Visual Productivity: Embracing Art In Office Interiors

PPB Office by HASSELL

PPB Office by HASSELL

Art is making more of a mark on office interiors, which are being transformed from sparse, white-walled spaces to visually rich environments.

Advances in communication technologies, flexible working arrangements and a more collaborative approach to space are driving this design shift in office interiors.

Work spaces are shrinking at a rapid rate as offices embrace hot-desking and tear down cubicle walls to create beautifully designed common spaces.

“We think interest levels in art are thriving across the board,” explained Canvas & Canvas director Nick Peters.

“Some interesting artwork hung in a commercial/office space is such a great way to add some personality and life to a space which might otherwise be lacking in these areas.”

Design Harrison Market Research

House of Design Harrison Market Research Project – Boardroom
Image Credit: Agatha; Source: House of Design

In addition to contributing to a visually engaging environment for its staff and visitors, art application has also been linked to increased productivity and work output.

“Interior touches such as artworks and plants can have a profound effect on staff and the level to which they enjoy the space they are working in,” adds Peters. “Needless to say, this can have a flow on effect to productivity, reduced stress etc,” Peters said.

House of Design creative director Agatha Ozhylovski agreed on the impact of art on workplace productivity.

“Art evokes emotion on a number of levels, including subconscious. You can control a mood, feeling, direction and attitude through art and its positioning,” she said.

Ozhylovski  also shared some surprising statistics on the traditional, sterile white office in terms of her design objectives when working with offices.

Slattery Australian Office

Slattery Australian Office by Elenberg Fraser. Image Source: Yellow Trace

“We are encouraged to keep away from whites and especially pure white, as research has shown it to be not so good for overall health and well-being,” she explains.

“People who do IQ tests perform much better in a coloured room than in a plain white environment, and yet 80 per cent of paint sold is white.”

She added that pure white can make people feel edgy and restless and lead to a loss of focus.

“One of the ways we can add colour to a room quickly, easily and in some cases inexpensively is through adding pictures and paintings to the walls,” she said.

When it comes to subject matter, personal preference is important but connecting art with a business image is a great strategy when it comes to creating ambiance, as it suggests familiarity. Art by famous artists or unique subject matter can encourage conversation ultimately needs to be appropriate for its environment.

Slattery Australian Office

Slattery Australian Office by Elenberg Fraser. Image Source: Yellow Trace

Ozhylovski has found abstract art to be popular with offices as it is generally non-offensive to any cultural or religious groups.

“It may not be to your personal taste, but if it is a quality art piece you can’t fault it,” she said.

Peters believes the diversity of subject matters make one particular category hard to pinpoint and believes in art and space alignment.

“It really comes down to individual taste, personalities and the interior space that the artwork will be placed into,” she said.

To help with subject matter decision, Ozhylovski offered three questions that office owners should consider before purchasing art:

  1. How will the image/picture portray you to your clients/potential clients?
  2. Will it reinforce your corporate identity, even subconsciously through the use of colour?
  3. How will it make the view feel?
Canvas & Canvas Studio

Canvas & Canvas Studio
Image Source: Canvas & Canvas

Once an art piece is chosen, its placement needs to be carefully considered as colour and subject can communicate more than many think. Ozhylovski uses Picasso as an example.

“[I]f you put (Picasso’s) original work in your office (even though it may be small), you are saying that you have quality taste, but you may also be saying that you are very expansive. You may not want that image for your business,” she explained.

“Alternatively, you may have selected a modest piece of art, good colour, safe subject matter but you hung it in the wrong location/ at the wrong height etc. and have instantly created a subconscious feeling of unease and restlessness.”

Beyond traditional guidelines of placing art in high traffic areas where it will be seen or allocating large artwork to large walls, Ozhylovski has offered an office placement guide:

  • Entrance/Reception: the company logo should be the first thing people see, the smiling receptionist second, and then the art reinforcing the corporate image
  • Hallway/passage: art should be visible as workers walk down to the office for directional flow
  • Office: one or two images is generally enough
  • Boardroom: this room needs to feature a stronger image as there is strong energy in the area

As designers shake up office interiors, art is no longer just for creative spaces. Conservative offices are also taking advantage of art’s visual, ambient and communication benefits.

“(Art) sends a clear message from management to staff that they care about the environment that we all work in and are prepared to invest in it,” Peters said.

“An affordable piece of art can be a very small price to pay to show your staff that you care.”

By Angela Fedele
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