The rising popularity of Asian art and design, largely driven by the Chinese art market, has caused the prices of high quality, rare pieces to skyrocket. Last year, a number of these highly anticipated Asian art auctions took place , featuring exquisite porcelain table screens, expressive tomb figures, jade carvings, scroll paintings, and delicate snuff bottles.
Perhaps you were one of the many perusing these sales, or maybe you snagged a unique treasure of your own, like this pair of flowery Chinese blue and white open vases from the Qing dynasty.
They radiate more traditional motifs and blend striking, bold blues in a way that demands a showcased spot in your home.
To help best accentuate a piece of Asian art in any room, try incorporating complementary elements of modern Asian design, says Shirley Strom, interior designer and co-owner of S&K Interiors in St. Louis. We sought out Strom and other designers to get their insider advice.
1) Choose neutral backdrops to accentuate, not detract from, your focal artwork.
When you have an ornamental vase or an item whereby you’re accentuating its shape and color, “it’s best to keep the background neutral,” says Jenny Hones, owner of Three Frogs Design and blogger at AsianLifestyleDesign. “Remember that the surrounding area affects how we perceive the object.”
But do try to pick up colors in your item, like the above rare vase, to accentuate it, says Strom. “You can add pops of color to bring out reds or turquoise with, for example, a pillow.”
2) Create balance with contrasting colors and textures.
When finding a place for something like a Ming-style bronze censer, keep the idea of balance in mind. Contrast and therefore harmonize textures and colors in the room. The statue, with its bold color and intricately incised floral scroll pattern, might work best in a room filled with more hushed tones and smoother surfaces, like neutral woods, glass, or tile.
3) Keep a natural aesthetic with organic elements.
Adding potted plants like bamboo or rattan, natural fragrances or water further adds complementary surroundings, playing up the natural themes commonly found in Asian art. Using natural fabrics or building materials like river rock pebbles may also further create a sense of human-nature connection.
4) Pick modern and minimal furniture to maintain harmony.
Choose pieces that are symmetrical and sleek. What does that mean? “Just about anything that’s low and streamlined, the definition of modern furniture,” says Strom. Beds, tables, and chairs should have straight, simple, clean-cut lines.
Minimalism, now a more popular Asian design aesthetic, is also key – try removing any unnecessary untidiness from the room. That will put more of the spotlight, for example, on a pair of jade elephants you may want to show off.
5) Bring sunlight into the room to emphasize peace and open space.
Large windows allow for enough natural light to give the room its finishing touches. Leave enough open space around furniture and décor, letting light reach as many corners as possible. One of the most common mistakes people make, says Strom, is that they go over the top, ending up more “amusement park” than minimalist.
“Beautiful art should be enjoyed, but often we have too many things and they get lost in the clutter,” adds Hones. “Remember to leave ‘breathing room’ around your object.”
Mixing traditional Asian values with modern design elements serves a purpose beyond spotlighting your art. The right colors, materials, furniture, and lighting can also emphasize feelings of serenity and comfort. Set forth in your pursuit of Asian art and design with a principal goal: to bring greater meaning to your space.