I am often asked by clients and prospective clients how art consultants work with interior designers and “how that works”. The best answer to that question is that everything depends upon what each client wants.
There are some designers who love to work with art consultants and would prefer to outsource the art purchasing component of their projects than to struggle through the vast art world about which they are not experts. In this situation the designer will often hire the consultant and tell the consultant what the works of art should convey. In these cases the consultant may never meet the client at all, or the art consultant and designer may work hand-in-hand with each working directly with the client.
Some clients, true art collectors, understand that decorating and art collecting are two different things. Oftentimes an art consultant will choose a work of art with a client with no involvement on the part of the designer. Similarly, art consultants are not normally involved with the layout and design scheme of a home or a specific room.
Other people who may be newer to art collecting but have established relationships with their interior designers wish to have their designers be more involved in the process of art buying or collecting. This client might ask, for example, that the art consultant meet with his/her interior designer to get a sense of the overall design scheme for the space or to get a better sense of the client’s taste. While these types of meetings can be helpful I have found time and time again that it is best for clients to go shopping for artwork and to visit galleries and art fairs with their art consultant or their designer but not both — it is difficult to have too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. The truth is that this can be a difficult situation if the designer feels that he/she could be making the art selections. It is important that the client understand that art collecting and decorating are two different processes and the professionals in each field approach purchasing works of art and placing them in a home (or in a collection) very differently.
There is a system that can work for each client and situation. The key is for the client to clearly identify the various service providers’ roles.