Category Archives: Lobby Interior Design

How to Pick Art for a Room That Complements Your Interior Design

 

“How do we choose the perfect art pieces for the design of this space?”

I get this question a lot. With my residential clients choosing art is a piece of cake because most of them already own art they love. When more is needed I help them find pieces that fit perfectly into the spaces I’m creating for them.

But with my other clients, coop and condo residents making decisions about lobby and hallway re-dos, the process is a bit trickier. Can you imagine trying to achieve consensus on something as personal as art with a group of people who have differing tastes – and very strong opinions?

(You can view some of our recent projects and the art we chose at the end of this blog post.)

Through trial and error I have created a process that makes picking art to complement the interior design of public spaces such as lobbies and hallways, that results in gorgeous, functional rooms – and very happy residents.

Tips on How to Choose the Perfect Art Piece for your Interior Design

Decorate around art.

Knowing how to decorate around art is an important skill to develop. For example, a wonderful painting can be the focal point around which your furniture is placed, instead of the other way around, and will help guide you in your choices of paint and accessories. Using art this way adds texture, interest, and will give your rooms a finished look.

But how to choose?

Art is everywhere and ideas are, too. Before you purchase anything, I recommend you get out there and really look at art. You might think the best place to get ideas are museums, and in New York City where I live, there’s a plethora to choose from. But museums are filled with art and nothing but art. You need to look at art where there are furniture and accessories, too.

How to Decorate With Art: Look for inspiration in unexpected places.

To get inspiration on art for your interior design visit places where you wouldn’t normally go specifically to look at art. For example, your favorite fine restaurant. It’s entirely possible you’ve eaten dinner fifty times at the same establishment, but never really looked at the artwork in the room.

So, make a reservation, sit down, order a glass of wine, and take a look around the room with fresh eyes. See if you can answer these questions: Why did the restaurant designer choose each particular piece? Why is it placed in that particular spot? What kind of emotion does it evoke? How does the artwork impact the room? Does it set the tone for the vibe of the restaurant? Is it disruptive – or does it harmonize with the décor?

A hotel lobby is another great place to find inspiration on decorating with art. Hotel designers invest a lot of time to select the perfect paintings, photography and sculpture. Most hotels have no problem if you want to hang out in the lobby, too.

Of course, one of the best ways to get inspiration on how to pick art for your rooms is your computer. The internet is bursting with ideas on how to choose art to enhance the décor of a room.

There are thousands of boards on Pinterest containing every type of interior design idea. In fact, my residential clients use it all the time to visualize their rooms. Some even create their own boards and share them with me. On Pinterest you’ll find images with art pieces used in every way possible – as focal points, to set the tone, to influence the arrangement of furniture, and to enhance the interior architecture.

(Another great online resource for design and art ideas is Houzz.)

It’s One of Our Most Important Skills – The Know-How to Decorate With Art

My office receives a lot of work as a New York City apartment building lobby and hallway design firm. Picking the right art is one of the most important discussions we have with our clients. We have many important decisions to make, from floor materials, to furniture, to signage – but the perfect artwork is what ties the whole design together. It’s like the bow on a gift box.

For public spaces such as the lobbies and hallways we design, there are some rules we must follow: Artwork cannot contain faces or figures. It can’t be religious or political. We stay away from edgy and extremely contemporary art. (We never want to hear “Why, I could have painted that myself!”).

We look for art that is as uncontroversial as possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s boring!

Here’s What Our Process of Picking Art Looks Like

During initial meetings with our clients, we present pictures of the style of art we want to recommend. We source the web, pull tear sheets from magazines, and compile photos of some previous projects. We feel it’s very important that our clients – the people who’ll be walking through the lobby every single day, to understand our choices and appreciate the feeling we want to achieve.

Sometimes we’ll recommend art to be a focal point and use the furniture as accessories. Sometimes it’s the other way around. No two buildings are alike and no two coop/condo boards are alike, therefore, no two projects are alike.

We’ve become so good at this process that we usually get consensus pretty quickly. That’s the result of having designed hundreds of New York City lobbies!

