While interior spaces come together through rich textiles, cozy furnishings, and meaningful art pieces, I think trust is one of the biggest design components. A great deal of trust is required for homeowners to put their space in the hands of a designer with the faith that they will select the right materials and work with the right vendors. Trust becomes even more crucial when selecting items as personal as artwork. The roles of an interior designer vs. an art consultant are very different. However, they both develop intimate and trusting relationships with clients (and each other) to deliver a product that reflects a highly personal sense of style. So, when should you call in an art consultant on a design project? I’m breaking down the roles of interior designers and art consultants and explaining how they work together to create beautifully designed rooms filled with art. Let’s start with the basics.
Interior Designers vs. Art Consultants: The Basics
So, what’s the difference between interior designers and art consultants? Interior designers focus on improving the function and aesthetics of a room while art consultants work to find the best art pieces to accentuate the final look.
Interior designers put their efforts into designing a room that will be functional and beautiful as a whole. Some of a designer’s main jobs include creating initial mood boards, developing a practical floor plan, and selecting colors, finishes, furnishings, and accessories. Additionally, interior designers coordinate with industry partners, such as architects, contractors, tradespeople, vendors, and art consultants. A designer should have technical insight and knowledge of design history and styles, including periods like Georgian interior design and styles like shabby chic.
Art consultants have a more specialized scope, focusing solely on expanding a client’s art collection and curating pieces that coordinate alongside an interior designer’s plan. In some ways, art consultants are like the personal shoppers of the art world, keeping an eye out for rare finds and pieces aligned with their clients’ tastes. While art consultants work with interior designers, they mainly connect with gallerists and artists to stay on top of the latest market trends and hot commodities. An art consultant should have a deep knowledge of art history, current trends, artists’ techniques, and what will work within a client’s space and tastes.
What is an Interior Designer?
An interior designer is someone who designs interiors! We work with our team and other industry professionals to make the inside of our clients’ homes functional and comfortable for everyday living. While problem-solving is central to our role, we also look to add beauty to the spaces we design through items like artwork.
What Does an Interior Designer Do?
Interior designers study how interior design affects our mood and find ways to enhance our clients’ lives through beautiful and functional spaces. We learn about our clients’ tastes and preferences throughout our projects and translate those preferences into a design plan that serves our clients’ lifestyles. I like to say we design for comfort and better living, which includes optimizing floor plans and adorning walls with meaningful art pieces. Some of our services that go into a design or renovation project include:
- Design Consultations
- Project Management
- Spatial Planning and Elevations
- Lighting Plans and Fixture Selections
- Millwork, Cabinetry, and Built-in Specifications
- Color and Material Selections
- Custom Furniture Specifications
- Product and Accessory Procurement
- Coordinating with Industry Partners — Like Art Consultants
When to Hire an Interior Designer
Hire an interior designer when you want to completely transform your room or home. Designers take on a multifaceted role, focusing on ways to improve function and aesthetics. You will want to bring an interior designer on early in the renovation process, so we can find solutions to maximize the space, define your style, select materials, and connect you with other industry professionals like art consultants.
What is an Art Consultant?
An art consultant assists collectors in finding the perfect pieces to expand upon their collections, enhance their investment portfolios, or decorate their homes. They serve as a liaison between clients, gallerists, and artists. They work to curate the best art selections for a room, start a collection on a client’s behalf, or work an existing collection into a new space.
What Does an Art Consultant Do?
The job of an art consultant goes beyond understanding a client’s tastes. Consultants need to stay on top of art market trends, assess the pros and cons of prospective purchases, evaluate the investment potential of an art piece, assist in verifying the work, and secure authentication and ownership rights. Additionally, art consultants work with interior designers to select new art pieces to fit a design or work a client’s existing collection into the redesigned space. They may also assist in hanging artwork or offering guidance on placement.
When to Hire an Art Consultant
If you are already working with an interior designer, they may advise you on when to bring in an art consultant to assist with the project. Additionally, you may want to hire an art consultant if you need help narrowing down your personal art taste, don’t have time to shop for yourself, or need advice on fitting a collection into a new space. You can often utilize an art consultant’s services free of charge when they shop on your behalf because they receive their fee from galleries.
How Interior Designers and Art Consultants Work Together on Design Projects
While designing a client’s home is incredibly personal and intimate, selecting artwork can be even more so. A room needs to function for a client’s lifestyle and match their personality, but art needs to speak to their soul. Interior designers and art consultants often work together, considering the client’s tastes (or existing collection) and working new and old pieces into a design plan. Without this collaboration, artwork may feel out of place in the design, or homeowners may struggle to find spots to display their art after the fact.
Knowing When to Call in the Experts
As design professionals, clients place their trust in our ability to listen to their needs and transform their spaces. The design profession comprises dozens of specialties, including art consultants and interior designers like me. We each bring a unique view and value to the field and know when to lean on each other for support to best serve our client’s wants. However, we all need to know our limitations. While I know a great deal about art history, I recognize when a project requires me to call in an art consultant to get the job done. For example, I may not have the same relationship an art consultant has with local galleries, or my time may be better used drafting a floor plan rather than shopping for art. One of the benefits of working with an interior designer is having that professional connect you with the right experts. Maintaining professionalism requires staying within your scope and always keeping your client’s best interest at heart.
Professionalism is an art.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.