Tag Archives: design


Founded in 2010, &tradition is part of a new generation of design companies beginning to make waves in the interiors world. Established on the principle that tradition is tied to innovation, the Copenhagen-based studio focuses on reinventing Danish design through collaboration. Using a handpicked selection of designers that range from emerging talent to established names allows the company evolve and grow with each collection. In an industry which is constantly changing, &tradition’s philosophy ensures they not only remain relevant but always one step ahead of the pack.

Previously known as Unique Copenhagen, &tradition’s rebrand symbolised their approach that combines solid handicraft with modern design and Nordic tradition with high quality. Founder, Martin Kornbek Hansen explains, “we want to connect with the old masters while giving space to new designers to define what will become future classics. We see a kinship between the old masters, who were avant-garde in their time, and new designers creating the ground-breaking icons of today.”

However, the concept of designing with one foot in the past and one in the future forms only part of their story. Cultures, too, play a fundamental role in the design process with &tradition taking a decidedly international approach when selecting their designers. The combination of varying influences merges with &tradition’s Nordic heritage to form the backbone of each collection and gift each piece with a unique identity.

Commenting on &tradition’s collaboration with Spanish designer, Jamie Hayon, Hansen explains, “we as a family are founded in Copenhagen with a Scandinavian design heritage, for the interest comes when you combine cultures. Where (&tradition) are rooted in Scandinavian design, he (Hayon) is founded in the Spanish way of working. That clash together makes the products that we launch together very exciting and new.”

&tradition’s avant-garde approach to design extends to their headquarters. Located on Paper Island, just off Copenhagen’s harbour, NORM Architects have transformed a former warehouse into a series of minimalist white showrooms. Known as the ‘village,’ these houses are the culmination of a five-year journey between the design house and architects. Beginning with trade fairs and pop-ups, NORM’s striking village lies somewhere between architecture and a functional art installation.

Historically used as a paper store, NORM have completely stripped back the interior space leaving only the skeletal timber gables which remain as a subtle nod to the building’s heritage. The smooth concrete and resin flooring contrasts the original features with the matt finish serving to ground the twelve white structures that populate the space. These ‘houses’, arranged in a grouped layout reminiscent of a Mediterranean village, come complete with streets and alleys interlinking the units. A modern piazza, placed in the centre of these units, forms a natural meeting point for parties, talks, and presentations. “We have been working intensely with archetypical elements from village architecture, like the city square, the church tower, the main streets, the alleys, the perfect grid and the imperfect irregularities that occur by chance,” said Linda Korndal of Norm Architects.

Each of the structures is designed in the same architectural language but feature subtle variations depending on their particular use. Some are like towers; others have windows and doors, internal staircases and a rooftop terrace and a few are blank monolithic structures without detailing or signature. While many of the pavilions are functional (operating as kitchens, meeting rooms or displays) the majority are flexible spaces, open to change.

Paper Island, also known as Christiansholm Island, is proving increasingly popular amongst the city’s creative contingency, who see the warehouses as ideal spaces for their studios or workshops. This migration is something that Hansen is looking to harness in order to bring life into his artisanal village. “What we’re really excited about is that every six months we are planning to invite artists and designers to create an overall concept for the space so that it will function like a gallery for our products,” said Hansen.

The immersive experience created by &tradition’s village headquarters is one of the factors that has seen the company considered amongst the most exciting brands to arrive in recent times. Their respect for the old masters twinned with their innovative drive allows them to celebrate not only classical design by Arne Jacobsen or Vernon Paton but importantly, serves as a bridge for the next generation. In an era where designers are focussed on the future, &tradition helps remind us that to move forward; you have to look back first.



Brick has a rich and colourful history that belies its humble, utilitarian purpose. As the preferred building block for over seven millennia, the composition, colour and application reveals as much of the people that used them as the buildings they form. From brick used during the Roman Empire individually stamped with the seal of the legion that formed them to the London’s red brick, whose fiery hue was used to define the capital’s buildings in the thick smog of the Industrial era.

