in the apartment,” she says. “If we hung the art straight across in this room it wouldn’t have the same feeling. You can appreciate each piece separately.”
Designer: Susan LaChance
Photographer: Robert Brantley
Back story: The artwork had to be large enough to balance the white floors and high ceilings in the dining room of this Boca Raton home. The Zen garden she created is also an art form. She says it should be something that makes you want to pause, absorb and enjoy. She purchased an oil painting by Michel Pellus for the dining room. In the Zen garden, she used Chit Chat in stainless steel by Ray Karpuska; Grassman, a Fujichrome on Plexi by Robert Bery; and a 3-D wall treatment to evoke ripples in a pond by Dan Daddona.
Philosophy for using art: “The artwork should look like you collected it and have different mediums,” she says. “I don’t think that art should look ‘decoratorish’ like a color scheme. It should stand on its own.”
Influence of Art Basel: LaChance goes to Art Basel every year to get her creative juices flowing. It has a great influence on what to put in her new jobs and where the trends are.
Best advice: “Art is personal,” she says. “Make sure you like it enough to last a lifetime before investing. I have owned art all my life and still love every piece.”
Jennifer Corredor: J Design Group, 225 Malaga Ave., Coral Gables,
Frances Herrera: Frances Herrera Interior Design, 350 SE Second St., Suite 680, Fort Lauderdale,
Susan LaChance: Susan LaChance Interior Design, 1001 Clint Moore Road, Suite 100, Boca Raton,
Steven Zelman: Zelman Style Interiors, 3430 N. Andrews Ave. Extension, Pompano Beach,