The relationship between art and design



When art and design meet the result is invariably compelling useful objects with a story to tell

A look at the relationship between art and design

While the relationship between art and design is a complex one that requires more than we can offer in a short article, but it is a theme that begs to be examined. So, we will start to delve into the subject, not only with a definition of both design and art, but with a look at the core differences between the two disciplines and how they intersect. Last, but not least, we will share some examples of objects that effortlessly straddle the dual worlds of art and design.


Defining works of art and design objects

To understand the intrinsic link between the disciplines of art and design, we need to start with a definition of each. For now, we’ll use the term “work of art” to cover a unique object that has been created through artisanal technique or techniques and is focused primarily on aesthetics.

Such pieces tend not to have a practical function, but exist purely in the name of beauty or to evoke emotions or stimulate thoughts in those who look at them.

A piece of design, on the other hand, will differ in terms of the process of conceiving and developing it, and also when it comes to function. Like works of art, they are the fruit of a quest for a certain aesthetic, but beyond that, their raison d’être springs from the need or desire to fulfil a specific objective. Then, they are usually produced on an industrial scale, meaning we are talking about series rather than unique items.


The differences between art and design

From the definitions covered above, it becomes clear that functionality is the main difference between a piece of art and a piece of design. In essence, the latter is usually developed to address a need, which could be of individuals or a collective group or society and as such, we can say that its primary purpose is to improve our quality of life.

While there is this key difference, the two disciplines are actually much closer to one another than you might think. More and more design objects are considered as works of art and this is particularly prevalent when they express some sort of greater message or meaning than their mere functional purpose. This also separates them from the traditional view of design as part of the industrial process and instead, they take on a more unique aspect that works in harmony with the functionality that was the original reason for their existence.


When art and design meet in the world of interior décor

Continuing our line of reasoning, we could say that a piece of design starts also to be considered a work of art when artisanal techniques and production methods take priority over industrial processes. In other words, when objects are made or finished by hand so that every single piece is slightly different, making it unique rather than another example of cookie cutter manufacturing.

Of all the sectors where art and design converge, perhaps interior décor is one where we see it at its most potent. It is certainly no coincidence that it is becoming increasingly common to find home accessories or furnishings that combine the distinctive traits of the two disciplines, ie they are unique, made using artisanal methods and are highly functional.


3 examples of home accessories that combine the worlds of art and design

It’s all very well to talk about a topic, but there is nothing more illustrative than some examples. We have selected three collections that embody the principles of objects that cross the line between art and design:

  • The Neighbor and Friends series of mirrors by Stephen Burks
  • Gravity Zodiac, by Salvatori Design Centre
  • The Village by Salvatori Design Centre and a series of internationally-acclaimed designers

The pieces in each of these collections represents the dualism that art and décor can create. Each is unique, produced using artisanal methods and is functional. Let’s take a look at them in a little more detail.


Combining art and design: Friends and Neighbors

These eye-catching, colourful mirrors are the fruit of a collaboration with designer and artist Stephen Burks, who was inspired by the dazzling palette of natural stones we presented to him. While they are first and foremost home accessories, they also represent the artistic expression of the designer’s Afro-American roots. This aspect, together with an enormous respect for artisanal traditions, is something that runs through his work.


Combining art and design: Gravity Zodiac

Gravity Zodiac is a collection of 12 perfect spheres of glorious natural stone which have been chosen to represent the colour and energy of the various zodiac signs. Each piece fulfils a practical function as a beautiful paperweight but beyond that, there is a spiritual element in the form of the energy of the ruling planet that is transmitted through the stone. It reminds us that we are part of something much greater that touches and shapes every moment, and this is where the dimension of art comes into play as a means of making us reflect upon wider concepts.


Combining art and design: The Village

The Village collection challenges the usual concepts of decorative objects by addressing important themes surrounding the way we approach our daily lives. This miniature global village brings together an array of diverse styles, ideas and backgrounds through the medium of natural stone. Featuring the work of eight designers from around the world, it showcases the beauty of a multicultural community where differences are celebrated and contribute to a more vibrant and varied harmonious way of life.

We have seen that while art and design are separate disciplines, when they converge, bringing functionality and expressivity together, the result is a universal language in which aesthetics play their part in telling a story or transmitting a message. If you are looking for home accessories and furniture that go beyond mere functional or decorative pieces, we invite you to browse our Home Collection section and find inspiration in the works of our designers.

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