Whilst there are methods that can be applied to create variations in colour and texture, brick is not usually the first choice for grand or landmark structures. However this is beginning to change. Architects and engineers are experimenting with brick’s composition and application, enhancing it’s abilities and cosmetic appearance. This is mostly prevalent in contemporary architecture, an area of the industry noted for its ability to successfully redefine context and content.

Here are a selection of our favourite recent examples:


1. ABC Building by WISE Architecture, Seoul, South Korea



Designed by WISE ARCHITECTURE, the ABC building is one of a number of ‘grey flanneled’ buildings that have gained popularity in recent years.

Located across from the Sanjung-Reung Park, which holds the tomb of the Chosun dynasty, this 5 storey building was designed to act as an Architectural Mountain with the top roof terrace providing the architectural summit. The use of perforated brick provides people with a continuous view when using the external staircase and provides an exaggerated appearance when viewed from the street.

Young Jan, Head Architect at WISE ARCHITECTURE explains:

“The black brick is the most visible material in the Building. The stair alley wall consists of a steel frame system and dry brick wall fabrication façade without traditional mortar masonry. It creates a transparent experience of a solid brick wall with multiple brick wall layers. A building starts with a piece of brick and was completed with a piece of brick as well.”


2. Turnmill, London by Piercy & Company



Pierce and Company’s Turnmill site sits on a prominent corner of London’s Clerkenwell Conservation Area. Focussing on the building’s unique position this former nightclub has been transformed into a 97,000 sqft two part, curved structure. Constructed from handmade Roman format Petersen Telg Kolumba bricks, the facade has been designed to reflect the masonry characteristics notably found in Clerkenwell’s warehouses.

Architect Petersen explains: “The delicate, light and shimmering colours and the bricks’ handmade structure give the façade the appearance of a refined, woven piece of cloth, while the volume and solidity of the edifice invoke associations with the centuries-old warehouses that have played a key role in the colourful history of the local area.”

Earlier this year Turnmill was awarded the Brick Award 2015 for the Best International & Worldwide Project by the Brick Development Association.


3. Darbishire Place, London by Niall McLaughlin Architects



Commissioned by London’s Peabody Trust to replace a East London mansion block destroyed in WW2, Niall MacLaughlin’s building offers a subtle reimagining of the original Victorian estate. Designed to compliment Henry Darbishire’s original development, deep white reveals have been added around the windows and balconies providing a elegant contrast to the brick facade. 

Continuing Darbishire’s idea of ‘open corners’ the balconies are positioned within the building envelope, so as to retain a flat brick facade in keeping with the existing blocks. These balconies have openings on two sides to allow a maximum amount of daylight into the living rooms. At least half of the thirteen 1,2,3 and 4-bed units will be affordable dwellings.

Earlier this year Darbishere Place was awarded Joint Best Housing Design Award by the Brick Development Association.



Whilst architects are experimenting with brick’s decorative aesthetic, engineers are also busy enhancing its abilities. Here a few of the best innovations:

1. Cool Brick


3D printing company, Emerging Objects’ latest innovation seeks to provide the death-knell to the air-conditioning systems. Their ceramic product, aptly named ‘Cool Brick’ is essentially a hybrid slab that comprises a wooden lattice and ceramic jar. Using a revolutionary porous design to absorb rainwater, when air is passed through the water retained within the micropores evaporates which produces  a cooling effect to the home’s interior spaces.

Whilst this doesn’t offer the same level of precision as climate controlled systems, this demonstrates another significant step forward in the quest for sustainable design.

2. PolyBrick


Sabin Design Lab’s latest Polybrick design is composed of interlocking ceramic bricks. Requiring no mortar and eco-friendly these are able to be created via 3-D printing – a feature that grants this product great credit in the environmental market. 

