Collections are an important component of decorating. They can give even the most bland decor a point of view. Actually, here is something most designers know: Collections show best in what most homeowners would consider a bland interior design. Think about it. Museums and galleries alike look for a neutral space or an all-white space in order to shift the focus to the art, not the particulars of a room.
Back to the art of collecting. Some say that their collection of a particular item or artist is because they LOVE the item or the message or the technique of a work of art. Well, this is partly true. Many collect because they identify with a particular form of expression, color or information that an artist is trying to communicate. Collectors generally become quite knowledgeable about whatever it is they are collecting. Some try to forge friendships with the artists or craftsmen, or whoever is considered the authority on a work of art, as a means to gain more knowledge about their collection.
There are those who are guided by their educated eye, and there are those who collect on a whim or because something catches their attention. Even though there is an emphasis on accumulating a certain item and a pride in ownership, most collectors, even myself, find a great thrill in the hunt. For many collectors, the process of going out and scouring shops, galleries and estate sales, finding a work of art, and then classifying and authenticating it is the ultimate satisfaction.
Antique dealers and pickers (people who spot items for dealers) also succumb to the game of collecting, even if their ultimate purpose is to resell the find. In many aspects, collecting is like hunting, sans the carnal damage to any living creature of God.
Displaying your collection is also a part of the game. For those with a spare bedroom or garage, storing the works or items is easier, as you can choose what to bring into your home and selectively use them to decorate your space. Some collectors use their objet d’art throughout their home, placing some items in each room. Others with more limited space have to use every inch of wall or floor space to be able to display their collections. As most collectors lean toward being creative types, some rotate their collections to keep their interiors fresh with the periodic shifting of displays.
There are many factors in exhibiting a collection. First and foremost is the safety of the item — safety from being knocked down or protection from elements such as humidity, light or changes in temperature. Once these basic issues have been taken care of, how to display the item comes into play. Does the item have to be framed or encased in a glass vitrine or plexiglass box? Can the item stand on its own on a shelf or a pedestal?
Your collection can and should be lived with and enjoyed. It is not merely an investment but an extension of your taste and style, and as such, it should mix with your furniture. As an expression of an idea, the art should not be treated as decoration and made to match any wall, sofa or color palette. Always display your collection with a bit of bravado or courage. In the end, it should celebrate your hunting instincts, the same as any trophy.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla.