Art in the Workplace
By Jessica Lipowski, jessicalipowski.com
Stark white walls and bare cubicles do not create a comfortable and inspiring workspace. However, it is hard to justify investing in art and other decorative fixtures when budgets are tight and the long-term value is not immediately apparent. Most view art as a luxury or an added bonus, not a necessity.
While works of art certainly liven up sterile spaces, art adds more to an environment than aesthetically pleasing eye candy. According to a 2012 study sponsored by the British Council for Offices (BCO), “There is growing evidence to suggest that, as well as boosting staff morale, a conducive and appealing working environment can significantly up productivity.” Whether in the form of a painting, sculpture, or photograph, art can stimulate creativity, which in turns prompts problem solving and productivity. The colors, shape, and movement of a piece can even alleviate stress, as well as leave a lasting impression on both employees and visitors. Art inspires.
“Art always adds to an environment,” said Petra Benach, a mixed media artist originally from California. “It creates mood, enhances a room, and ideally creates an impression, namely that it invests in creating it’s home.”
Petra, who currently resides in Amsterdam, designed two interactive art programs that aim to personalize art on the walls. Made to Measure (M2M), for instance, is a collaborative project between the artist and the client. The end goal is to ensure the final piece reflects the collector’s personality, as well as the (work) space.
“M2M is a way to get intimate access to an artist. Having a piece of art specifically made for you creates a really deep relationship to the work,” said Petra. “When we look at buying a piece of art, the artist is secondary because they’re not present … it’s usually just luck that you got to see it and that it resonated with you. When you get access to the artist and their process, the piece you end up with is incredibly unique and absolutely yours.”
The M2M process is tailored to each person. The collector first identifies the paintings that speak to them, paying particular attention to color, textures, and compositions. The artist, Petra, also encourages the client to remember what they played with as a child and what inspires them now. Exploration helps create. Petra then visits the collector’s space, taking into account the measurements, mood, and current palette. The customer can then participate as much or as little as they’d like and provide both feedback and direction along the way.
For the longest time, Ashley Cowles was not satisfied with her home office. She always felt like something was lacking. Ashley provides translation services to a variety of clients. She met Petra through the Amsterdam-American Business Club, and when she heard about the M2M initiative, Ashley felt it was the perfect opportunity to spruce up her space.
“I look at [the art] whenever I’m stuck; the composition is both soothing and inviting. I always feel better after looking at it for a while and just letting my thoughts wander,” said Ashley, “and the best part about having it on the wall behind me is that clients see it whenever I’m on Skype with them, so it’s a great conversation starter.”
Overall, she feels the piece adds a deeply personal touch to her office, helping to make it her own.
“It’s not just any office,” remarked Ashley. “By hanging Petra’s work on the wall, I have really claimed this space as mine.”
Oscar Wilde once said, “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” Let the art on your walls talk. Whether you are a one-person company or national corporation, allow your employee’s personalities and your company’s values to shine through and inspire. Make your workspace your own inspirational oasis through art.
Photo credit: Petra Beanch, www.petrabenach.com
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