An important art collection shines in an opulent Art Deco setting.
When a passion for art imbues your client’s life, the interior design mandate is clear: Color and pattern exist purely to enhance the beauty and importance of a blue-chip collection. That was the principle Anne Folsom Smith of Anne Folsom Smith Interior Design followed in recreating the interiors of a downtown condominium for a Sarasota art collector. “The art is the star in this home. We downplayed everything else, subjugating the interior architecture and furnishings to our client’s collection, which is world-class and in every medium from paintings to glass, ceramics and sculpture,” explains Folsom Smith.
The spectacularly long entry hall Folsom Smith crafted by judiciously stealing from other rooms is the pièce de résistance of the residence.
The dramatic gallery setting is impressive. But it is the museum-quality art that takes your breath away. The collection includes Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Lichtenstein paintings as well as an Arnaldo Pomodoro sculpture that’s a reminder of the artist’s work in the Sculpture Garden at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Every piece evokes memories from the homeowner, from her delight in discovering unknown talents who later rocked the art world to bidding wars at international auction houses and galleries.
Actually, Folsom Smith had given the residence its bones eight years ago when the homeowners requested a Country French aesthetic. At that time she carved out the gallery entrance and designed public spaces for maximum enjoyment of this ever-evolving collection. But in late 2011 the homeowner and she launched a year-long journey to redecorate in Art Deco with a hint of Art Nouveau style. “She wanted a completely different look and felt Deco would be a bit edgier with the art,” Folsom Smith explains. “She looked at Art Deco books, tore out pictures from magazines; we shopped together in New York. She was involved in every decision.”
The client wanted to keep the elegant, warm-hearted Country French kitchen crafted by Eurotech Cabinetry and the honed limestone floors (which Folsom Smith’s custom-designed area rugs help transition beautifully to the new décor).
Also left in place was the Eurotech wood built-in separating the living room from the adjacent room, a multipurpose entertaining space featuring a burled wood card table purchased in Italy and a wonderful bar with drop-down TV. The homeowner worked with Light Up Your Life to customize the room’s glass ball pendant fixture. They removed a massive aquarium, instead installing in the cabinetry a commissioned glass piece by the renowned Martin Blank. “He worked closely with me to get the exact colors and arrangement I had imagined,” the owner says.
A sculptural sectional sofa allows art in the living room to command center stage. The rich brown upholstery fabric alludes to the Deco period, but also acts as the perfect foil to Deco-inspired prints used for accent pillows and a custom carpet by Loom of Sarasota, which Folsom Smith designed using elements and colors from sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle’s whimsical piece on the cocktail table. No detail was too small for this client, who worked with Kreissle Forge to design a fire screen of iron and glass in Art Deco geometric forms.
The dining room is a feast for the eyes, inviting guests to contemplate a breathtaking painting by Helen Frankenthaler and a series of original Picasso ceramic plates the client came across at a French gallery. “She also bought the dining room table in Europe. It was too long to fit in the elevator and couldn’t be crated up. We eventually had to remove the elevator ceiling to bring it in,” Folsom Smith says.
A proponent of local sources and artisans, the designer commissioned Glen Krone of Krone’s Kreations in Sarasota to craft the pop-up TV cabinet in the master bedroom and Nathaniel Smelser of Royalcrest Furniture for the room’s desk and nightstands. Colors in the bedroom, which tends toward the oriental branch of Art Deco with a touch of Art Nouveau, are also taken from the art.
“The art in this home is eclectic, giving me the latitude to take the best from a few periods for the furnishings. It’s a fabulous collection, and I don’t think I will have the privilege of working with this kind of priceless art ever again,” Folsom Smith says.
Anne Folsom Smith Interior Design, 330 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota (941) 957-0434
European Marble, 1820 N. Lime Ave., Sarasota (941) 955-9536
Eurotech Cabinetry, 1609 Desoto Road, Sarasota (941) 351-6557
Light Up Your Life, 1620 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 330-0442; Loom Inc., 1681 11th St., Sarasota (941) 365-3346
Jennifer Pace, Grande Illusions, 2316 53rd St., Sarasota (941) 360-0800