Architecture Inspires Frame Design

Article excerpt

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. …