Many of the references that we use as jumping-off points with our clients are so often famous artists’ houses or interesting collectors’ homes.
One of the most dramatic art-focused interiors I’ve ever seen is Cy Twombly’s Rome apartment. The casual nature in which he places amazing art left a huge impression on us and has come through in some of the spaces we’ve designed. There’s something almost slightly careless about it—it’s at once very humble but daring.
Pauline de Rothschild is another one who hung art in the most amazing way. There was really no one else who understood how to leave an empty wall. She also had some incredible scale relationships in her interiors. There’s a room in her London apartment that has this enormous painting of the Roman god Diana and it takes up the entire height of the room. I always wondered how they got it into the space, it’s like a ship in a bottle!
I find Marella Agnelli’s houses wonderful inspiration for how to put big things in little spaces and little things in big spaces. She was so good at having a mix from different periods and price points. And yet, somehow everything had such a crystal clear voice of its own…the harmony was perfect.
A bedroom in Villar Perosa, Marella Agnelli’s home in Turin, Italy.
Even if it’s something that’s valuable, I want you to really get it and feel like you can access it, as opposed to seeing it as a check on the wall. We aren’t trying to create status interiors—I really want you to be able to appreciate every piece in the room.
Dominique de Menil’s home in Houston is a great example. There is great art hanging in a domestic space but it’s the surprising, engaging and compelling arrangements that catch you off guard. Even in her museum, the de Menil Collection, the pieces are hung in very special, meaningful ways. She’s just a master at enabling meaningful relationships with art and its space without making the grand works feel intimidating and off-putting.
The living room of Dominique de Menil’s Houston home, featured in W in November 2014 in a story by William Middleton. See the story at wmagazine.com Tim Walker