Developers have long been aware of the importance of well-chosen artwork, but an increasing number of those operating in the upper price ranges are employing fine and statement pieces over bland backgrounds.
As a prime example, Space, Design & Development has hung this extraordinary £60,000 work by Chris Levine – called ‘the most evocative image of The Queen by any artist’ – on the walls of its newly-renovated £23m Westminster townhouse. The firm’s MD Emma Rickwood explains why….
When creating a show home, one is not simply presenting potential buyers with bricks and mortar, but also giving them a tantalising glimpse of the lifestyle on offer were they to make the house their home.
This is achieved by creating a multi-sensory space, in which the sights, scents and textures of the property are those with which the potential buyers aspire to associate themselves. Top end scented candles, quality cookery books, bespoke soap in the bathrooms and the most luxurious bed linens all must be carefully considered when conjuring up luxury. Aside from these primary considerations, a property’s artwork represents probably the most important feature to be considered, as it has the ability to bring together a room’s decorative look, whilst simultaneously proving one of the most difficult choices in terms of taste.
Old Queen Street, our black brick townhouses on Old Queen Street represent two of the capital’s most luxurious properties. Having been converted into offices, the properties had been reconfigured so that the elegant Georgian dimensions and striking period features had been obscured. We undertook a painstaking renovation to restore the houses to family homes, taking into account both the heritage of the property, its surroundings and the high level of luxurious interior finish required to impress today’s most discerning buyers.
Experts in historic restoration were consulted at every stage of the process, to ensure that all materials used complement the Georgian heritage of the house, with English Heritage consulted to ensure that the correct shade of black was used for the restoration of the bricks.
Internally, the home embodies the epitome of modern luxury. Spread over eight floors, the layout respects the original floor plan whist also allowing for the flexibility of space required by modern families. The finishes have been chosen to offer both comfort and cachet – creating a home for family living as well as lavish entertaining.
When choosing artwork to hang in XXVI, which we dressed as the show home, we wanted to find an artist whose work could bridge the dichotomy between period detail and contemporary luxury. We also felt that the value of the artwork needed to correspond to that of the art collection which one would expect a buyer of a £23million house to possess.
The work of Chris Levine strikes the perfect note for the house. Levine is a pioneer in the field of light art, creating and adapting technology in the pursuit of expansive visual sensations through work that has been referred to as transformational. We were delighted to be given the opportunity to show three of his portraits: Frankel (the iconic race horse) is hung in the study and The Queen from the Front and The Queen from the Back both have taken up residence in the first floor drawing rooms.
The Queen from the Front, kindly lent by the Fine Art Society, is somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek nod to the house’s situation on Old Queen Street, with the Swarowski crystals subtly embedded in the crown complementing the super-luxury interiors. Valued at £60,000, the portrait, described by the National Portrait Gallery as “most evocative image of the Queen ever taken” is available to purchase along with the house, surely a tempting proposition for buyers who can appreciate the unique location of the home between the two seats of British power.
“Surely a tempting proposition for buyers who can appreciate the unique location of the home between the two seats of British power”
Emma Levine, Chris’ wife, is also showing work in the house, with her striking trees bringing warmth and character to the lower ground floor kitchen as well as one of the guest bedrooms.
Show home artwork has moved on dramatically in the past few decades – now representing careful considerations in aesthetic style and projected taste. Using a show home as a gallery renders the properties into interactive spaces which those visiting can engage with as well as simply view. It will interesting to see how the show home space evolves further in the next few years, as developers seek to constantly push the boundaries in redefining luxury.