The best spots to put art in your office

Or how to make the best use of every inch of space

The best spots to put art in your office

Deutsche Bank London’s reception features art by Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst. Photograph: Deutsche Bank

Many would say it’s all about first impressions. Walk into a building, an office and you’ll directly have a sense of the values the company embody and the employees share. Is that so?

Art at first sight

Providing sofas and decorative plants are obviously common in every lobby — because you have to because it brings life and because it creates a warm and welcoming environment to host clients. But in how many buildings did you walk by a sculpture or a giant wall painting?

Some. However, it should be more and better considered. Indeed, as mentioned in a previous article, art is the perfect tool to deliver strong messages about a company key mission statements or values. And because the lobby is the first, and sometimes the only room, clients see except an office, it is the starting point of all the art’s strategy a company needs to put into action. Indeed, an entrance sets the tone of the place: it is the moment to express and impress clients with strong statement pieces reflecting your beliefs. In this sense, it is important not to forget that art is related to strategy: you need to think about the atmosphere you want to create, the style you want to impulse.

Following the same idea, corridors should not be considered as dead areas. On the contrary, these are also good places to hang art, because everyone walks by many times during the day. RAND Corporation, an American non-profit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis, gives us one of the best examples. Indeed, the company exhibits permanently a series of paintings entitled Portraits of Victor Clothing Company Employees produced by John Valadez across an elevator bank. And these are accompanied by many others pieces of art exposed all over the building making the Los Angeles Times talking about RAND like a “think tank with an artful mind”.

Portraits of Victor Clothing Company Employees (c. 1979–1981) by John Valadez, at RAND headquarters in Santa Monica. Photo by Panic Studio LA

Who said meeting rooms were boring?

If public spaces need to be targeted in priority, it would be silly to forget about the offices. However, the art of displaying art should follow the same rules as for the lobbies. Indeed, within an office, a company should focus on the “visual wall” — meaning the first wall a person will see when entering the room.

Furthermore, if art in reception can help spark conversation worth the wait amongst clients, it can also help to engage on thorny subjects. Indeed, as noted by Dr Babis Mainemelis from London Business School: “art is one of the most participative, dynamic and social forms of human behaviour… and art can help people experiment with doing things and create a platform for difficult conversations”. In this sense, it is really common for firms specialized in family law to hang photography representing family happiness and serenity.

But by the way, talking about that, is there a form of art more effective?

Interactive Fiber Wall in BNIM’s New Kansas City Office. Photograph: BNIM

Magic mirror in my hand, what is the fairest in the office?

According to a study led by International Art Consultants, the emphasis is still on traditional pieces of art with paintings and photography respectively favoured up to 74% and 71%. However, the contemporary art shouldn’t be misjudged. Art using textiles are becoming more and more appreciated — and also because in addition to their aesthetic effect, they also have a more practical function such as echo reduction and sound-dampening.

But finally, more than the category of the art in itself, what really matters is the colour. Indeed, colour have a major impact on artworks. Vivid colors such as orange, red,… evokes energy and passion. It gives the feeling that the company is spontaneous and ambitious. On the contrary, brown and green are often used to create a sense of peace and quietness –logical when thinking these are the colours of the woods.