By Design: Brigette Romanek on the Transformative Nature of Art

By Design: Brigette Romanek on the Transformative Nature of Art

Brigette Romanek’s eye for art and penchant for the eclectic make this designer and collector a true master of the mix.
Brigette Romanek’s eye for art and penchant for the eclectic make this designer and collector a true master of the mix.
Brigette Romanek (and her labradoodle) photographed by Ye Rin Mok.

T ake a look at a Brigette Romanek-designed room and you may see a pair of canary yellow contemporary Italian armchairs, a $5 Chinoiserie vase and an antique French crystal chandelier. What appears to be a surprising blend in reality makes for the kind of bold, assertive yet harmonious spaces that have quickly earned the self-taught designer plenty of buzz and an impressive client list. Based in Los Angeles, Romanek fell into a music career before designing a line of crocodile handbags that had Barneys and Kate Moss calling. But it was an interiors project for a friend that opened Romanek to her true passion: creating homes that give her clients joy, strength, calm and comfort. The soon-to-be author and furniture designer cherry-picked her favorite pieces from Sotheby’s Gallery Network and Interiors collections to dream up a country house foyer that’s dripping in style and personality.

How do you use art in your interiors? Are there any styles or periods that you gravitate towards?

It’s really individual. There are some jobs that are art driven and others where art is worked into the room based on what we’ve curated during the project. No matter how we come to choose the pieces, they are absolutely instrumental to the finished look and feel. I usually make one the focal point and pull from there. I’ll consider what other colors I’m using in the space, the light in the room and the vibe. Art plays a very important role with all of those things and is one of the first visuals to affect a mood in an interior, so it’s thought about before the placement even happens for the piece.

The office space of Brigette and husband, director Mark Romanek’s, luxe, Mediterranean-style Laurel Canyon home perfectly balances form and function, built around this bold and architectural statement desk. (Photo by Douglas Friedman)

Describe the artworks from Sotheby’s Gallery Network that stood out to you.

George Condo and Ed Ruscha: George Condo is an artist that works in many mediums. Viewing his work is such a pleasure whether it’s a portrait or a reconfigured Old Masters painting. It’s special to take something as straightforward as a singular image, make it expressive and breathe life into it.

Ed Ruscha is considered part of the Pop Art movement, but his work has become so much more. What I love is that his art is transformative, engaging, provoking and mood changing. He’s a talented wordsmith, using only one or two words to immediately send me down a creative spiral, wondering, “What does this evoke? Why does this mean something to me? Why did he choose the colors behind those words?” Even though Ed Ruscha is an artist that is known, respected and valued all over the world, his work makes me think about California and my life there.

Art helps stretch every creative and imaginative muscle that one has, but is also very personal, which can make it difficult to put into words because it’s about feeling. What moves one may not move another and vice versa. The reason why I chose these artists from the gallery is because they’re artists I’ve been a fan of and appreciated for years. It just feels magical in a way that only art can.

Brigette's mood board, composed of her favorite Sotheby's Gallery Network and Interiors online emporium pieces, alongside personal inspiration.

How do you usually help clients select artwork for their space? What does a designer or client need to consider when choosing artwork for their home?

They need to consider what moves them, will bring them joy and enhance their story. It’s such a primitive feeling when you look at a piece that immediately prompts a visceral response from you. The more you become engaged with a piece, the more you’ll get from it. There are obviously no steadfast rules about what or how you collect. Most importantly, it just has to mean something to you. You may gravitate to one particular style, such as abstract, portrait or landscape, that will come together in a space and tell your art story.

What was your process in creating this specific mood board?

I couldn’t pick one piece for this board because I was moved by so many. Since this is all an art fantasy, I decided to make a gallery wall. Every single selection from Derrick Adams, George Condo, Ed Ruscha, John Lister, Nick Moss and Richard Diebenkorn is something that I would absolutely want to own. I envisioned a family in a European country house containing a long, beautiful, elaborate foyer with high ceilings and decorative molding details that’s filled with beautiful, vivid art. They’re pieces they’ve spent a lifetime of picking that have strong sentimental value, and have arrived at this country house where they will enjoy them for the rest of their lives.

The main dining room of the AllBright , an international women’s social club in Los Angeles, designed by Brigette Romanek. (Photo by Ye Rin Mok)

What is the aesthetic story that it tells? Who lives in this room?

This is a home lived in by a worldly and well-traveled family. The foyer where everyone enters is the setup for how unique and eclectic this home will be. As you walk in, you’re filled with a sensory overload in the best way possible. The color, the art, the furniture pieces — everywhere your eye lands is a visual feast. It just makes you want to see more. Sometimes art is put into private areas and private rooms, but here it’s to be enjoyed by everyone who walks through the door — as just a part of the family’s story. Welcome.

Are you a collector? If yes, what do you collect and why?

My collector’s journey began and has really grown over the last few years. I’ve always been a creative person, which helps me understand the importance of art and the artist’s story. I take it to heart and quite seriously. As a baby collector, I soak up every bit of information I can get my hands on regarding art that I’m interested in. I often find myself drawn to portraits because there is so much expression and stories to be told by looking at faces. Abstract art is a favorite as well because it’s so interpretive. I find joy in that.

Daring, luxe and just plain fun, Romanek’s selection speaks to the power of art and objects to impact a mood and provide a sensory experience. Explore the unique consigned pieces at Sotheby’s luxury emporium and discover what moves you.

The living room of Brigette's LA home is outfitted with a pair of Marco Zanuso chairs and a Hans Wegner chaise lounge. An artistic arrangement of chinoiserie-style vases defines the space. (Photo by Douglas Friedman)

Portrait in banner image photographed by Ye Rin Mok.

Buy Now Interviews Interiors + Design

About the Author

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

More from Sotheby’s

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top