Here's How

Most interior designers have, at one time or another, worked with clients who don’t understand how important the right art is to the overall design of a space. In order to avoid leaving a beautifully curated room with bare walls or artwork that wrecks havoc with its surroundings, these three experienced designers incorporate art into early discussions with clients. Along with their distinctive design styles, each of these interior designers has her own approach to making sure her clients understand the value the right piece can bring.

Jane Bell Interior Design

Art is a mystery to a lot of my clients. They know it can range from framed online prints for a couple hundred dollars to many thousands for art from high-end galleries. It’s the mid-range that is most challenging and clients often don’t know what they want or where to go.

At the beginning of a job, my clients and I will go over pictures of projects online or in magazines in order to discuss colors and different approaches to style. From the beginning, I make a point to focus on images of art in the different settings so they can see that it’s just as important as any piece of furniture and that it can affect the whole feeling, the whole mood of a space.

Commissioning a piece of art is a leap of faith. Clients have to trust the designer and be willing to give the artist some leeway. If they like an artist’s body of work and want something original that really speaks to the space they’re creating, commissioning a work can end up making them so happy. Art ties everything together and is really transformative.”

Danit Ben Ari Interior Transformations

Our conversations about art typically start during our first meeting. Either we’re trying to support an existing work of art with other design choices or determine where on the walls we have the opportunity to place original pieces based on design choices.

I will often say that I’d like to show them show them some art work so that they can begin to understand what I mean about art as a core component, so they can begin to visualize the importance of art to their homes.

Michelle Woehler Summerland Homes and Gardens

I like to discuss art with my clients at the start of the design process, to see if they have purchased original art before, what type of art they like, and what their comfort level is pricewise. Often, we choose the art first, and then the art dictates the other design decisions. But it should always be considered when pulling together all the elements of the room, not as an afterthought once the room is almost done.

I also try to educate clients on the creative process artists go through to create a piece of art. An original painting adds drama and personality to a space, and the richness of color and texture creates a mood that won’t show up in a print. Original art is unique, one of a kind, especially if it is commissioned and customized for the exact size needed for a particular space.



Cornflower • Oil on canvas • 20 x 16%22.jpeg

If Rio Hamilton were to meet his match, it would have been last March 28 when the New York Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDANY) convened an illustrious panel of creative women at 3form New York showroom for an evening entitled, “Designing the Glass Ceiling: Shattering the Status Quo.” Rio’s job was to moderate the participants— Gisue Hariri, Robin Wilson, Malene Barnett, Jean Brownhill and Jennifer Graham—as they discussed their definition of success and the experiences they’ve gained on the way to the top of their respective fields.

Almost any moderator would have had reason to feel intimidated but if Rio did, it didn’t show. Instead, introduced as an “esteemed chronicler of the industry, an accomplish marketer and a wonderful designer in his own right,” it seemed as if he knew that he was just where he belonged.

Whether he’s coordinating an event for one of his clients or documenting one for his widely-read blog, Mon Oncle, Rio began early on preparing for all the roles he play within the various segments of the design industry. From the time he was a young boy in Las Cruces, New Mexico rearranging his mother’s furniture, design was something that pulled at him.

“I had this need to redecorate from a very young age,” he said. “So I’d enlist a friend to help me move the furniture. Mom would come home from work and it would drive her crazy. But she’s still in the same house and she’s kept some of my ideas forever.”