Living With Art, In Conversation with Craig Tevolitz

Art is often the soul of a home, and in the right context, it can come alive and live up to its greatest potential. Creating this opportunity requires careful consideration of a home’s design to maximize art’s impact. As a long time lover of art and design, Craig Tevolitz has made a study of how to create spaces where people and their art can live together harmoniously. Designing homes that support the lifestyle of the families that live there while simultaneously protecting and ideally displaying their personal collections. From this passion and knowledge, Platemark was born.

We talked with Craig about how he got his start, what keeps him going and of course to get some tips on living with art.

TLV: How did you get started with Platemark?

CT: Platemark started in 1999 as a online art gallery specializing in prints. Our name, in the world of printmaking, means the “impression left on the margin of an engraving by the pressure of the plate, and regarded as a sign of the quality and authenticity of the print.”

Platemark became a design studio focused on interiors for art collectors in 2006. What happened is my husband joined Childs Gallery in Boston (he is now president), and I decided to keep the Platemark name to use for my interior design business. It made sense on a lot of levels, in particular our focus on art collectors. Art is in our DNA.


TLV: What made you decide on the specialization of designing homes to complement artwork?

CT: The decision to design interiors to complement art collections was partly a conscious decision, but mostly we observed that’s what our clients needed. Our clients routinely collect art. Many are significant collectors — even if they only have a few pieces or don’t consider themselves art collectors.

Collectors tend to know what pieces they want to acquire, but are less decisive about their interiors. The needs of the collector reach far beyond traditional interior design challenges, such as specialized lighting, cabinetry, protection from sunlight and art storage solutions.

It’s also how we work: The artwork our clients have is often our starting point when we design, though we do often recommend pieces to further their collection and surroundings.

When potential clients ask us what our style is we say, “It’s your style. It’s a combination of your art, what you like and how you want to live.”

TLV: One phrase that you use seems to describe your goal very well: “Décor should set the stage, not be the stage.” What sorts of techniques do you use to implement this ideal?

CT: Creating an interior that sets the stage without upstaging the collection takes careful planning. The techniques to create balance vary each time because, by nature, the needs of each client and project differs. That all said, sometimes creating balance means reducing the visual “clutter” of an existing space — a fine paint job is magical for that. Or it could mean making rooms feel more connected as you move from one space into another, so transitions aren’t jarring and everything has the same vibe.

Most importantly, collections aren’t static: they evolve over time and the décor must sustain this natural growth.

TLV: Are there certain rooms are easier (or more) difficult to incorporate art?

 CT: Living with art is possible in every room. Rooms with wet areas, such as bathrooms, are tricky and require thoughtful art placement and ventilation to remove humidity. Rooms that are very sunny also present challenges for certain works, like prints and photographs. There are precautions that you can take, like using UV-coated museum glass for framing, or window glazing and treatments with UV protection.

TLV: What kinds of questions do you ask your clients to help you gain a better understanding of their needs?

 CT: I usually ask what is the emotion that they want the space to evoke or inspire, and then I ask to see their art collection. How they acquired each piece and the story of it all is very revealing. We go room by room and we talk about what their wishes are as well as the challenges they have in the space.

TLV: Can you walk us through a particularly challenging project with an outcome you were especially proud of?

CT: Every project is challenging. Interior design, setting aside the obvious oohs and ahhs, is a very difficult project management endeavor. The most difficult part of this job is not being able to tell the client how difficult the job is!

There’s always drama, but we like to save it for their interiors. We insulate our clients from all the “design emergencies.” We do everything to minimize the impact of, say, when the electrician’s mother dies, which just happened, by the way.

TLV: Where does your love of art and design come from?

 CT: I’ve always had an affinity for art and design. And I’ve always pursued philanthropic activities. When I joined the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where I now serve on the Board of Advisors, I connected with others who share my passion and that’s helped it grow.

I believe philanthropy is so important and that’s why I am also involved in other organizations that support the arts, such as the Boston Center for the Arts and Save Venice. Designing interiors for art collectors is something I find so truly inspiring, and it’s taken me deeper in my love and appreciation for art and its relationship to architecture and history.

TLV: Is there a particular type of art (era, artist, style or medium) that you especially enjoying designing around?

 CT: I love vintage and contemporary photography, traditional sculpture and even installation art. I’ve always been drawn to those mediums [and I enjoy designing around them]. Installation art, in particular, is so much fun because the artist installs in the house. Installation art creates a beautiful tension between the furnishings and art, while simultaneously bridging an important gap. It’s the ultimate in living with art.

TLV: What advice would you give someone working on incorporating art into the home?

CT: First and foremost, have fun! Art collecting can come off as way too serious, especially if you’ve been collecting for many years and the risk-taking aspect of it has waned. Regardless of where you are in your collecting journey, your home shouldn’t feel like a museum. Salon style displays are impactful and also help when wall space starts to run out. Don’t be afraid to move pieces around.

If there’s clutter and a stack of pictures to be framed, incorporate storage into your scheme. Clutter can be stressful, and no one needs any more of that. With the right scheme, lighting, framing and display, your art will complete your home. Once we work our magic, we help clients fall in love with their art all over again.

Text by Liana Hayles Newton / Portrait by Dorothy Greco / All interior shots by Michael J. Lee

To learn more about the designer visit Platemark.com

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