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Art in the wild, featuring designer Kate Pearce 🏠

Kate Pearce is more than just a designer, art collector and curator, and vintage hunter: she is an alchemist. Since growing her design business, Kate Pearce Vintage, out of a blog-turned-Etsy-store-turned-IG-account-turned full fledged studio, Kate has captivated the curious minds and hearts of not only her clients, but the scores of people who follow along with her brilliantly executed projects and captivating passions online. We have always been honored to have Kate as a patron, and it was a joy to sit and ask her several questions about art, designing spaces for herself and her clients, curation, and what one piece she would steal—if legally allowed—from the Whitney and the Guggenheim, two of her former places of business. Read on!

1. When and how did you first start to incorporate art curation into your design practice, and what do you love about getting that perfect piece for your clients? 

Art is definitely my first love and my background is in art history, so in many ways, the art came even before the design. I think what I mean by that is, when starting out I would try to entirely design my spaces around my art collection. As I've grown as a designer, I've come to respect the dichotomy between the two: art and design need to speak to each other, while still operating independent of each other. It can be a difficult balance to master. I think what I enjoy so much about finding a perfect piece for my clients is seeing their appreciation for art grow. So many of my clients see art as an adornment for their spaces, and I love showing them that art is so much more than that.

2. When sourcing artwork for clients (from us or out in the world in general), what do you take into consideration when you're showing them pieces?

The first consideration is always budget. It's rare that I have a client with a large art budget, so once we nail down exactly what that budget is, we take it from there. The next step is really understanding their style and art preferences. Oftentimes, they aren't even sure what their art preferences are, so I will often take cues from where the overall design has led us. Unless they already have an established art collection, I almost always choose the art last. I do that so I can come to understand what kind of art they might like through the design process.

3. If you could give one tip to someone starting to collect art for the first time, what would it be?

I think it would depend on what their goals are for their art collection: is it to amass a collection they truly love or is it purely a financial investment? I very much hope, when working with clients, that they will put more stock in the former. For those clients, I would say that art comes in all forms and all price ranges, and that it is very much possible to build an art collection of pieces they love on a budget. I also always tell clients to pick up pieces as they find them, even if they don't have a place for them. Art should be the most personal part of a home's design. It needs to speak to the owner and, if it does, nothing else really matters.

4. You did time at both the Guggenheim and the Whitney before growing your incredible company into what it is today—if you were allowed to (legally) steal one piece from either museum for yourself, what would it be? 

From the Whitney, I would steal Nick Cave's 2009 Soundsuit. I absolutely love Nick Cave's work, and I think sculpture/3-D forms of art are a very underutilized medium in interior design. From the Guggenheim, it would be Louise Bourgeois' Rabbit. Bourgeois' work is not only brilliant, I love how she plowed through the glass ceiling doing work that was so outside the box and so authentic for her time.

5. What is the most satisfying thing about ushering your clients into the world of vintage and antique furnishings, textiles, art and design in general?

I think people are generally really intimidated by the world of art and design, and I think what is most rewarding is showing them that no one has to hand you a ticket and invite you into the club. I come from a blue collar upbringing, with zero previous connections to the art world. I know that intimidation well. But art and design are truly for everyone, and I love showing them through the world of thrift and affordable art, that both can be accessible to the everyone. 

Collected by Kate Pearce Vintage: