For the super collectors like Budi Tek, Guan Yi, and Wang Wei and Liu Yiqian, the way to house your collection is to build a private museum. For the more casual collector, the home is where the art is. We looked at inspirational homes to discover how the tastemakers merged art and design into their lives.
Too many people fall into the trap where they feel the compelling need for everything in the house to match. While it works in some cases, a tastefully eclectic melting pot of interior elements is the hallmark of a sophisticated, well-travelled, and confident resident’s home.
A playground of art
Art world maven Pearl Lam is well known for her flamboyant interior decorating tastes. In her penthouse in Savile Row, London, her unique eye for colours and objects, honed by years of voracious art collecting, rises to the fore. The word eclectic doesn’t even begin to describe the explosion of drama that dominates Lam’s penthouse, to actually inspect and admire every aspect of her accumulated wares would take days.
The Hong Kong-born socialite and gallerist is one of the most colourful characters on the global art scene and Pearl Lam’s Savile Row penthouse is a shrine to art and design (her personal philosophy is to not segregate the two).
Home away from home
Multi-talented Yue-Sai Kan has a long list of titles on her CV. Whether you know her as the award-winning television host, or the entrepreneur, author, or fashion icon, she’s arguably one of the most recognisable faces in China. With homes across the world – Beijing, Shanghai, Rio, Brisbane, New York – Yue-Sai uses recurring motifs in her abodes to help her feel at home no matter where she is. One of these recurring elements is the Buddha, of which she has collected many statues from all over Asia, with statues from Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and China adorning her living spaces.
Yue-Sai’s stylish Shanghai apartment is designed for entertaining, and is the home she finds herself spending the most time in. The decor of this apartment draws influences from many different locations and cultures; Burmese sculptures and Indonesian fossil table, French candelabras and Greek pattered floors… her home is a reflection of her careful balancing of her Chinese culture with international leanings, accumulated through years of travel and collection.
A playboy’s den
If you’re looking for great design inspiration, where better to turn to than the home of one of the greatest designers of the 20th century – Carlo Mollino. Casa Mollino is located in Via Napione in Turin, Italy, and is a potent testimony to the life and aesthetics of the great Italian designer. The apartment’s rooms are like a museum to Mollino’s many obsessions; although he trained as an architect, he was also an engineer and sportsman, photographer and fetishist. Freed from financial pressure by his family’s wealth, Mollino’s pickiness with his projects meant that only a few survive today. Freed from the constraints of family life, he was able to follow his passions on a whim.
Fittingly, Casa Mollino is a playboy’s lair, a collector’s cavern, and partly an elaborate tomb modelled on the death rites of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. Indeed, Casa Mollino furnished one room; the one he intended to die in, with a lavish 19th century bed shaped like a boat placed on a blue carpet – his boat to the afterlife. Unfortunately for the designer, he died in his studio of a sudden heart attack in 1973, but his death chamber survives to this day.
In the rest of the apartment, the seductive decor served the purpose of an alluring backdrop to one of the Mollino’s favourite pastimes; taking Polaroids of naked women. In addition to shrines of his own eccentricities, Casa Mollino filled his apartment with examples of the best furniture designs of the age. In the dining room sits a full set of Eero Saarinen’s tulip chairs, just metres away from a Le Corbusier LC4 Chaise Lounge.
Fresh and modern
LA-based fashion designer John Eshaya’s light and fun bungalow is a great example of how classic design and art can come together to create a stylish yet comfortable home. The interior design of the place is a reflection of the designer’s ability to stay relevant with the times, having gone through various iterations between settling down to its current pop-art infused persona. Rightly proud of his collection, particularly of his original Warhols and Takashi Murakamis, these paintings take pride of place in his home.
However, rather than banish relics of his previous decorating forays, Eshaya instead re-purposes select items to display, creating an eclectic look filled with personality. Balinese temple statues sit alongside Eero Saarinen chairs and Herb Ritts photographs, and not a single one feels out of place. That’s the key to a good collector’s home.
A Display of History
The stately home aesthetic is one that’s very much sought after, but out of any historical context, at what point does your collection of the elaborate furniture, figurines, and oil paintings step past the boundary from noble to convoluted? Houghton Hall in Norfolk, England, home to David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, is an excellent example of how living in a stately home doesn’t have to feel like living in a museum.
Built in the 18th century, Houghton Hall is a truly magnificent house; you can see the artistry and attention to detail of the finest craftsmen of the time in the decoration of each room in the estate. Houghton Hall was once home to part of Sir Robert Walpole (England’s first Prime Minister)’s great picture collection which was sold off in 1779 to Catherine the Great of Russia as payment of the estate’s accumulated debt. The collection contained such masters as Van Dyck, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
Nonetheless, Houghton Hall still maintains a sizeable collection of notable classical paintings and marble Roman busts that the owners proudly display around their home. While some would balk at the thought of so many classical paintings hanging on the same wall, the high ceilings, understated furniture, and exposed wood floors give the room an almost bohemian air.