Custom framed art and interior design go hand in hand, and no one knows this quite like interior designer Alyssa Kapito. Known for creating chic, bespoke interiors full of beautiful textures and unique details, Alyssa’s work has been featured by the likes of Architectural Digest, Vogue, and The New York Times.
We were thrilled when Alyssa found time in her super busy schedule (she’s currently working on several major renovations, and her first furniture line debuts this September!) to participate in our Meet the Experts Breakfast series at MoMA Design Store in Soho. During the event, we asked her a few questions about art, design, and combining the two. Keep reading for some of her expert advice.
Alyssa doing what she does best, as captured by Kirsten Francis for a special collaboration with Sotheby’s.
Simply Framed: We’re obviously huge fans of your interior design style, and especially of the way you seamlessly incorporate art into your spaces. What are your top interior design tips?
Alyssa Kapito: I think the most important thing—especially if you don’t have a background in interior design—is to take inspiration from things you’ve seen before, that you love. Save images that inspire you—a beautiful magazine spread, an image on Pinterest. Follow and learn from people you respect. If you love something that someone else has done, find a way to repurpose that idea in your own home.
Not every piece in your home needs to be a big-ticket designer investment. If you love the form of a designer piece and find something “inspired by” at a more affordable price, go for it. Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s so much easier to find an affordable version. I frequently turn to Etsy to find incredibly talented, independent designers. Someone once asked me, if they gave me a thousand dollars to furnish an apartment, what would I do? I immediately said, “Etsy!”
Another tip is to remember the importance of accessories. I think oftentimes, people will buy the big things—the sofa, the coffee table, a chair—and then think they’re done. But the most interesting elements in interior design are always the details—a vase that has a unique form, or (of course) custom framed art.
Alyssa’s signature design style is all about the details—and attention-grabbing custom-framed art.
SF: Your art background and knowledge definitely come through in your designs, and you do such a great job of bringing in pieces—furniture, objects, etc.—that are works of art themselves, so the art isn’t just on the walls. What is your process like for choosing art for your interiors?
AK: It really depends on the project. Sometimes the client will have a few pieces or a lot of pieces already. Sometimes they don’t have any art and we get to source it all for them. That’s really fun but can also be a long process. We work a lot with auction houses, dealers, and galleries.
I think it’s so important to find the right art for a space. You don’t want to spend a ton of time and money on magnificent furniture, and then have the art be an afterthought. You want the two to elevate one another. I really appreciate the symbiotic relationship between art and interior design, and it’s something that is frequently overlooked. A designer will hire an art consultant, but the two don’t communicate, so the final result doesn’t feel as cohesive as it should.
I’m also a huge proponent of furniture and accessories as art. Phillips, the Wright Galleries, Sotheby’s, Christie’s—all the major auction houses—have interior design departments, and they’re rising in prominence to offer their own sort of art that is just as important as what’s on your walls.
A prime example of Alyssa’s “furniture as art” philosophy, as seen in the March issue of House Beautiful. Photo by Joshua McHugh.
SF: Speaking of walls, what’s your framing style? Do you have a favorite type of frame, or a favorite piece of art that you’ve had custom framed?
AK: I do have a favorite framing style! I love a light-colored wood frame in a natural finish—usually oak, sometimes ash or maple—with a complementary spline, and a slightly off-white or ivory mat. Of course, it depends on the piece, but that’s my go-to combination.
My favorite piece of art that I’ve had custom framed is a tiny photograph by Chuck Close—he’s one of my favorite artists—that has traveled with me to every home I’ve ever lived in. I love it. I’ll never sell it. It’s my favorite thing.
Alyssa and our founder, Dara Segal, at MoMA Design Store in Soho.
Do you have a piece of art in need of a frame? Get started at Simplyframed.com—and for some serious interior design inspiration, visit AlyssaKapito.com to see some of Alyssa’s past projects, and learn more about her background and process.