Whilst this is impressive, the model’s latest innovation developed by the research lab at Cornell University, has a highly unusual composition. Constructed using a mixture of clay, maltodextrin and vodka, this combination allows the bricks to be produced for a paltry $4 each. Whilst this is not yet on the market, and requires a complex system of algorithms and equipment in the production process, demonstrations are expected within the next 12 months.

A Tribute to the remarkable Zaha Hadid

Architecture suffered an extraordinary loss with the passing of Zaha Hadid last month. Over a 30 year career that saw her crowned ‘Queen of the Curve’ (in tribute to her signature blend of flowing lines and organic forms), Hadid’s iconic style was unlike any of her contemporaries. A true visionary, Hadid was ultimately recognised as the finest female architect in the world and was awarded the highest accolades including the Royal Gold Medal (2016) and the Pritzker Prize (2004).

Born in Baghdad, Hadid moved to the UK in 1972 to begin her architectural studies at London’s prestigious Architectural Association (AA). Regarded as one of the major hubs for progressive architectural philosophy during the 70s, Hadid’s ability soon caught the attention of her tutors, Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zengelis. However, it would take the encouragement from the faculty to persuade Hadid of her own aptitude. Madeline Vriesendorp, who worked at the AA during Hadid’s time recalls, “She was very shy, not forceful. She would present her extraordinary drawings half-crumpled and scattered on the floor. For some reason, she chose to burn them at the edges. She was embarrassed. If you show your work, it’s like undressing in front of people. The more you believe in something the more you are embarrassed.”


Their efforts paid off, with Koolhaas later commenting that “Zaha’s performance during the fourth and fifth years was like that of a rocket that took off slowly to describe a constantly accelerating trajectory. Now she is a PLANET in her own inimitable orbit. That status has its own rewards and difficulties: due to the flamboyance and intensity of her work, it will be impossible [for her] to have a conventional career. She owes it to her talent to refine and develop over the next few years.”

Upon graduating from the AA, Hadid joined as a partner at Koolhaas’ Rotterdam Office for Metropolitan Architecture. In 1979, she left to set up Zaha Hadid Architects in London, which she ran with Patrick Schumacher. From here her career started, albeit slowly. Hadid’s first project came after winning the international competition to design the Peak Terminus in Hong Kong. Although this never materialised (due to the developer going bankrupt), her submission was critically acclaimed and launched Hadid onto the global platform. Centred around a selection of black and blue paintings, the design demonstrated her structurally ambitious and geometrically fractious style that recalled the revolutionary Russian Constructivists of the 1920s. These works would later form an important part of the Deconstructionist Architecture” exhibition held at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1988. A show that the New Yorker would describe as proving to “…. have been the second most important American architectural exhibit of all time”.

Hadid’s approach to architecture would be her calling card. Described as both a ‘Deconstructionist’ and ‘Neo-modernist,’ a more apt term would be baroque modernist. The classic baroque architects, such as Borromini and da Cortona, shunned the traditional single view perspective, instead creating vast ceilings that redirected the focus upwards to God. Hadid’s philosophy followed an equally revolutionist path that redefined the strict rules of modernism laid down by Le Corbusier and others. Her buildings, formed of multiple perspectives and flowing spaces, sought to reflect the chaotic fluidity of modern living.

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Although many applauded Hadid’s skill and ambition, commissions were hard to come by. Promising projects in Dusseldorf and West Berlin both failed to complete: a trend that was becoming all too regular. As a result, the majority of her first 20 years was spent lecturing, splitting her time between the AA and Harvard University’s School of Design where she held the Kenzo Tange Chair. She would later hold similarly influential positions at the universities of Yale, Columbia, Illinois and Vienna.

