November 20, 2020

Which comes first? Art or Space?

We typically do not have the luxury of creating a space for art. Instead we find residual wall space for art out of sheer necessity or practicality, with the television at the forefront of our mind. On that note, we tend to overlook the potential of what fine art can give us, of its calm, its meaning, and its effects of what it does to us, and our space.

Which comes first? Well, it is the eternal chicken or the egg question. I tend to find the answer somewhat in the middle as we evolve through the different stages in our life. Whether to find ourselves either creating space out of function and practical necessity before involving art, or being a passionate art lover and sacrificing some aspects of function for art. We could’ve grown to appreciate art, and include it in our life, or alternatively, we could’ve appreciated art while we grow. Whatever the reason, there is always space for art if it ever move us so. (Akin to a concert pianist devoting the space for a grand piano in a tiny apartment)

Majority of us falls somewhere in between, but a greater majority of us fails to recognize how art can affect our very being and set the mood of our living space. There are the physical aspects – setting the mood through colour and the through form. There is also the metaphysical aspect where Art moves us. Simply imagining the stark difference between staring at white stark walls versus having a piece of art that we love. It is intangible, but yet art nourishes our very being, it renews, it calms. It is akin to looking out of a window, but in this case, it’s a window into the soul of its creator.

So back to the question of which comes first? It will be up to us and enter the phase of our lives and our preferences. Do we have furniture that we need to work around with? Do we have the space? Do we work with the colors we have? Do we find a complementary art work that suits?

In our Art & Space series, we will discuss the notions of how we can incorporate art in our space whichever stage we are. We seek that balance, and most importantly, to find out how we can have the piece of art to work in our space. In the articles to come, we will talk about the different factors to consider – scale, proportion, placements, light, colors and textures.

Life Outside XXI by Jordy Hewitt. Mono Chair & Floema marble dining table by Wendelbo.


Scale & Space

Scale and proportion of artwork is something we often don’t pay much attention but yet we do it all the time, albeit subconsciously. We might very simply want a piece of art to cover most of the wall so it doesn’t feel empty, yet subliminally we know whether something is either too small or too big but we do not quite know the exact reasons why that is. Scale and proportion are crucial to influencing the experience of the work and the space, and here we will break down the fundamentals of what that subconscious voice in your head is nudging you about.


In art and architecture, there are techniques to create aesthetically pleasing proportions. Techniques known the Golden ratio or the golden rectangle that has been used since ancient time. For example, the Golden Ratio is based on a mathematical Pi equation that produce a sense of balance, harmony and beauty. So don’t be surprised when you find your intuition calling you to get the same results similar to these ‘divine geometry’, just because it simply feels and looks right.



Scale is the principle of organisation of structural elements in art and design and can be thought of as the relation between objects and the human body. Scale influences the viewer experience and is an important part of the artist’s design process to assist in emphasising his/her intention.

While scale and proportion are somewhat interchangeable, proportion has an extra consideration in its comparative relation to a whole. In our case, it is about the size of artwork relating to space and objects.

How it fits into our space is integral in how we view the art. While there is no right or wrong answer in having a massive piece of art in a tiny studio apartment, or a tiny piece of art is a massive space. It is the intent of how we want to experience the art, placement of furniture and how the space is being utilised.


When Space Becomes Art

A large piece of artwork can imply grand sensations of wealth, mystery and awe especially when it exceeds that of our average human size. It consumes our senses and sets the tone of the space by its sheer scale. We take an example of this wall mural in a one bedroom apartment. While it might seem oversize at conception, we can see how the art immediately transform the space by its sheer size and sets a completely different mood through its colors and forms. 

Wall mural by Sarah May. Hold Sofa by Wendelbo. Moon coffee table by Ethnicraft.

Art In Between


Medium sized pieces of artwork are usually our first choice as they are easy on the eye because they are within our periphery. A medium size scale canvas creates a sense of calmness and ease to the artwork whilst also providing an appropriate balance with human scale objects. 


Tiny Art 

 A miniature artwork can imply delicate sensations and create emotions of puzzlement, focus, interest and curiosity.

In the above image the dining space has two miniature pieces of artwork hung in the centre of a dining set. This arrangement artwork emphases intimacy and exclusivity. The art makes you feel the importance of the time spent with others at the dining table because the artwork itself is not the focal point of the space. A feeling of space and openness is created.


Balancing Art & Space 


In our living space, we chose Jordy’s Life Outside V painting that is 2.2m x 1.5m in size.  The scale is enormous however, the painting is appropriate for the large wall and room because there is heaps of space to play with.

As the painting is set as portrait and in between the Slice shelving and dried flowers to creates a sense of balance, height and luxury as if you were in a grand room dancing gracefully.

Scale and proportion create the viewer experience. The artist can use scale and proportion to influence the viewer experience for a desired outcome. While we think that out of proportion objects such as a small artwork on a large wall distorts the balance and ratio of the whole experience, it is not to rule out one or the other, but to consider the other variables such as –

  • Does this painting mean a lot to me in this space?
  • Is there a better space where I can experience this painting?
  • If not, what furniture pieces I can move around to make it work?
  • What do I need to accompany it with to make it look more proportional?

With that said, there are further considerations in choosing and placing artworks in space which we will explore in our next article.


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