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How to Install and Display Artwork


We spoke with Principal and Chief Creative Officer, Francis Nicdao and Design Director Jessica Iwaniec about how they work with art in the home. They offered their expertise in this exclusive interview.

Uptown Eclectic - Pembrooke & Ives - Eclectic eat-in kitchen nook with bench seating, hexagonal...
Uptown Eclectic, Photography by Genevieve Garruppo
Pembrooke & Ives Leadership, Francis Nicdao

How do you approach coordinating an entire art collection throughout a home?

Francis Nicdao: We are fortunate to collaborate with art consultants in most of our projects. We review the collection together with the client and determine which pieces will go where. Then, we’ll draw everything in an elevation to confirm we are happy with the scale and the placement. We try to give each piece ample space to stand on its own and afford it the respect it deserves. It’s an extensive process that is carefully planned and considered and can involve many iterations to get it right.

Pembrooke & Ives Leadership, Jessica Iwaniec

What do you consider when choosing a frame? 

Jessica Iwaniec: We factor in the materials and colors of both the space and the piece of artwork. For example, if there is brass hardware in a space, we may incorporate brass into some of the details of the frame. The frame’s thickness matters too. The goal is to choose a frame that doesn’t detract from the artwork, but enhances it, whether that’s a thick or thin frame is entirely up to the piece encased in it.

What are some other aspects of displaying artwork to consider?

JI: Where appropriate, I love using a thick mat to surround the art in the frame. If the art has texture or thickness, the piece can float within a plexiglass box. Canvases tend to be more challenging to frame and are sometimes best left unframed.

FN: We try to light the artworks as much as possible, particularly works on canvas, photography and sculptures. We take into account both the natural light of the room and ambient lighting. If a work is color-rendering dependent, then the lighting source will have to take that into consideration. All solutions for art lighting are very much custom to the spaces and the feel we are trying to create in the room.

Uptown Eclectic - Pembrooke & Ives - Eclectic living room design with modern art and colorful accents....
Uptown Eclectic, Photography by Genevieve Garruppo

How do you go about commissioning a piece of art for a client? How do you manage that process?

FN: As mentioned, we often work with art consultants particularly with commissioned pieces. We initially weigh in on scale and placement. Whenever asked, we share the layout and materials in the room for context, but we always encourage the client to understand what they admire about the artist’s point of view and technique. This way, they can allow the artist properly express themselves in the work.


Do you speak to the artist when framing their artwork? 

JI: If it is a piece that we commissioned, we work very closely with the artist to make sure their design intent is being met and that they are satisfied with the final presentation. For more well-known pieces, it is sometimes helpful to reference how museums and galleries have treated the framing of similar work from the artist.

Are there challenges with existing art collections?

JI: In many of our projects, we work with existing collections that we must embrace and integrate into the design. The design of the home should have a synergy with the style of the art, so sometimes we make decisions based on the collection. One of the challenges we can run into is when a collector of more classical art wants a modern space. It is our role as designers to take this into consideration and make everything work together.


Is there a particular piece that was the most memorable to work with?

JI: For our Leonard Street project, the client had an amazing art collection. We custom built many spaces throughout the home to accommodate the collection, for example building niches to fit specific pieces, and so encasing them perfectly to be displayed. It was very rewarding to see the installation come to life.

In the Uptown Eclectic living room, rather than planning the art placement ahead of the home’s renovation, we placed the art in a very organic way, locating it according to a more visceral feeling of where it felt like it belonged. This was a fun and creative approach to working with the art.

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