x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

House Doctor: With art, a house becomes a home

Find objects that are drawn to each individual, whatever form it takes. Acquire pieces that have personal appeal. Display the work with enthusiasm.

The role of art in our homes is important. It reflects our interests and our personal style, provides meaningful focal points and can be considered the finishing element in our homes. The definition of art can be rather broad, and may include framed pieces hung on the wall, 3D sculptures, original works, prints, posters, photographs, rugs, furniture, decorative items and many other sources.

Many clients are upfront at the start of a project, claiming they don't have a budget for art. They think acquiring art for their home can only entail a large outlay of capital. My response is to ask what constitutes art?

In my own home I have original pieces, prints, posters and a large wall filled with a great number of items from my travels. I have work I did myself, work displayed in inexpensive frames from Ikea, found objects, books, glassware, textiles, rugs and furniture, that to me are all forms of artistic expression. This unique collection is displayed in my apartment as if the space were my personal gallery.

I use furniture as sculpture, on which I have placed books that add to the uniqueness of the composition. One wall of my bedroom is filled with dozens of frames of all shapes, sizes and finishes, which display postcards from my travels, drawings, photographs, souvenirs from cities visited, pages from magazines, art from galleries and even a menu from a small cafe in Paris. All of these items have meaning for me and offer reminders of past experiences. During a recent conversation I had with Sir Paul Smith, the fashion designer, he spoke about the importance of being surrounded at home and work by art, as it provides inspiration, serenity, calmness and excitement.

My advice is to find objects that are drawn to each individual, whatever form it takes. Acquire pieces that have personal appeal. Display the work with enthusiasm. Place objects where they will be enjoyed and appreciated frequently.

Remember, artwork does not have to come from the same period to be presented together. An eclectic mix of styles, movements and mediums brings a sense of sophistication to a room or space. Artwork is a tool for personalising and decorating a living space and can be moved to a future location. Of course, it's never too late to start collecting.

Just like style and fashion, each individual should find pieces that provide personal enjoyment and excitement. Ultimately, the artwork we choose to display in our homes becomes an expression of ourselves.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.