Making the Most of Art in Residential Interiors: Tazie shares her top tips with Art & Museum magazine

A great piece of art can do a lot more than look good, says art consultant Tazie Taysom of ARTIQ. Together with art lighting specialists TM Lighting, we joined Art and Museum magazine for their latest arts issue to share our top tips for making the best of art in residential interiors. Read it in full below:

Art should never be an after-thought
If art is treated as an after-thought, purely on the basis of its decorative value, it loses its potential to tell a strong, integrated story. Art can do so many things, from enhancing and drawing attention to the fabric of a building, working closely to compliment an interior architecture or design scheme, to talking about history, promoting the local economy or supporting the best of young talent. It’s a powerful tool and, for best practice, the briefing and curation process should start as early as possible in the design of an interior scheme. Some designers even design around an art collection in order to ensure a clear expression of patronage and taste, as well to create an authentic sense of place.

Remember that a home is not a gallery
In a domestic setting, people naturally have personal opinions about how they want to see their artwork, so the trick is a balance between achieving the right feeling within each space and making artworks sing, but at the same time ensuring the space doesn’t look too much like a gallery, especially on residential developments. At Woodberry Down, for example, the art ARTIQ curated was all about local artists from the North-East of London and corresponded with the natural views you could see from the property’s window. It was important that as a regeneration project that the development made a real connection with the local economy and art was a key enabling tool for this.

Consider a salon hang
The salon hang is a big contemporary trend with significant historical cachet, taking its name from 18th century European ‘salons’, the equivalent of today’s art schools. A salon hang is the practice of placing several pictures alongside and above one another, either randomly or in a geometric pattern. Buying a lot of art rather than one piece sounds counter-intuitive if your budget is tight, but one of its great benefits is that relatively inexpensive art, when grouped en masse, can create a high-visual impact, as the viewer’s eye tends to focus on the whole rather than the individual artworks. From charity shop finds and budget-friendly prints to one or two judiciously-chosen more major pieces, the overall value of the art can be transformed into more than the sum of its parts.

Don’t underestimate the practical challenges
On a residential scheme, the main challenges for art consultants are often in fact purely practical. What type of wall are you working with, for example? Expert installation should cover positioning, adjacencies, artwork size, home-owner viewpoints, wiring points and how to avoid reflections. It’s certainly important to work with a lighting designer as early on as possible also to ensure that the challenge of reflection – as much as a challenge in fact as daylight exposure – is minimised and negated.

Consider renting art
The World Economic Forum’s eight key predictions for 2030 were led by the proposition that we will rent, not own – ‘all products will have become services’. In the residential market, people are renting houses much more frequently, making it more difficult to invest in art if you don’t know where it’s going to end up. The answer of course is to rent art too! It’s a good model for the future and ensures people choose the right art for the right space at the right time in their lives. If it turns out to be a love match, the artwork can always be purchased later, often with the rental cost deducted.

Once you’ve picked your art, now you have to get the lighting right. Here are some key considerations from Harry Triggs and Andrew Molyneux at TM Lighting:

Explore your options
There are many good ways to light your art collection in the home setting. A salon hang arrangement, for example, can be lit by treating the hang as a single entire work, casting a pool of light that washes over the whole arrangement, or you can pick out a significant piece. Historically, lighting design of homes has been geared towards the use of functional and decorative lighting of the space, with artwork lighting as an afterthought. Today’s trends see artwork lighting as the principle focus for lighting for rooms, with decorative and functional lighting coming secondary to this. A home-owner’s art collection is starting to become a primary consideration for interior designers and interior architects, which has led to a move away from the use of downlighters. There are now discreet and powerful lighting products available such as our LED accent spotlights and picture lights that are sleek and discreet in design and can be made in finishes to suit a room’s particular aesthetic and to match other fittings, that provide the additional benefit of giving lighting designers more flexibility to light artwork properly, as they no longer have to hide the light source.

Let the art itself determine the lighting type
Each piece of art should be treated individually, whether it’s an oil or watercolour, a framed glass print or an aluminium canvas, so you create specific solutions, in balance with the overall feel of the environment. In a contemporary environment, there may be more flexibility to use a discreet track and spotlight solution. This will give greater flexibility in the lighting scheme particularly if you have a rolling or curated art collection. In a classical setting, consider using picture lights instead of spotlights. Both have their own benefits, but the use of picture lights provides a more precise lighting tool in comparison with spotlights, which can create scallops of light above the artwork. There is no hard and fast rule, however, about either option. It is also commonplace to use picture lights in contemporary spaces, and it can be useful to use spotlights in classical heritage properties as needed.

Explore new developments in lighting
Our clients are often looking for solutions to common challenges in interior design, such as finding discreet lighting fittings that don’t distract the eye, but are also powerful enough to illuminate an object or artwork. We’ve recently created a special fitting called the TM ArtPoint, which is a low voltage node installed discreetly into the ceiling to enable you to plug in our TM Zero Series Accent spotlights with utmost flexibility, allowing you to change or simply remove the spotlight when you move artwork around a room, and cover the power source with a plug to help maintain the architectural integrity of a space. It’s similar to gallery track lighting, but designed specifically for a residential aesthetic. Another development is a joint project with Cassambi, using Bluetooth App-controlled lighting, so that home-owners can adjust each light in a room individually, giving dark canvases more light for example.

Getting the quality of light right
Three things we always consider when selecting LEDs for lighting art is what we call ‘The Three C’s’: colour rendition, colour temperature and colour consistency. Colour temperature is very important, deciding where lighting should sit on the spectrum of heat and coolness – anywhere from candlelit orange to hospital waiting room blue. Mostly, we aim for somewhere in the domestic sphere of 2700K up to the 3000K of an office or art gallery. To use 4000K, as some art galleries do, in a domestic setting, would keep you up all night! You need lighting levels to be welcoming and warm, without adding orangey hues which will skew the true colour of the artwork. Be sure to use a good manufacturer though to ensure the quality and consistency of colour, and a high colour rendition of 95+ for LEDs to ensure the colours are true, rich and vibrant.

Protecting art from light damage
Light can be both a positive and a negative thing and it’s very important to protect artwork from light damage. Around 40% of damage to artwork comes from UV light, 25% from infrared and solar heat, 25% from visible light, with the final 10% made up from acid from hands and other human factors. To control damage potential, you should use specific LEDs instead, to remove UV lighting from your artificial lighting and eliminate infrared and heat projection. You can also put UV filters on windows and use blinds. Using the right light source is key because incandescent light sources throw out heat and can expand and contract paintings. It’s important to reduce natural daylight too. There’s typically 5000 – 10,000 lux within natural daylight in the UK, whereas art should be kept at around the 50-200lux level, so it’s always wise not to locate art near windows and to move delicate works to the darker areas of your rooms.

How can I make the most out of my residential art collection? Talk to one of our consultants about curation, procurement and install of art for residential