Interior designers adapt to digital art

Eric Overholtzer was intrigued by the concept of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, but had trouble figuring it out. So he bought one.

“There were three NFTs in a gallery of Angel Baby and one had this whimsy, so I bought it,” says Overholtzer, an interior designer and custom furniture maker based in Los Angeles.

As NFTs and digital art have taken the art world by storm, the new challenge for NFT collectors is where and how to display their new pieces.

“Even though it’s still moving and a bit frenetic, I find a calming aspect to this piece that’s almost meditative,” says Overholtzer. “I had an aquarium in a loft I owned, and I loved the movement and the glow. It reminds me of that.

Overholtzer placed his digital art in the living room so it would be the first thing anyone sees when they walk into his West Hollywood home. “I live near Sunset Boulevard, so I’m used to the sound and light of the outdoors,” he says. “Right now I leave it on 24 hours a day, but when I travel I can turn it off with a switch.”

Digital art and the luxury real estate market

The rapid adoption of digital art and NFTs over the past year has caught the attention of realtors, builders and home stagers who are always looking for new ways to attract potential buyers.

“The NFTs do not change the scope of the sale, but draw attention to those who might be in the market for a new trophy property and the one-of-a-kind NFT collection that comes with it,” says Mauricio Umansky, CEO. and founder of The Agency, a real estate agency in Los Angeles.

The Agency recently listed the Palazzo di Vista estate in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles for sale for $87.8 million. It features an NFT art gallery curated by MDP Art Curators that includes works by Ghost Girl and music producer BigHead.

Digital art is both a passion and a marketing tool for Phillip Braunstein, art collector and president of Los Angeles-based Colossal Properties, who recently sold a speculative home in Hollywood Hills that includes seven screens of digital art for $14.9 million.

“I’ve always included high-end art installations in the homes I build, so I decided to display some of the 500 NFTs I own in the Hollywood Hills home,” says Braunstein. “What’s different with NFTs is that you can see them on your phone or computer, or you can rotate them on screens. But if you have 500 paintings, most of them will need to be stored .

New York-based ASH Staging is currently acquiring NFTs to install in some of their LA and New York staging projects, says Andrew Bowen, partner and head of staging for ASH, which does high-end staging for model homes and individual sellers, and interior design work.

“I don’t know if digital art will drastically change interior design, but it offers kinetic activity that’s new,” says Overholtzer. “There’s a movement and a flow that’s different from other types of art and you notice something new on a loop, so it’s like you own multiple pieces of art.”

A digital art display that has moving video or is backlit can become a light source in a room. Some screens can be put in night mode.

Pictures of Joe Bryant

Display challenges

When Kipton Cronkite purchased his first NFT, it was an accidental choice to place it in a frame next to the television in his Los Angeles living room.

“I put it there because it needed an outlet and it was a handy place where the cord could be tucked away,” says Cronkite, founder of ArtStager, an art curation and consultancy company. based in Los Angeles. “It turned out perfect because I keep the video on loop and notice it more when I sit down to watch TV, instead of trying to stand and stare at the screen for four hours while ‘it scrolls through the loop.”

Architects and interior designers often consider a homeowner’s art collection to ensure there are appropriate walls or niches and the right lighting to showcase the artwork. . Today, art collections that include digital art likely need dim lighting, an electrical outlet, and Wi-Fi instead of well-lit wall space.

Many NFT owners opt for a frame for their still or video art so that it looks more like physical art rather than displaying it on a screen, Cronkite says.

“If you own multiple NFTs, you can experiment with multiple frames or try a triptych that can display different content from different artists in each section,” Cronkite explains.

Braunstein chose to display some of his NFTs on Netgear’s Meural Canvas frames, which he plugs into a recessed outlet behind the screens.

“Netgear’s software connects to your NFT wallet to verify that you really own the image you want to display,” says Braunstein. “One of the downsides of these screens is that they don’t have sound, so other companies are developing screens that can handle audio files.”

Displaying digital art in direct light isn’t ideal, says Braunstein; one lighting option is to use soft backlighting around and behind the frame to create ambient lighting while highlighting the art, says Cronkite.

A digital art display with moving or backlit video can become a light source in a room, so Bowen cautions that homeowners want to be aware of this impact in a bedroom or other space you don’t want to introduce. too much light . Netgear displays can be always on or placed in night mode, Braunstein explains.

To be creative

Unlike some smaller traditional paintings or sculptures that might be slightly hidden by a lamp or placed on an elaborate credenza, digital art is more likely to be placed in a visible location purely because of its novelty, Bowen says.

“On the other hand, unlike traditional art collectors, some NFT owners don’t exhibit their art at all,” says Bowen. “Some people display them on their computer screen, which basically makes them a very expensive screensaver. But over time, I think we’ll see people get more creative and find ways to incorporate them into mirrors. and even to project them on the walls.

While it’s natural to think of digital art as part of a contemporary home, it’s possible to juxtapose digital images and videos with other types of art in a more traditional home, Cronkite says.

“You can display digital art side-by-side with analog art to complement the aesthetic of both types of artwork,” Bowen explains. “I can see architects finding opportunities to create display areas for digital art in homes in the future.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of penta magazine.

Betty K. Park