Carroll Art Is a One-Stop Shop for All Your Fine Art and Design Needs

Ken and Bernard Carroll's interior design firm also has a fine art component—which gives them an advantage against competitors.

The Edge Apartment in Manchester, designed by Carroll Design. Courtesy of Carroll Design.
The Edge Apartment in Manchester, designed by Carroll Design. Courtesy of Carroll Design.

It can be easy to forget that, outside of educational institutions, art’s primary function is decorative. It’s something to hang on the walls of your home or install in the corner of your business. It’s ornament. And a great deal of art is bought or sold within the framework of interior design.

It makes sense, then, that a gallerist with an eye for design would have an upper hand. Ken and Bernard Carroll, the father-son duo behind Carroll Art in Manchester, UK, would agree. The duo runs both an interior design firm and an art dealership, and the two businesses feed each other constantly.

“It is a great advantage in the sense that our clients know they get a ‘one-stop,’ complete service through us,” Ken Carroll says. “They don’t need to go and find or rely on someone else for their art procurement as we have the experience, expertise, and contacts to source adequate artwork.”

Robert Longo, Jules (2002). Courtesy of Carroll Art.

The Carrolls launched Carroll Design in 2004, specializing in interior design for bars and restaurants. It was a humble operation then; they worked out of a small Manchester apartment. But it wasn’t long before they grew in size and scope. Today, although they take on projects all over the UK and Europe, they operate out of an office in Salford, a city just outside Manchester proper, where they’ve created a show apartment to display their designs along with appropriate artwork.

In 2014, with a successful business under their belts, they decided to expand. They had, at that point, fully come to understand the importance of art in their field, so integrating a dealership was a natural step.

“We’ve always been of the opinion that art should play an integral part in all of our designs,” the younger Carroll explains. “Finding the right work for a specific area can transform a room. As much as the layout, furniture, and lighting are crucial elements to any design, art brings it all to life and makes space a lot more interesting and exciting.”

Like the design firm, Carroll Art began quietly.

A game room designed by Carroll Design. Courtesy of Carroll Design.

“We started buying small pieces for a few hundred dollars and holding onto them,” Ken recalls. “We probably did that for the first couple years as they went up in value, then sold them on and reinvested the proceeds into larger works. We’ve followed this model ever since and have gradually grown over the years.”

Indeed they have, amassing a savvy collection of big-name artists. They currently own pieces by Kaws, Robert Longo, Takashi Murakami, and Damien Hirst, and have sold works by artists such as James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, and Julian Opie.

Carroll attributes the collection to the “designer eye” that he and his father bring to the art world.

“The designer eye enables us to immediately identify what type of works will work best in specific spaces,” he says. “This is a great advantage when clients come to us looking for works for a particular area.”

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