The distinction between art, architecture and interior design has always been somewhat blurry: a chair can be something to sit on as well as an aesthetic marvel; a staircase can have a role that is both practical and, simultaneously, beautiful; a building’s poetic form may be equally as important as its basic function.
And such distinctions are growing ever blurrier, thanks to a new and burgeoning wave of artistically passionate homeowners electing to fill their living spaces with unique artistic commissions that provide aesthetic pleasure alongside a functional, practical context: artworks that you are, for once, allowed – nay, encouraged – to touch.
These live-in galleries are filled with Nacho Carbonell’s elaborate wine cellar installations; Griffith’s Kandinsky-inspired wardrobes, caged staircase, non-structural columns, pebble dash walls and mirror matrices; Henry Krokatsis’ purposefully uneven floors; Richard Woods’ tennis pavilions and swimming pools built from brightly coloured panels and set in traditional and otherwise pristine English country gardens; Pierre Bonnefille’s meditation rooms, his walls made of ash, cinnabar and melted wax.
Sometimes – as in the case of Alain de Botton’s Living Architecture project, in which architects including Sean Griffiths collaborated with artists such as Grayson Perry to create magical and utterly unique holiday rental homes – the art installations are the very structure of the homes themselves.
But, as art dealer Michael Hue-Williams tells Kate Spicer in the Financial Times, to allow an artist to put his mark on your home is to allow him complete autonomy over that space. Speaking of owning pieces by artist James Turrel, he says: ‘You have to give over a chunk of your real estate to a Turrell. It needs a room entirely of its own – nothing else can happen in there.’
‘With artists there are no rules; they come first and you work round them,’ says interior designer and Spinocchia Freund’s creative director Brigitta Spinocchia Freund. ‘More and more I advise clients to get involved with an artist at as early a stage as possible, so you can literally build an artist’s thinking into the structure of the home. It’s always inspiring working with artists – the way they visualise the room is completely different.’
Indeed, when building one of her own homes, Brigitta commissioned Cuban artists Los Carpinteros to build an installation over the swimming pool. ‘The artists were excited to work away from the gallery for this one-off commission. Working so intricately in a domestic space is a very different sort of exposure for them. And the room is theirs, entirely theirs.’