While the 1990s saw Hadid realise her first project, the Vitra Fire Station (1993), this decade would be marred by controversy: the most prominent being the Cardiff Opera House. Having won the international competition, her designs were later rejected after the government ultimately refused to pay for the project due to opposition by local politicians. It was only upon the completion of the Richard and Lois Rosenthal Centre for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio, that her career truly began. Finished in 2003 and described by the New York Times as being “the most important new building in America since the Cold War”, it was only now that Hadid was able to shrug off her reputation as an architect who ‘designed daring buildings that couldn’t be built.’

From here commissions began to mount up, increasing in size and grandeur. Over the next ten years, Hadid would complete a plethora of projects which allowed her to gain the recognition she deserved. Among these landmarks included cultural palaces in Azerbaijan in South Korea and a stadium for the World Cup in Qatar. In 2004, Hadid was also be awarded the Pritzker Prize – the highest achievement in the industry and considered to be architecture’s version of the Nobel Prize.

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However many projects she completed during this period, Hadid would later lament the lack of interest shown by the UK. “There isn’t a belief in the fantastic (in Britain), she explained, “They don’t think it’s possible.” This did eventually change with projects such as a cancer centre in Kirkcaldy, a transport museum in Glasgow, a library in Oxford, an academy school in south London, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, and the Aquatics Centre: the most dramatic of the buildings created for the London 2012 Olympics.

No matter how high her status climbed, Hadid’s work remained divisive. Many of her projects have been the subject of controversy. However, her talent remained undeniable and often transformed the views of those who at the beginning doubted her. Among these was eminent critic and Archigram founder, Sir Peter Cook who had commented on Hadid’s earlier work with Koolhaas, “I would hate to live in their buildings…..I would run screaming from their barrack-like walls and their prison-like cages.” Indeed, it was Cook who would later propose Hadid for the Royal Gold Medal commenting that “For three decades she has ventured where few would dare……if Paul Klee took a line for a walk, then Zaha took the surfaces that were driven by that line for a virtual dance.”

In comparison to all other art forms, architecture is by far the slowest paced. It is also a profession that resists the emergence of prodigies due to the breadth and extent of knowledge required to perform at the highest level. As a result, many of the greatest architects only produce their finest work in the later stages of their lives. It is not uncommon for this to extend far past the accepted age of retirement with I.M. Pei and Frank Lloyd Wright continuing well into their 80s or 90s. This is one of the main bereavements that comes with Hadid’s passing. While her achievements and influence are undeniable, at the age of sixty-five it can be said that she was only just beginning. Architecture may have lost one of its greatest modern visionaries, but Hadid’s vibrant and extraordinary work will endure, becoming more relevant as our cities change to closer reflect her designs.


Highlights from SALONE DEL MOBILE, 2016

Now in its 55th year, Milan’s Salone Del Mobile is the biggest and longest running global design event. Spread over six days, this year’s edition saw 300,000 visitors converge on Italy’s industry capital to attend over 22,000 exhibitions and over 1,000 events. A veritable festival of design, each of these exhibitions represents a launchpad for the latest collections and concepts by many of the finest artisans in the world.

Shunning the traditional practice whereby designers just display their latest work, here in Milan every effort has been made to encapsulate a complete and immersive experience. Even the restaurants, which Milan is not short of, have been engineered to provide a showcase for new and exciting work. This year the spotlight was on Tom Dixon, who has collaborated with stone specialist Caesarstone to create their unique take on dining out. Located in the late baroque church, La Rotonda Della Besana, their installation features four futuristic kitchens inspired by the elements of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air; with each theme accompanied by a corresponding dining hall.

In a similar vein, British designer Lee Broom has taken a decidedly unorthodox approach this year. His latest collection, Optical, was presented via a delivery van nicknamed the ‘Salone Del Automobile.’ Over the festival, the van moved between a variety of hotspots around the city, stopping at the Brera Design District, Zona Torona, and Spazio­ Rossana Orlandi. Those who managed to track down the wandering installation were invited to step into the back of the van and experience Broom’s interpretation of an Italian palazzo complete with his new range of monochrome floor and pendant lights. “I wanted to make the same impact as last year but without creating a huge installation,” Broom says. “While deciding where to exhibit, I thought: what about everywhere?”

