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How to think outside the frame when choosing wall art

Soho House’s Head of Collections, Kate Bryan, on how to create depth, texture and personality with alternative artworks

By Megan Murray

To complement the flow and feel of our spaces, we use different types of art in our Houses around the world. While framed artworks and prints have their place, using a piece that feels a little different can bring something extra to a room.

For example, at Little Beach House Barcelona, where interiors have a natural unfinished feel, honing in on texture with a fabric wall hanging enhances the club's coastal location. Or, at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire, traditional plates mounted on the walls reflect the countryside setting, and the hand-painted details explore women's beauty standards to spark a conversation.

Here, Bryan picks out some examples of wall art from our Houses, which offer an alternative aesthetic to inspire how you curate your home.

Blanda’s wall mural at Soho Warehouse

'We have loads of murals in the Houses, especially across North America. In Soho Warehouse, I commissioned a rooftop mural by Blanda, because the space needed something that would really stand out. She brings a feminist message to her art, which is important, and the black and white, single-line figuration of the mural suited the vibe of LA.

'I think murals are so exciting, because they transform a room with an incredible statement, but without taking up any physical space. Then, when you accessorise with a lamp, plants and furniture, the mural becomes a living piece of art and part of the room. It's a huge ambition of mine to have one in my home, or even across my garden walls, which is another way of approaching it.'

Wall hangings from local artisans at Little Beach House Barcelona

'The bedrooms at Little Beach House Barcelona feature some beautiful, textured wall hangings. And not only do they suit the mood of the place, but they also have a really nice story behind them. Little Beach House is located in Garraf, which is a coastal town just outside of the city. In this area, it's a tradition of the artisans who live there to create these weavings, and so our design team wanted to work with a local to include the history of Garraf in the House.

'If you're thinking about finding a spot on your walls for a woven hanging, I'd recommend trying the bathroom. Art in bathrooms sometimes get overlooked and the humidity means it can be difficult to find a piece that won't become affected over time. You can't really have anything on paper, even if it's framed, because eventually the frame will let in moisture. A wall hanging works well because it's hardier.'

Shannon Downey’s cross-stitch pieces at Soho Warehouse

'There's an amazing artist in the US called Shannon Downey, who creates politically motivated cross-stitch, and we commissioned her to create some pieces for the bedrooms in Soho Warehouse in LA. Her pieces have such wit and charm, but there's also a serious message present, which is something you don't initially expect. You expect a cross-stitch to say "Home Sweet Home", but instead she's talking about violence against the trans community.

'Cross-stitch can give your walls texture and personality. Many of them are circular, so they bring a different shape and can break up an arrangement of prints. Also, as cross-stitch doesn't have to be framed, you can really see the textured details, which is interesting.'

Eliza Hopewell’s mounted plates at Soho Farmhouse

'In the Piglets at Soho Farmhouse in the UK, you'll find hand-painted plates by Eliza Hopewell.

Her work is orientated towards greater representation in art, showing people who haven't traditionally been featured throughout art history. This includes people of colour and also women, doing things that are supposedly taboo (but in reality are totally normal), such as shaving their legs or masturbating.

'I think what underscores the message of Hopewell's work is that she takes something that's very genteel and makes it improper with the imagery she uses. It's powerful.

'Plates look brilliant in bathrooms and kitchens. They're really hardy, which means that moisture, scent and light aren't a problem. You can also mount one next to a framed piece or a small painting, and the introduction of that circular shape just breaks up the wall so nicely.'