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Sustainable Framing

As international art consultants, Artelier specialises in curating art for luxury residential, hospitality, yacht and aviation projects. For many previous projects, Artelier has created bespoke frames as part of our art consultancy services. Expanding the scope of luxury fine art framing, in early 2020 Artelier launched an extensive range of frames that were designed and developed by our team, and now offer a comprehensive art framing consultancy service.


Central to Artelier's ethos is an emphasis on sustainability in all aspects of the business – from championing artists who use natural and ethically sourced materials, to being environmentally conscious in our everyday operations. When creating Artelier's new fine art framing collection, sustainability was a core consideration at every stage. Through responsibly sourcing woods, dyes, and finishes, as well as supporting sustainable practices, we have developed a collection of luxury art frames that truly reflects Artelier's values.


Responsibly sourced wood



The need to verify sustainable sources has become increasingly important for many private residential and hotel art projects. As well as being a central concern for our art consultancy, we promote sustainability by using environmentally sourced wood for our frames.


While wood is naturally a renewable material, responsible sourcing is of critical importance to make wood a truly ‘sustainable’ resource. Wood that has been classified as sustainable has been sourced from carefully managed forests: this prevents damage to eco-systems, the landscape and local wildlife, and ensures the longevity of the area as a woodland.


All the wood used for Artelier's art frames comes from FSC and PEFC certified suppliers. FSC and PEFC are independent, non-profit organisations who are internationally recognised as leading authorities on sustainable wood. They promote Sustainable Forest Management by working “throughout the entire forest supply chain” to ensure timber is “produced with respect for the highest ecological, social and ethical standards” (as explained by PEFC).


The majority of Artelier's fine art frames – both those in the Classic and the Signature collections – are crafted from Oak and African Maple. These woods have been specially selected, as each are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being species of ‘Least Concern’ – the lowest risk category.



Our Oak is grown in Wales, and so additionally complies with British forest management standards. As well as being sustainable woods, Oak and African Maple are ideally suited to frames due to their distinctive grains and malleability.

Our Specialist Woods range, which is part of the Signature Collection, offers a range of luxury woods that can be used for any profile. When working with exotic woods, it is essential to assess their origin; by ensuring that all wood suppliers have been FSC and PEFC certified, we are pleased to be able to offer an ethical option to those clients who want these woods. Cherry, American Ash and Walnut in this range are especially environmentally responsible options, as they are plentiful and are overseen by tight regulations.


Natural finishes & dyes



Due to our experience delivering art consultancy for a variety of luxury projects, we understand the need for exceptional finishes in all aspects of the design scheme. In the same way that we commission art that complements subtle elements of the design, our custom-made frames enhance other interior finishes. For example, wooden frames finished with natural dyes and waxes can harmoniously integrate with other natural materials in the space.


In order to enhance the wood’s qualities, framers use a range of waxes and oils to give a lustrous finish. Naturally derived waxes, such as beeswax, are not only made from renewable materials, but also create a much richer polish than synthetic varnishes made from heavy chemicals. Oils, like linseed oil, can also be applied in multiple coatings to the frame; as it slowly infuses through the surface layers, it builds up shine and preserves the wood.



Artelier’s Natural Finishes frames showcase a variety of water-based dyes created from soluble organic materials. The colours that can be achieved exemplify how natural dyes can create starkly different effects from the same wood, as well as enhance the wood’s grain. The advantage of using natural dyes rather than heavy pigments is that a dye penetrates the surface, rather than gathering in the pores of the wood. The colour is therefore more subtly changed, and the wood’s natural qualities are given prominence.

Liming can also be used as an added finish, and is especially effective on open-grained, harder woods such as oak and ash. This traditional technique uses a lime base mixed with water; once applied to the wood, it adds a soft white-wash effect, and leaves a distinctive white residue that lightens the grain.



Organic Colour



Paints from naturally derived colours are richer, earthier and more subtle in tone; the overall effect is more elegant and sophisticated than synthetic colours. When we are developing artworks for projects as part of our art consultant role, we carefully consult on colours so that they best complement the natural materials used in the project. Similarly, selecting well-matched, organic colours is an important consideration for coloured frames.


All of our fine art frames can also be coated in a range of eco-conscious paints made from 100% naturally derived pigments, as seen in the Contemporary Colour range. The sustainable paints we use are created exclusively from raw materials of plant-based or mineral origin, such as limestone, resins, starches, fruit oils and waxes. In contrast to synthetic paint, it is free from Volatile Organic Compounds, which are harmful to health. While we are also able to colour frames with any paint specified by the client, we actively promote the use of sustainable paints.


Gold Leaf and Specialist Metallic Finishes



The clients of high-end residential art projects often request genuine gold for art commissions and bespoke frames. Responding to this, Artelier's Signature Collection features many frames that have gold leaf details. It is important, however, to ascertain the origins of gold; all of the gold leaf details on our frames has therefore been made from ethical gold.


Suppliers who produce ethical gold have been guided by organisations like the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative and the Alliance for Responsible Mining. These organisations encourage transparent supply chains, ensure gold is not sourced from countries of conflict, and reduce environmental impact. All our gilded frames can also be applied with high-quality imitation gold leaf, upon the client's request.


When we have been appointed as the art consultant for a luxury hotel or other large-scale art projects, extensive use of gold leaf is often not cost effective. Where the project may require in excess of a thousand frames, gold leaf is not only a significantly high cost to the project, but cumulatively leaves a high environmental footprint. To minimise the cost to both the client and the environment, we have worked with artisan framers who can achieve a refined metallic effect through specialist finishes. Our Classic Collection showcases a range of frames with metallic finishes, which are more feasible for hotel art projects and large-scale developments.



Sustainable practices



By working with artisan framers, we actively support traditional craftsmanship. Each frame is crafted by hand, requiring a range of highly specialist skills to finish the frame. In all aspects of production, we ensure fair trade and remuneration, helping to sustain this craft.

Since our framers are based locally in the UK, the environmental impact of transportation is significantly reduced. Much of the wood used is also grown in the UK – such as the Welsh oak used across Artelier's collection – which helps to diminish this impact further. In addition, each frame is completed in-house by the same craftsmen, and so frames do not need to be delivered in between stages of production. Where possible, we also use delivery companies that actively off-set their environmental impact.


Whilst private clients may be interested in commissioning art and acquiring new pieces, as art consultants we also advise on how to reuse existing paintings in a new space. Re-framing is therefore in itself a sustainable practice for repurposing artworks. Paintings that the collector already owns can be integrated into new surroundings with contemporary frames, which have been intelligently matched to the space. The artworks are given a new lease of life, and are kept on display rather than in storage.


As well as being a cost effective approach for private clients, re-framing existing art can make a significant impact to the budget of a hotel art project. Luxury hotel brands may already have an extensive art collection that can be used for a new hotel, or, when redeveloping a hotel, the existing art can be adapted to new design schemes. Re-framing can therefore not only save on art procurement costs, but also promotes a sustainable attitude to art in the commercial sphere – one that encourages artworks to be kept on longterm display, and reused in new environments.



Visit Artelier's entire collection on our Framing Homepage. For an overview of the collection, read more in this introductory article.


As we are committed to promoting sustainable art, many of the artists featured in our Artist Walls collection incorporate sustainable practices. In a recent interview with sculptor Peter Hayes, we discuss how his ceramic artworks make use of organic materials.


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