Every facet of the design industry is celebrated here. From Salone Satellite, a platform for young designers and now in its 19th year, and Space & Interiors, which focusses on architecture, to the International Bathroom Expo; the extent and range on show mean it is impossible to see everything. We present our shortlist among the happenings during the most important week in design.



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One of the most popular launches was Michael Anastassiades’ first furniture collection for US company Herman Miller. Known for his minimalist lighting range, the London-based designer has produced a collection of stools alongside tables and large-scale versions of his mobile-style lights at the Herman Miller showroom in Milan. 

Working to create pieces that reflect Miller’s reputation for timeless pieces, the stools have been stripped to their bare fundamentals. Each one has been crafted from solid timber and features one leg in brass: a finish that appears regularly throughout Anastassiades’ lighting range. While further variations will be available at a later date, these first editions have been produced in American Oak or Walnut: materials which allow the stools to acquire a unique character over time. 

Titled ‘The Double Dream of Spring’, a reference to a 1915 painting by 20th-century Italian metaphysical artist Giorgio de Chirico, the installation was housed in the Herman Miller showroom on Corso Garibaldi.

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Now in its eighth year, Minecraft returns to Salone Del Mobile under the guidance of celebrated design duo GamFatesi. Focussed on showcasing new and original works by some of Denmark’s most talented craftspeople and designers, the latest edition was held at the Circle Filologica in central Milan. 

This year’s theme sought to add another dimension to the exhibition by paying homage to the host building’s heritage. Titled, “In My Mind Craft’, GamFratesi explains their concept: “Like last year, we have chosen a historical venue for the MINDCRAFT exhibition: the Circolo Filologico in the center of Milan. This institution studies the origins of texts and literature, and driven by the notion of tracing the origins of a project, an idea, thought; we looked to historical ideas about the human brain as a source of inspiration for our exhibition concept. The designers and craftspeople selected to take part in MINDCRAFT16 have each interpreted the theme “In My Mind Craft” in their individual works.”

Presented by the Danish Arts Foundation, those participating included Benandsebastian, Anne Dorthe Vester and Maria Bruun, Christina Schou Christensen.

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By far the biggest showstopper of the week was architect Sou Fujimoto’s Forest of Light installation for fashion label COS. Exploring the concept of interaction and perspective, Fujimoto has transformed a former theatre with towering cones of light that respond to visitors’ movements.

Here, light is used as an architectural material with the series of conical spotlights arranged to represent abstract tree formations. The forest effect is enhanced by mirrored walls surrounding the installation which help create the illusion of an infinite landscape. A combination of fog and specially composed sounds provide the surreal ambience, all adding to Fujimoto’s immersive experience.

“In this installation for COS, I envisage to make a forest of light,” said Fujimoto. “A forest which consists of countless light cones made from spotlights above. These lights pulsate and constantly undergo transience of state and flow. People meander through this forest as if lured by the charm of the light. Light and people interact with one another, its existence defining the transition of the other.”

Located at the Via Pietro Masgani 8, the exhibition represents COS’ fifth showing at Salone Del Mobile. Since 2011, COS have commissioned an architecture or design studio to create an installation. Previous projects have included collaborations with Nendo in 2014 and Snarkitecture last year.





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Salone Del Mobile’s profile was significantly raised in the Chinese market with the official launch of their latest satellite exhibition coming to Shanghai in November. As a result, it comes as no surprise to see an influx of Asian design houses taking the opportunity to show their latest product lines in Milan, including Neri&Hu and Stellar Works.

Hong Kong designer André Fu presented his new ‘Tac/Tile’ collection of bespoke handblown lights (below). Created in collaboration with the Czech Republic-based glass manufacturer Lasvit, the project marks a return to the Hong Kong-based designer’s architectural roots. The series of lamps, each featuring a 23mm-thick seamless fold of handblown glass and paired with a minimalist matt-bronze frame, are part of what Fu describes as his ‘exploration of the materiality of glass.’

