The synergistic relationship between the built environment and art – with insights from some noted experts
With every line drawn, an architect is taught to consider five elements: cost, function, aesthetics, time, and sustainability. On the surface, these would all appear to relate to the building as its own piece of living sculpture. However, a closer look into these words reveals something more.
Procession through space, termination points and how a space opens up to the viewer are all the result of this recipe. Like an artist, the architect and designer manipulate a viewer to elicit an emotional response. A thoughtful designer plays this multi-level chess all in an effort to differentiate a successful project from the average. No two people may have the same response to a design, painting, sculpture or piece of music. While some may find a space emotionally charged from joy to sadness and back again, others may require something more. All of this pushing, pulling, and massaging of a design by the architect runs parallel to the artist doing the same for their work of art.
Art and architecture also run parallel during the manifestation and creation of each. A great artist intuitively understands how forms, color, and light interplay to create a successful work. Yes, all of these and many more elements are rigorously taught in accredited art and architecture schools. However, learning to play the piano, plus delivering an emotionally charged inexplicable work of art is what equals success. The difference in listening to a piano played by a computer and played by a prodigy are two very different experiences.
With the understanding of this marriage, to not consider art in architecture is operating from a less than full palette of tools at your disposal. Both the architect and the artist frame views and create moments in their work.
Residential design, specifically, is highly personal and emotional for people. Infusing an art collection into the mix creates that personal connection to a space. Consider art early in the design process. The architect and designer’s job is to ascertain what the overall design drivers should be. How you build up to the crescendo of your art collection within the context of the procession through your home is as important as the pieces of art themselves. With this in mind, the following questions were asked of some notable experts within the greater Jacksonville design and arts community:
Do your clients understand the importance of incorporating their art collection within the context of their projects? Do you see this request happening more/less frequently than in the past?
Richard Skinner, AIA, Richard Skinner and Associates: Yes, if they have a collection, they understand the importance of how the art is displayed. Most of my clients, however, purchase art over an extended period of time. Sometimes their purchases are more whimsical and not necessarily tied together within a style. We like to have places for the art so it can be appreciated individually and collectively.
Wesley Gibbon, J. Johnson Gallery: We have worked with clients who have contacted us during the design phase of their space to locate just the right work of art, or commission a site-specific piece. However, that is the exception rather than the rule. Sometimes these clients are inspired by their space, other times they simply want to ensure the appropriate considerations for lighting or feature niches are taken into account and planned for at the most ideal time.
Larry Wilson, IIDA, ASID, Designmind LLC: It’s still a hard sell. Many do not see the value of original art as opposed to decorative pieces on the wall. I always get push back.
Bill Jaycox, AIA, Jaycox Architects & Associates: Almost every one of my clients has a specific piece or two of art that from the beginning forms the basis of our design.
Hillary Whitaker, Stellers Gallery at Ponte Vedra Beach: Clients are understanding the importance of incorporating artwork into their homes today more than ever. The finishes, proportions, materials, textures, lighting and sculptural/architectural elements are all a basis for where your artwork will hang and ultimately lead to the cohesion and overall harmony of the space.
Joe Pozzuoli, AIA, Joseph Pozzuoli Architect: A very large percentage of clients have special requests from the conceptual beginning of a project in regard to art collections. More frequently, we have clients willing to put extra consideration into how architecture can inform light, location, spatial relationships, and proportion/scale to best create a relationship with their artwork.