Architecture Inspires Frame Design

Architecture Inspires Frame Design – Brief Article

Where does a frame designer get new ideas? Recently, ABN sat down with Vazgen Houssian, designer at Nielsen & Bainbridge, to find out the process behind creating new frame design. Interestingly enough, much of his inspiration comes from designs in architecture.

“It is impossible to have a career as a frame designer without having a passion for architecture and art,” Houssian commented. “Both spark my imagination for innovative design, while creating an interplay of color, shape, depth and texture. Architects are inspired to make room for new ideas and physical forms that are sophisticated with a practical sensibility. In the same sense, I treat designing frames with the same application and focus–judged by the same criteria of craft, style and originality.”

Having a strong appreciation for modern architecture, Houssian is influenced by 20th century contemporary design. “Avant-garde, Bauhaus, late modernism and post-modernism–each style has a specific set of expectations and form. And I create ways to design frames that interpret these various art forms” he said.

Houssian often visits custom framers, galleries, furniture and interior design centers in New York for design ideas. He believes that designing a new collection of frames is not very different than designing a new line of furniture, fabrics or fashion. “I find new ideas for finishes and materials by visiting the D&D building in New York, particularly B&B Italia and the Donghia showroom,” he said. “Additionally, I visit fashion stores for color and textural direction and translate all of these elements into a palette for frames and matboards.”

Houssian also uses his home as an idea center: “My apartment is an idea lab that my wife Madlen and I explore–the aspects of contemporary living through simplicity. The walls, furniture and art change at all times.”

While current frame trends influence Houssian’s designs, especially Italian frame profiles, he believes “there is no point to duplicate these designs.” Instead, Houssian believes there is room for both ornate and metal design–he likes to combine dassic gold leaf antique finishes with a minimal flat black surface with interesting profiles and comfortable proportions. “It is the interplay of the old and the new, classic and cutting-edge modern, that creates an elegant union in frame profiles,” he said.

Houssian believes various schools of art and architecture have influenced current frame designs. He remarked, “Colorful and whimsical frames–currently in the marketplace–can clearly be attributed to Ettore Sottass, founder of the Memphis movement. I believe his influence can be seen in titanium in bold and metallic colors, sometimes designed with a frame collage of fluid shapes.” Another influential designer Houssian noted was Michael Graves, who has “taken his post modern, geometric style and designed a line of ready made frames for mass distribution.”

Likewise, Houssian predicts that future innovations in frame design will also come from the arts community. “I think we need to look at the current trends in architecture. At the end of the 20th century, architecture leaned toward minimalism with the inclusion of industrial materials and sophisticated finishes such as anodized aluminum,” he explained. “Currently, the color silver has become prevalent in home decor, household products, furniture and textiles. This wave of minimalism and the color silver will probably continue into the 21st century.”

“As styles influence the art we buy, the buildings we design and the rooms we furnish, so too will style influence and impact the framing business,” he continued.

Vazgen has received two Industrial Design Review awards and has developed and obtained 12 patents for a variety of graphic art equipment and picture framing finishes. In addition, he has created numerous designs for Pantone color markers.

Additional information for this article was provided by Mona Astra Liss, principal of the public relations and marketing agency, ASTRA Communications in Philadelphia.

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