Something that really sets us apart is the fact that we have incredible resources to work with. We have a wonderful relationship with an amazing art consultant named Marlaina Deppe of Novo Arts. Marlaina has a crew of full-time artists who can work in any style and in any medium. Whatever idea I bring to her, she can supply me with a wide selection of samples to show my clients. Over the years Marlaina’s crew has created photographs, graphics, wall sculptures, mosaics, collages, and even wood cutouts for my clients. (http://novoarts.com/)

One of my other go-to resources is a super-talented New York photographer named Alyssa Peek. Alyssa’s unique work blurs the line between art and photography. I often choose her photographs to elicit emotions such as serenity, peace, excitement, or surprise – without being overt. (http://peekphotography.nyc/peek-photo-art/)

Another resource we are lucky to have, especially for pre-war buildings and high end residential projects, is our favorite framer – J. Pocker Custom Frames & Prints. J. Pocker’s distinctive frames are works of art themselves and their craftsmanship is incomparable. They also carry a vast selection of prints in subject matter that speaks to the more traditional of our clients (see the classical landscape plans below). J. Pocker has been in business in New York City since 1926 – it’s an experience just to visit their showroom! (https://www.jpocker.com/).

Helping my clients choose the perfect art piece is truly one of the joys of being an interior designer. Art is an integral part of our designs and I’m happy to say we’ve never been called back to a building to replace the art.

I guess we’re doing something right!

Thanks for slogging through my explanation! Now enjoy some examples of how we use art in interior design projects:

Using Mirror as Art. The overall scheme of this Upper West Side lobby and hallway project is Central Park. We commissioned a high end mirror manufacturer to create this one-of-a-kind “twig” mirror.

Art As A Focal Point. The focal point of this doorman/concierge desk area is a painting that is geometric, vibrant, and classic. The building’s decorating committee joined me at my art consultant’s studio and made this selection. It’s an example of non-controversial (yet important) art that everyone agreed on.

Unexpected Materials. Here you see a backlit slab of onyx used as an art piece. Yes, it’s a slab of stone! It’s classic, natural, organic, original, and will withstand the test of time. I think of it as gift from Mother Nature.

Residential Art

Photo Art. For a residential project we chose this large scale photo art piece by Alyssa Peek (http://peekphotography.nyc/peek-photo-art/) to create a peaceful and soothing statement just outside a master bedroom suite.

Hallway Painting

Old-World Drawings. We used old-world landscape plans and had them custom sized, colored, and framed by J. Pocker (https://www.jpocker.com/). Then we had them uniquely installed to make statement in this Upper East Side pre-war lobby. This is an example of art that is non-controversial, yet really interesting.

Thank you for reading!

Marilyn

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A Gallery Of Beautiful Apartment Building Signage

Have you ever paused at a street corner to think to yourself, “why does a stop sign look like that?” This may come across as a weird question at first. After all, we follow stop signs every day, what’s more, to know? However, a stop sign has more going on than you may think. Its sharp red color shows oncoming traffic when to hit the brakes; its reflective coating makes it easy for nighttime drivers to pinpoint its location in the dark, and its unique octagonal shape is designed to alert drivers (facing the back of the sign) of oncoming traffic’s impending stop at an intersection.

As an interior designer, I am admittedly somewhat obsessed with signs. But the signs I’m obsessed with are indoors and serve some very mundane functions, such as informing you what floor you’re on, or what to do in case of a fire, or which direction to turn when you get off an elevator. The choice of signage (fonts, materials, placement) is an important part of residential lobby interior design and hallway interior design.

 I must admit, designing interior signage is one of my favorite parts of a project. When all the other design decisions have been made, it’s fun to design them. I don’t think anyone has ever written a blog before about apartment building interior signage designs, so this may be a first.

