Ryan Korban is a 25 year old rising star in the design world. His interiors confidently merge an 18th century aesthetic, with the bold, brash, and shiny. Contributing writer Joe Conway interviews Ryan for this month’s guest curator piece.
How do you typically describe your approach to decorating and what role does art play in your approach?
Because there are so many mediums within art and so many different directions, art plays a huge role in what I do. I feel like I can experiment with art in ways that are more advanced and varied than say with many fabrics I might use.
Design is sometimes viewed as a very stale industry or one that’s primarily reserved for an older or a more conservative group; my approach to design is to bring a sexiness and a youthful edge to interiors.
Do you typically design around a client’s collection or specific work, or let the design lead to the eventual placement of the art ?
I never like to base a room around a specific work as this feels like a more conservative approach to decorating. If I decorate and then find a place for art, it becomes more of an evolution and ends up going in an unexpected, and interesting spot. For me, the unexpected is what makes the design process exciting.
You’re known for doing really great work with smaller spaces. Do you have any secrets you can reveal?
I think that for a small space the trick with art is to go really big. In small spaces, and I work with them so much, going floor-to-ceiling really creates a lot of drama. The pieces consume the space—and I mean ‘consume’ in the best of ways. I tend to either cover the walls in art or try and use very large pieces that literally go from floor to ceiling.
It’s also all about putting things in unexpected spaces– like hanging a painting on the door to a closet, or placing a painting behind a lamp where you would think it’s being blocked visually. It’s the notion of an unpredictable placement in a small space that creates interest.
Do you have a favorite piece of art or artist of all time?
I love Francis Bacon, he’s one of my favorites. I love John Currin. I love work going back to Renoir. I love Jenny Seville. I love a real painter, that’s what I respond to. I can appreciate a really amazing abstract—I use them all the time—but then again that it comes from someone who’s a great painter.
I’m not into the art with magazine cutouts with ink splashed over it. I enjoy modern art, but not the sort that makes obvious pop-culture statements and that sort of thing.
What advice would you give someone who is interesting in starting their own art collection?
When people first start, they tend to go for what’s popular. I think it’s important to really look around and find something you connect with and pieces that evoke some emotion in you.
How do you describe your style and how do you feel that style relates to design and art?
I am often asked to describe my style and many try and label it as “Mid-Century” or “18th Century”. For me, I think my aesthetic boils down to three words: sexy, romantic, and fantasy.
I’m trying to blur the lines between interior design, fashion and art. I want to help people realize that interior design is this cool thing that hasn’t always been represented in the energetic and youthful way that fashion or art has.
You worked on a makeover story in this month’s issue of Real Simple Magazine, how was Zatista a useful resource for you?
I use images from Zatista on mood-boards and client proposals. If I’m looking for an abstract, or an oil on canvas, all I have to do is search and I have an entire database that’s also available for purchase, it’s the perfect resource.
I also tend to work with younger clients. Purchasing art for them is a new and exciting endeavor. It’s a great way to get them started thinking about art without feeling intimidated or turned off by the seriousness of the New York art world.
In your opinion, does the ability to purchase original art online bring anything new to the art world that we haven’t seen thus far?
Having high-end and lower-end price points co-exist in one place. A venue where I can buy a $100 painting and a $10,000 painting for the same client in the same day is amazing.
Do you have a favor place to look at art? Galleries or museums in New York?
My favorite gallery or room is the European period room at the Metropolitan Museum. That’s obviously within the realm of interior design, but for actual art I love the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, it’s so beautiful there and the British Museum as well.
As an interior designer you want to give somebody something that they really love. This is a huge inspiration. You’re working with all of these different prices points: some people have massive budgets and some people have very small budgets.
I think the one thing I try to do is give people design that feels priceless, design that is so special, you can’t really put a price tag on it.