For our March Brunch event we were so lucky to spend a wonderful hour in her company, seeing some beautiful examples of art works she has selected, hearing about the different artists, genres and media as well as gaining an insight into how she can help support us, our clients and our projects in art selection.
Art advisor Vanita Barany founded Art Room London in 2010 to provide an accessible and friendly, specialist advisory service in all areas of art collecting. She is the most approachable, calm and knowledgeable lady, whose love for her subject really shines through.
Vanita understands how art can seem intimidating, and she seeks to explode the myths and make art fun for all. She works closely with interior designers, listening to their vision, understanding their clients and their projects to ensure she specifies the perfect art works.
Getting to know your business….
How did Art Room London come about and how long ago? How did you get started?
I founded Art Room London Ltd in 2010. A friend of my sister came to one of our exhibitions for emerging artists, which we held in our house. He bought a couple of works and asked if I would be interested in helping him acquire an art collection. He was CEO of a FTSE 100 company keen to learn about art as he collected; he recommended me to his business colleagues and that was the beginning of my company; I am still buying art for him now.
Vanita, who or what are your biggest inspirations or influences within your own business?
I think the biggest inspiration for my business is the art: I find it exciting and truly inspirational. I really admire Stephen Paisnel of The Nine British Art Gallery; Will Porter for Modern British Art; Michelle McMullen at Christies and India Phillips at Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art; all for their incredible depth of knowledge in their specialism and their generosity of spirit throughout my career.
With all your knowledge on art sourcing, what top 3 tips would you offer for a designer just starting out in the Interior Design industry, who knows absolutely nothing about art of any kind, however, has their very first design project and is keen to specify it for the first time?
Spend time looking at all genres of art not just contemporary; have confidence in what you like; know it doesn’t need to match the décor.
What key skills do you use in your career, for anyone thinking of changing careers to become an art advisor?
The main skill is listening, really hearing what the client wants. Another is admitting when you don’t know who an artist is, if you don’t, but being happy to research. Remember it’s not your art collection; you can advise but ultimately, it’s their decision.
What is still the biggest challenge within your own business?
Managing expectations in terms of what you can buy in each price point and emphasising to clients that collectible art sells quickly.
What was your lightbulb moment? OR What has been your most successful milestone to date?
Networking does help you expand your business; word of mouth isn’t enough.
Do you work globally? If so, how do you achieve this?
I buy art from America, Australia and Europe but I haven’t worked abroad yet. I’ve pitched for a few projects recently and am waiting to hear with fingers crossed.
What has been your most tricky and satisfying art installation?
Suspending an eight-foot bronze sculpture in a stairwell by a single wire.
Have you been able to continue providing your art sourcing services through the Covid pandemic? Have you had to adapt working on-site protocols at all?
Thankfully I have been able to work during the second lockdown. Artworks have been taken to clients’ houses to view, rather than taking the clients to the galleries. We have used video as a great way of showing artworks virtually.
I imagine that for clients who have never bid for artwork at auction before, there must be some nerves – what steps do you take to ease their concerns?
Funnily enough, I’m bidding for the first time for a new client this week. Artroomlondon do all the homework before the auction: researching the piece, finding prices achieved in the past by the same artist. We then advise the level of bid. There is always an estimate for each artwork and most clients ask me to bid within a range. I take their bid before the sale via text message or email and don’t bid a penny more than the agreed amount; I’m not always successful but the client knows I will never bid over their specified sum.
Sometimes clients fall in love with a piece and have to own it! They give such a generous bid we are bound to be successful, but most clients tend to be careful.
What advice would you give to a potential collector, who is just starting out, in terms of investment pieces and where to start?
Love what you buy irrespective of the price. Art prices are influenced by trends; they go down as well as up.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
The art business is still pretty unregulated; my job is about trust, honesty and transparency with clients – those qualities are key.
Did you enjoy your guest speaker appearance at Metier Rendezvous recently? What did you bring away with you from that?
I loved speaking at Metier and enjoyed listening to the discussions and concerns from the participating designers.
What are the key benefits for Interior Designers to be working with an art advisor such as yourself?
I can be an added extra service to offer their clients. I take care of the entire art package procuring, restoration, framing, art installation and insurance documents. I will consider their concept carefully; find artworks which complement their scheme within a specified budget. I collaborate and listen.
What is next for you / your business?
Planting out my sweet peas and dahlias and collaborating with more interior designers.
Getting to know Vanita and learning what makes her tick…
Tell us about your own home… or perhaps about your favourite room in your home. What type of property do you live in?
My home is a split-level Victorian apartment with a big private garden in North London. My partner and I have never had a big garden before and we love it; we’re landscaping and planting.
How would you describe your own interior style?
Happily and completely eclectic.
Tell us about your favourite room in your home.
We had a master bedroom and en-suite bathroom extension added in lockdown. The bathroom was completely designed for us and is heaven; it feels like a hotel! Walk-in shower, two basins and a painted cast iron bath with a huge eglomise mirror my partner made.
What has been your biggest home extravagance?
The extension and then of course artworks.
And what is on your coffee table?
A small bronze sculpture by Olivia Musgrave, interiors magazines, my current bookclub book, auction catalogues, a vase of hydrangeas and a scented candle.
One of Vanita’s fav artists – Olivia Musgrave, Metamorphosis (left) and Persephone
Who inspires you on the design front?
I love Charleston in East Sussex and the Bloomsbury Group and at the opposite extreme the Eileen Gray E-1027 house in the South of France.
Lastly, if you had a blank cheque, what would you be splashing out on for your own home?
An Emily Young carved stone head for the garden and a Corbusier painting for the house.
Another one of Vanita’s fav artists – Emily Young, Helios
Thanks SO MUCH to Vanita for sharing her expertise and knowledge in the world of art. From Old Masters to supporting emerging artists, large canvases to works on paper to sculptures, Vanita and Art Room London really have a wealth of experience in their field and would be delighted to collaborate in art selection. Whether it is a single piece you are looking for or you are compiling a collection for a client, reach out and get in touch with Vanita at Art Room London who will help you with your project.
Vanita Barany | Artroom London Ltd
M : 07905 481 685
If you are inclined to reach out on Social Media then you can find Vanita here:
If you would like to join us in a webinar and have the opportunity to listen to more engaging speakers, like Vanita, over a delightful brunch, then sign up for membership now.