My personal gallery of beautiful apartment building signage

 

1) 140 East 56th Street, Manhattan

Building SIgnage ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The period typeface “Neutra” (named for the modernist architect Richard Neutra) was perfect for this midtown Manhattan mid-century modern building built in 1956. The emphasis here is on the apartment line, which presents larger than the floor number (kind of sexy, right?) To emphasize this fun juxtaposition even further, the chocolate brown door is layered with a lighter oiled bronze metal etched around the border, so you have the dark door, a light border, and a dark field behind the lettering.

Also, “Neutra” just sounds cool.

2) 1230 Park Avenue, Manhattan

Top Door Signage designs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



This Upper East Side Carnegie Hill 1930 pre-war has an exquisite lobby encrusted with molded plasterwork on its ceilings and walls, marble and terrazzo floors, and luscious paneled doors. Our task was to provide signage designs and hardware that indicate the stairwells but fit beautifully into the elegant interior design.

 In this case, we chose a classic serif font for the letters (Times New Roman) and mounted them over the lovely period-style door hardware. The effect is super luxurious and gets the job done.

 

3) Holland House – Forest Hills, Queens


For the Holland House, we used some of the original advertising materials that were created when the building first opened in 1929. We were able to match the font (“California”) and it perfectly fits in with the lobby interior design. You can see it on the sign on the right-hand side in this image.

Here’s something really cool, too! The building originally had floor indicator signs above each elevator. But when the elevators were renovated, the indicator signs were removed. We gave them a new life and today when residents and guests step out of the elevator they are greeted by the old elevator indicator, which is set to the floor they’re on. We also matched the apartment “wayfinding” letters and arrows with the same font and material that leads visitors to the right apartment in style.

 

4) The Endicott – 101 West 81st Street, Manhattan

Door and Laundry Room Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this 1900 pre-war building’s proximity to Central Park, the residents requested that we find a way to bring the verdant lushness of the park right into the building. We found lots of ways to do this in our work as NY lobby interior designers and NY hallway interior designers but when it came to the signage design, we had to make a decision. How could we keep the signage from overtaking the delicate interior design elements we had created?

The answer was to use a weathered and antiqued aluminum, which looks like real silver for most of the signage design. On each floor, we hung a simple rectangular mirror framed in aluminum. The text looks like it’s sandblasted into the glass, but it’s actually a custom designed decal! The simple yet elegant “Palatino” font was a perfect choice here.

At The Endicott even the laundry room sign is distinctive. We stayed true to the overall design again with the horizontal shape and white lettering in “Palatino”. The striking white line around the perimeter keeps the effect from being stodgy. Note the braille, which is now part of ADA requirements, of which we are experts (we have to be!).

 

5) 45 Sutton Place, Manhattan

Sutton House Interior Design by Sygrove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we chose brush brass for the signage and, despite similarities to signs at The Endicott (they both are brushed metal, use a serif font, and have white borders), the 45 Sutton signs are more traditional in feeling. The font is “Times New Roman” and “ the white border gives it a fresh, up to date look.

6) The Atrium Palace Condominium – Fort Lee, New Jersey


Sygrove Design Fort Lee's The Atrium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We call this sign “balls” because of the tiny balls that are mounted on the top and bottom of the apartment identification signs. Believe it or not, this inspiration came about when I visited the sign factory and saw braille signs they were making. Since the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires that all new signage include braille, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be unique to use the balls as a design motif, too?” Imagine my delight when the residents agreed with me!

 The “balls” eventually became a design motif for the entire renovation project of this large residential building in New Jersey.

 

7) Residential Apartment Building – Upper West Side, Manhattan


Sygrove - NYC Door Signage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sign was designed for a pre-war Upper West Side of Manhattan rental building whose owner really loves his buildings and appreciates quality, too! The signs have some real heft to them. They are 1/8” thick solid polished brass with two etched borderlines and a flower motif, which was inspired by the frieze on the exterior of the building. In this way the building’s distinctive exterior is incorporated into the interior design.

 These signs are affixed to each apartment door and in addition to looking just gorgeous, provide residents with a peephole for security and incorporate their doorbell button, too.

 If this blog makes you start obsessing over interior signage where before you walked past with nary a glance, share them for me. I have a soft spot for lovely fonts and clever design.


— Marilyn

 

 

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