Interior Design is an art form. That isn’t a controversial statement – it’s a way of using colour and shape and texture to express a point of view, therefore it is art. As with all art, it can be commercialised and turned into a money-making venture, but that doesn’t change the fact that every time someone works to design a room, they are engaged in artistic expression.
What is unfortunate is how often people play it safe when designing a room. You can, through diligence and hard work, create a room design that is pleasant, balanced, and absolutely boring. In fact, you can find examples of this sort of idea-free pleasant design in most hotel rooms – but at least those designs are purposefully dull. When people put those same generic principles into play in their own homes, it’s a huge shame – especially when the judicious use of a few pieces of interesting art is all that’s needed to transform a design from dull to distinctive.
The Purpose of Art
Pieces you might describe as ‘weird art’ are usually embodiments of what art is all about – or should be about. In other words, it:
- Challenges – it takes the familiar and transforms it in disturbing ways we find horrifying or unattractive at first, but this juxtaposition of the strange and the familiar is also powerful.
- Transforms – weird art isn’t about replicating reality perfectly, it’s about transformation. Consider the examples in our Gothic Art collection – their power stems from the familiar patterns that explode in unexpected ways.
- Beautifies – contemporary or weird art also embraces a colour palette that is often overlooked. Standard, generic wall art frequently stays in a very bright colour palette. These pieces embrace darker palettes, which gives you more flexibility in your overall design.
The reason modern art and photography skews so far into the ‘weird’ territory has a lot to do with our modern ability to capture and view reality. When people were typically trapped in their local area and unable to visualise much beyond their immediate surroundings, there was a premium on realistic depictions – portraits and landscapes were expected to hue very close to reality.
In the modern day, however, photography, video, the Internet and other communication technologies have combined to offer just about everyone a clear view of reality all over the world. We can see how people live in different societies, what different climates and animals look like, and famous personages are easily identified and captured in images.
The result is an urge to augment that reality, an urge which has been turned into a commodity. The strange in the art and photography world of today is an attempt to comment on reality and the world around us in ways that technology simply cannot do.
Weird Art = Modern
Given history is filled with examples of weird or odd pieces of art, this is not a new phenomenon. One glance at the works of Hieronymus Bosch, for example, demonstrates that this sort of off-centre art has been in existence for centuries.
However, the weird has a very modern and contemporary feel to it. Consider this collection of contemporary photography: the ‘weirdness’ of these pieces stems not from their subject matter, but from the treatment the subjects receive. This is a combination of different techniques:
- Lighting and composition are frequently rule-breaking and disturbing in subtle ways, including having the true focus of the photo be off-centre, tilted or ‘Dutch’ angles inviting you to see the world in unexpected ways. Dim lighting is frequently embraced as an artistic method of obscuring details.
- Post-processing is used to give photos a dream-like or even nightmarish quality, augmenting reality. The more subtle these effects are, the more powerful they can be, as the mind subconsciously detects the strangeness of the image but can’t always process it consciously right away.
Embracing the Strange
To use the off-beat in your design plans, remember that you can use darker colour palettes – or use brighter, more contrasting colour palettes for more drama.
Consider image themes – look again at our collection of contemporary images. Notice the repetition of faces, or tunnels, or open doors and windows? These can be easily themed to create powerful and affecting wall art installations that tell a story and engage the curiosity and imagination of guests in ways that more reality-based art cannot.
The weird is a celebration of the imagination. It may not be for everyone, but when used thoughtfully it can create amazing interior designs that subtly undermine people’s understanding of the world and make them question what they see. Surely the ultimate achievement for any art, whether it be painting, photography – or interior design. Embrace the strange, and your decor will soar.