Over the last 10 years there has been an amazing divergence in how the decorative and fine arts compare in growth and how they are marketed.  Fine art has become the playground of a younger as well as older generation while the decorative arts are treated as an appendage to the interior design trade.  With today’s ultra minimalism of less is more, the walls of any home offer the biggest and cleanest palate to start decorating.  How can you best complement that starting point?

My business has had a long history of working with many incredible designers who created interiors for the rich and famous, both in real life and in the movies.  For today’s designers, the art is fun and a convenient starting point to develop the environment of a room.  This is the point where the decorative arts must be instilled into a new generation of people.  Seeing the decorative arts working with contemporary art offers an opportunity to any period or style of a fine piece of furniture under it or around it in the room.  And yes, there is a ceiling and floor too.

Furniture and lighting exist all around us and are the things we use.  Maybe a TV can compete for the walls, but for basic eating and sleeping you have some furniture to help fulfill your living requirements. The opportunities to have good decorative arts complement the wall art however, does require more attention and detail than most would admit.  Size, shape, color, and function all play a part in how it should work with the feeling one should experience when entering the space.  Why then, is it so hard to find or want to find a meaningful item to fill a void?  

For collectors, the decorative arts have tended to be highly specialized with smaller more focused areas that seem closer to art.  It is memorabilia like baseball cards that are more art than just decorative.  Coca-cola memorabilia or stamp collecting, these areas have a traditionally strong base of collectors and dealers.  They also don’t offer any complementary feeling to the art on the walls, or for that matter any functionality.  Good decorative arts need to use functionality as an advantage, but go teach that in the world of today’s interior designers and their clients.  It requires a new and inviting approach.

I’ve been reading the Steve Jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson.  One of the fascinating tidbits in the book deals with Jobs understanding that Tiffany was a preeminent designer and manufacturer.  I’ve always appreciated the diversity of work Louis Comfort Tiffany was able to produce, and always with a sense of refinement and quality.  Jobs understood how Tiffany made something be a timeless work of art that can function perfectly. Let’s start with the lighting.

A new sensibility of how the decorative arts will best enhance the living environment is now taking shape.  Clutter in a living space does not work anymore.  The style of over opulence in an 1890’s Victorian home or 1980’s New York apartment isn’t and shouldn’t necessarily have to be back in vogue.  Living nicely should also imply having taste and style, which minimalism greatly restricts.  Even environmentally, they make sense.  Making the decorative arts an approachable and desirable part today’s lifestyle might need more than a prayer and hope.  But a great marketing plan, like Apple…..

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