Further examples were shown in the ‘Alamak! Design in Asia’ exhibition which brought together 12 designers in hopes of making a “contemporary impression on the perception of what design in Asia is.” 

Elsewhere, Superstudio Piu hosted an exhibition titled ’Tradition in Evolution’, which featured some show stopping pieces including Frank Jiang’s White Moon vanity and Qiang Yu’s Screen (above).



Period Features: Property’s Forgotten Past

Often overlooked in recent years, interior mouldings have returned to the spotlight. Traditionally used to enhance the proportion of a room and demonstrate status, the style of decoration is often considered as important to the building’s heritage as the exterior architecture.


With many historical trends, these architectural details have practical origins. Frequently seen in Greek and Roman architecture where it was used to enrich the interiors, plasterwork only became common practice in the UK following the fire of London in 1212. In light of the devastation this had on the city, King John decreed that all buildings along the Thames must plaster both their interior and exterior walls as a fireproof measure. 

Period mouldings such as plaster cornicing, coving, and ceiling roses have been an essential decorative feature of the home since gaining prominence in the Georgian period (1714-1830). This chapter saw the widespread transition from ceilings supported by visible timber joists to suspended ceilings adorned with decorative plasterwork. Previously reserved for the exceptionally wealthy or royal families, many of their stately homes have showcased crests and badges in their mouldings since the mid-1600s.

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Heavier and more elaborate decoration was reserved for the public parts of the house such as the porch, hallway, reception and dining rooms. These grander spaces provided an opportunity to showcase the homeowner’s wealth and taste with the private areas (kitchens and bedrooms) being adorned with comparatively simplistic detailing.

Ceiling Roses, while primarily considered a decorative element, once served an important role. Often boasting the most complex detailing in the house, they were used to distract attention from the soot and dust produced by candles and oil lamps that adorned the chandeliers below. In the Victorian era, it became common practice to add deep recesses that served as ventilation for gas lighting, a trend becoming popular among the British upper-class.

The introduction of wallpaper in the late 1880s saw a return to the more restrained and straightforward styles championed by the early Georgians. With successful trade routes established with the Orient, the aristocracy was quickly drawn to the lustrous effect that came with the first handcrafted silk wall finish.

These trends, which are once again proving popular, can be traced to three specific periods ranging over 200 years.


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Georgian (1714-1830)

Preceded by the Baroque era, the Georgian period was heavily influenced by Palladian architecture. Pioneered by James Gibbs, this approach focussed on symmetry, proportion and perspective; drawing heavily from the ancient Greeks and Romans.

This period saw mouldings become less detailed and started to show heavier detailing. Popular designs included the ‘egg and dart’ or ‘dentil’ which featured along the bottom edge of the moulding.

The Georgian era saw the creation of the dado rail. With fashion dictating that dining chairs were placed against the walls rather than under the table, the rail offered protection from knocks and marking. These were traditionally positioned at 900mm from the floor.

Regency (1811-1820)

This period reflects the nine years the Prince Regent ruled before ascending to the throne as King George IV in 1820. This spell saw mouldings take on a lighter and more decorative quality. Designs followed an increasingly mathematical approach evidenced in the symmetry, scale, and proportions. These years also saw the rise of one of London’s greatest builders, John Nash, who was responsible for many of the best examples of Regency architecture. Predominantly formed of sweeping terraces, his work includes the Royal Pavilion, Regents Street, and Buckingham Palace.

Victorian (1837-1901)

Arguably the most creative and ambitious of all the periods, the Victorian era focussed on revival and reinterpretation. Drawing inspiration from a myriad of different architectural periods, from Neoclassical and the Renaissance to the Oriental and Medieval, the Victorians favoured the bold and ornate. They also created their versions such as Jacobethan: a combination of the Jacobean and Elizabethan styles.

