Design Life column: The analysis of art connects us |

Design Life column: The analysis of art connects us

Nancy Sanford
Design Life

The arts present an opportunity to spur connections between us. When we discuss the arts — whether it’s a song, a painting or an interior design element — we reveal things about ourselves. As an interior designer, these conversations never cease to fascinate me.

For example, let’s take a plastic action figure sitting on a patch of AstroTurf atop a small wood pedestal.

Two groups of people could view this item very differently. Five curators of a leading design museum mull around a conference table meticulously dissecting the object for an upcoming exhibition.

At the same time, five friends are eating breakfast at a restaurant, discussing the same figure. They’ve seen it pictured in the local weekly news magazine.

The dynamic of conversations couldn’t be more contrasting. The experts scrutinize intensely, prodding and inspecting the little figurine. As they examine the grade of plastic, the shape, the quality of the turf, the curators dial into their cranial database, recalling millions of other objects they have studied in the past. They then eloquently discuss the nuances of this figure.

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Back at the diner, the friends take turns poking fun or perhaps admiring what the designer of the piece has accomplished. They are relaxed and their comments are casual.

Both groups spend the same amount of time discussing and investigating the object. Does the opinion of the curators mean more? Why? Because they’re “experts?”

If you have the item or are interested in buying it, then it may make sense to hear what they have to say. Really now, who wouldn’t enjoy skilled authorities talking about something you own, especially if you have a discerning eye for design?

Then again, if hearing someone say that a Post-it note is a true design masterpiece or if seeing a toothbrush in a major design museum makes you want to scream, you probably aren’t going to go out of your way to solicit the opinion of design buffs.

When it comes to design, I enjoy reading design critiques as much as listening to the comments of clients and friends who may have some training (or experience) in the field. Evaluating interior design is highly subjective; there’s really no right or wrong. It’s a matter of personal preference.

It’s the discussion that is intriguing, the way we arrive at the final decision. Whether it’s about furniture or a piece of plastic art – or anything in between – the process connects us. It doesn’t matter how much we know or how well we express ourselves about an item, the real masterpiece is in the connection.

Nancy Sanford, owner of Nancy Sanford Interior Design, is an award-winning interior designer who has been transforming residential and commercial spaces in the Vail area for the past 12 years. For more information, visit or e-mail Nancy at

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