Art in the workplace

Staring at a blank wall: The need for art in the workplace

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

Over the past few years, I’ve been involved in many impressive office fit-outs and have witnessed some stunning transformations. Tired, dated workplaces transformed into modern, stylish environments incorporating open plan design and, more recently, activity based working.

The photoshoots we do of these spaces look fantastic. The new clean and tidy furniture all laid out with thought and the colours, finishes, and fabrics all working together….except for the walls. Big. Blank. White. Walls.

What those walls need is some art and here’s why:


Artwork and productivity


In the UK, research by Exeter University’s School of Psychology found that people working in enriched spaces decorated with art or plants were 17% more productive than those in lean spaces which were bare and functional.

And a survey in the US by the Business Committee for the Arts and the International Association of Professional Art Advisors found that art in the workplace helps businesses address key challenges such as reducing stress (78% agreed), increasing creativity (64% agreed) and encouraging expression of opinions (77% agreed).

Here in NZ, everyone in our industry knows that good design creates positive surroundings for employees, which in turn increases productivity. But unfortunately adding artwork into the mix, which has the potential to further enhance a space, is often overlooked. And that’s a missed opportunity.


Artwork and company values


Art in the workplace suggests that the employer has some interest in the employees’ experience and values creativity.

An intelligently-curated art collection can reflect a company’s style and spirit to employees and customers. Carefully selected artwork can send a clear, yet subtle, message to those who see it, expressing and reinforcing brand values.


Artwork and creative thinking


Art can inspire creative thinking and give people confidence that new ideas will be well received. Using dynamic, changing art can inspire and encourage your staff to think differently.


Selecting the right artwork


There’s an age old question — what is art?

In the corporate context art can be everything from framed paintings and prints; to murals and wall installations; sculptures; plants; all the way to twigs in a vase for example. Whether the art is by an up and coming local artist or a well-known artist, whether you choose originals or reproductions, whether you own the art, rent it or commission it are all decisions to be made by the organisation.

But at the end of the day, we don’t need studies to tell us that art and design enrich our lives, do we? Art can be a powerful asset for any organisation.

So don’t overlook art in the workplace. Champion it.


Diego Betanzo is based at Crestline’s Parnell Studio. He’s a project manager extraordinaire and art enthusiast.

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