This period also saw the phasing out of the dado rail, although the picture rail remained. With the preference now to place dining chairs around the table, the rail no longer served it’s original purpose. The removal of the rail led to higher skirting boards and deeper cornices designed to provide balance to the comparatively bare wall.

The surge in building work during these years saw plaster mouldings linked to social hierarchy. With developers free to determine the suitable style depending on their target market, detailing became integral to the success of the overall design. Larger and more substantial houses required more elaborate features to justify their price while at the lower end plaster mouldings were neither affordable nor appropriate.


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With today’s interior market increasingly focussing on heritage for inspiration, we are seeing a resurgence in interest for period mouldings. Designers from Rose Uniake to Joseph Dirand are demonstrating how best to showcase these architectural features. Breathing life back into these details, this trend for preservation provides a much-needed celebration of the home’s historical identity.

A Definitive Guide to Collecting Art

The process of collecting art has until recently been a privilege to the few with means or connections. Over the past decade or so the industry has seen significant changes granting greater transparency for both the artists and collector. The move from galleries and auction houses to online platforms means it is easier than ever to gain access into this previously guarded world. With new artists being discovered and new markets emerging (particularly South Korea and China) this is the perfect time to begin your journey.

Never the less there are a few elements you need to consider before you start. We present the four essential stages required to starting your collection:


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The process of buying art falls mainly into two approaches: either finding and acquiring a piece that you love on the spot or via visiting exhibitions and by keeping abreast of what is happening in the market. Whist the former is more prevalent, the process of educating yourself allows for a more informed and confident final decision. 

Visiting exhibitions and fairs is the best way to start, and we are privileged in London to have a selection of the finest in the world. However, if the emerging market grabs your attention, then graduate shows are an excellent way to begin collecting an artist from the very beginning of their career – a prospect which is both exciting and perhaps, maybe even lucrative in years to come.  

Exhibitions: Frieze, Affordable Art Fair, PAD, Masterpiece, Pinta, LAPADA Art and Antiques Fair, Moniker Art Fair

Galleries: Ransom Gallery, Pace London, Gagosian, Lisson, White Cube, Victoria Miro, Johnny Van Haeften, Saatchi

Graduate Exhibitions: Royal College of Art (RAC), University of the Arts, Slade School of Fine Art, Central St Martins, Chelsea College of Arts.


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People buy art for many reasons, but primarily for two reasons: the piece itself or for the investment potential. More commonly, though, art is purchased because of the emotion it evokes in the buyer. It has been widely accepted that fine e art holds a certain power over people, although this effect is not universal. Whilst some are more affected by the classical works such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David, others are drawn to the more abstract works by Pollock or Hirst. 

Interestingly UCL completed a study in 2011 seeking to “see what happens in the brain when you look at beautiful paintings.” Subjects were shown a range of paintings from a selection of 28 works that included Monet, Constable and Reni, whilst undergoing an MRI scan that analysed the blood flow in the”medial orbitofrontal cortex, part of the brain associated with pleasure and desire” (Mendick). 

The results were instantaneous and as expected, varied from one subject to another. Zeki explains, ”what we found was the increase in blood flow was in proportion to how much the painting was liked……the blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love”. So there you have it: buying art that resonates with you has proven psychological benefits.


Buying art as an investment is a path well trodden and one increasingly difficult to make profitable. However, anyone can buy art intelligently. Here are three key questions that need to be satisfied before you close the deal:

1. Who is the artist?

Research who you are buying. Information usually comes in two forms: spoken and written. Spoken information will come from those directly involved with the sale (the dealer and the artist) or from others in the know. The written or published information is the most key. Research the artist through their websites, gallery websites, auction houses and other publications.  These are usually available from the galleries themselves or easily accessed via the internet.

The combination of the two will ensure that you are well informed and in a better position to make the purchase.

