We can all agree on art’s potential to transform a space into a personal experience. But, how does this potential turn into a reality? My recent talk with Vienna-based contemporary art expert Alexandra Schafer shed light on the creative and logistical process behind the selection, acquisition, handling, and installation of the “perfect” group of artworks for an interior design concept.While working remotely on behalf of her interior design partners, which are based all over the world. Over coffee, Alexandra, Founder of VELVENOIR, an art consultancy firm specialized in sourcing and procuring contemporary artworks for the hospitality, private and corporate sectors, shared some of the interior design projects, she had the pleasure to join her international interior design partners to support them to fill their works with contemporary art in Canada, the US and Europe.
Interview written by Conostanza Ontiveros
PRIVATE RESIDENCE IN NEW YORK DRIVEN BY A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH
We call this project Elysian which means (adj.) Beautiful, creative, divinely inspired; peaceful and perfect.
In Elysian, a private home located in New Jersey, Alexandra and her team sought to represent the clients’ love for mixed-media techniques and the work of emerging artists while at the same time honoring the design concept of renowned NY-based designer Laurence Carr, which follows an ethos of circularity, sustainability, and healthy living. This ethos reflected on how VELVENOIR handled and selected the artworks. “Throughout the entire project, we ensured all shipments have been collected and or managed as sustainably as possible to avoid carbon footprint,” Alexandra shared. As part of the sustainable practices, the works were shipped rolled up and Schafer made sure the works were framed close to the collectors’ home.
Alexandra shared some of the residence’s highlights are works by Nike Schroeder, a renowned LA-based German artist who creates sculptural mixed-media pieces using hanging rayon threads arranged in subtle color gradations. While not having an ecological theme, most of the artist’s works are made with rayon, a natural and biodegradable fiber. At the same time, the colorful artwork fit perfectly with the collectors’ interest in mixed-media works and made a statement on the living room’s double-height white wall. Another work Alexandra lists as her favorite for the project is a lively colored paperwork by emerging Brazilian artist Mirela Cabral that captures the eye and brings to life the office space of this residence.
This private-residence project, designed by award-winning Vancouver-based interior designer Andrea Rodman was guided by the vibes of Japandi, a hybrid union of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics. While distant, both design styles are appreciated for their exceptional craftsmanship, simplicity, reverence for natural materials, and the beauty of embracing imperfection. With this vision in mind, Alexandra and her team worked remotely from Vienna with Andrea’s Canadian-based design firm and proposed a list of contemporary artworks for the collectors, a couple with eclectic tastes. As Schafer explained, the carefully curated selection of artworks considered all aspects of the artworks from their market value and relevance to the textures, styles, scale, and color palette. In this case, the project’s main features were wood, rattan, natural stone, and oak tones so the challenge was to bring in works that would be statement pieces while at the same time complementing the project’s Zen-like aesthetic. VELVENOIR’s involvement did not end there as the firm, oversaw all aspects of the shipment, handling, import, and customs next to every minute detail of the framing.
“Highlights of our carefully considered collection include a two metre high work by the multi-disciplinary Belgian artist Jean Boghossian, which we placed as a statement piece in the understated living room. Work by Sun Young Min was placed in the dining area, in conversation with two fine-art photographs from Brooke Holms. A striking abstract by Canadian painter Bobbie Burgers, and Expressionist work by Swiss artist Pia Fries also stand out on the walls, while complementing the interior design Andrea has designed.”
(n.) the zen experience when one’s own nature is seen for it truly is.
In this beautiful sea-side property, located in Zadar, Croatia, Alexandra, and her interdisciplinary Vienna-based team selected artworks that would connect to both the ocean, which is the project’s main character, and to Steininger’s minimalist design concept characterized by the use of materials like concrete brut, exquisite woods, and rare metal alloys. At the same time, in this one-of-a-kind project, the architecture of the villa also came into the equation as the use of the famous natural stone from the Croatian island of Brač, which has been used for centuries for monuments all over the world, crates a great interplay between the residence and its breath-taking surroundings.
Alexandra’s picks from this project, finished in 2019, are Jonathan Smith’s large-scale fine art photographs of seaside scenes which enhance the poetic presence of the sea in the interior spaces of this lavish residence. She also mentioned other areas of the property, like the living room and one of its bedrooms, are filled with large-scale minimal textile works on canvas by Perry Roberts, characterized by their geometric forms and the exploration the artist makes of color gradations. Remarkably, the artwork’s color gradations seem to echo the color palette of the villa’s furniture and finishes.
After my conversation with Alexandra, something was clear. The pairing between art and design is no simple matter. It involves a deep art sensitivity; first-hand knowledge of the international art market and a direct line to artists, galleries, framers and art handlers; an understanding of the limitations and possibilities of a space; and the ability to materialize the client’s interests and design concepts without sacrificing the quality of the artworks which, at the end of the day, form part of a carefully curated and valuable art collection. Like with all things in life, nothing happens by magic…