What a Picture

When deciding on a scheme for a room or a property as a whole, it's important to have a starting point — preferably something that inspires or triggers thoughts and emotions. This trigger could be an item of sentimental value, a beloved style of furniture, a specific pattern in a fabric, or a certain colour that will act as the cornerstone for an interior design scheme. Often, however, it's a piece of interior design artwork or photography.

Art, in all its forms, can play a huge role in the design and look of a room. Not only can it act as a practical foundation for ideas, it can also dictate the mood in a home, thereby setting the scene for how the owner anticipates the room to be used. A classic oil painting in a gilt frame teemed with a leather, button-back wingback for example says one thing — a quiet, relaxing atmosphere similar to a gentleman's club. A contemporary portrait of a nude, below which is an original Barcelona chair and a high-tech surround sound system says something totally different.


No one captured this feeling more completely than photographer, Slim Aarons. Beginning his career as an army photographer, he discovered a personal antidote to the devastation of WWII by capturing the picturesque lives of the beautiful. For nearly 50 years, he travelled the world recording the glamorous lives of glamorous people, and his work exudes decadence and indulgence.

A popular choice for high-end interior designers, Aarons' images boast a luxurious and hedonistic feel, through the figures seen basking in the sun, where colours…and life…seems brighter, and definitely more pleasurable.

Picking out the tones and hues from a strong image is a fabulous way to create a sense of cohesion, as are pattern and design, particularly through fabric. But what if you have a penchant for black and white photography?

Monochrome photography exudes sophistication, the suggestion of a bygone era and a time of quality and romance. Contemporary photography however, for example the images by French photographer Jean-Philippe Piter who is known for his Fine Art and Nude shots, can be extremely erotic.

Grouping images, perfectly mounted and framed, from a particular photographer, will create a beautiful, eye-catching focal point, as well as set that all important mood.


For a larger impact, photography, or in this case the front covers of Playboy magazine from the 70s, makes a spectacular gallery, particularly when displayed in a uniform and ordered fashion. Everyone who is anyone, from Marilyn Monroe to Barbra Streisand has appeared in the infamously iconic magazine, the front covers of which are now considered collectors' items. As a group, they evoke a classic, seductive feel as well as a topic of conversation.

In this day and age, when it's actually possible to commission an artist to create an abstract painting to coordinate with the furniture and furnishings in a room, it's refreshing to know that quality images, particularly photographic ones, have lasted the test of time.

Aarons lived by a simple mantra: “I've concentrated on photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” Where better for a quality designer to find inspiration?