2. How significant is the art?

Knowing where a particular piece sits within an artists’ career or collection is key. Understanding whether your desired work is a ‘minor’ or ‘major’ player in their portfolio will help you ascertain the correct value.

Always check whether it is original or reproduction. If it is a print, then it is integral to understand whether it is a limited edition and if so how many are produced? If it is a limited edition, then check whether it is generated by the artist or by mechanical means as often reproductions (particularly glicees) are are digital creations with no input from the artist save a signature.

3. Provenience, history and documentation

Always ensure that you have the proper documentation relating to the artwork. The gallerists should be able to tell you of the previous owners (if any) and trace this back to the original sale. Failure to ensure that all accompanying documentation is correct at the time of sale may cause the value to reduce.


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Emerging markets have provided a platform allowing new talent artists to showcase their work. This is particularly evident in the comparatively untapped regions of Eastern Europe, South Korea and China which are producing some of the most exciting talents today. MA graduates from these parts of the world are the best place to start as they are only just beginning their careers – you have to catch them early to profit!

Whilst this may not be the drive for some, the thought of picking up the future Pollock or Lichenstein for many is very much part of the journey. 


You shouldn’t think of your collection as static. “Your taste changes. The more educated you are, you start to look at things differently,” says Laura Noble, gallerist and author of the Art of Collecting Photography. She adds that one should “be prepared to part ways….when the time comes and let someone else fall in love with it.”


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“Photography is a love affair with life.” Burk Uzzle, 1938

One of the mediums that have become increasingly collectable in recent years is photography. Historically considered inferior to art regarding price and as such is a fantastic place to start your collection. This trend has changed over the past few years as collectors have become more educated in turn raising artists’ profiles, this medium remains an emerging market – bringing with it the excitement of untapped potential that many collectors crave. Remember: by investing in early-career photographers, you’re investing in the future of the medium.

What type of photograph is it?

From the almost extinct Polaroid to the digitally manipulated or even C-type, photographs vary considerably. Understanding the differences between these mediums and how they are developed will help you make a better end decision.

What does Limited Edition or AP mean?

Art’s commercial value stems from its rarity, but photography is inherently easy to reproduce. The limited edition has been developed to deal with this problem. It’s essentially a pledge by the photographer or their estate that no more than a certain number of prints of a given image will be made – ever. An edition can be anything from two to 500 or more. The fewer prints in the edition, the higher their worth.

The letters AP signify that the artist has elected to reserve a number of proofs for their personal use. These will be in addition to the overall number of prints detailed in the ‘limited edition’ figure.

Is it a one off?

Occasionally and if you are lucky enough, artists will offer unique photographs or ‘one-offs’. These are usually highly prized with this being reflected in the price.


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How you arrange your collection is entirely up to you and the wall space you have available. Here are some tips to help you maximise the impact of your artwork. 

Pride of Place:

Usually, the finest works of a collection are placed in the most significant areas of the home. Above the fireplace or in the dining room, the more striking pieces are typically found in the areas used for entertaining.


Hallways are a great place to show off your collection. Opting to hang on one side helps to create a widening effect on the passage. Similarly, mirrors can be added to increase the viewpoints and enhance the overall arrangement.


As the most intimate area of the house, this should be reserved for the pieces that you truly love. Equally, the choice of artwork should promote a calming and tranquil atmosphere – think ethereal photography, abstract paintings in dusty pastels or large scale landscapes.


Whether you choose to do this by size, medium, palette or artist is a question of taste and desired intent. A centralised theme creates a coherence between the pieces, adding more impact to the space. Similarly, the content can be used to tell a story, and adds a further layer of detail.

These elements, when properly considered and executed, can help transform your home into a space which not only reflects your individuality but can also add a significant impact on your wellbeing. Art should alway be seen as an extension of the overall interior design, and a finely curated collection will elevate your home to its maximum potential.