Art in the workplace: a nicety or a necessity?

What our sector is saying

Work Design Now published an article recently on The Value of Art in the Workplace. The author, Jeffrey Sklaver, makes a strong case that “art is a critical component – on par with light, air, ergonomics and quiet spaces – in the ongoing conversation about methods for making employees feel better about their environment and more productive at work.”

Businesses viewing art as a nicety

The problem, he says, is that many businesses view art as a “nicety and not a necessity”. When it comes to commercial refurbishment, our experience does suggest that businesses have taken the view that art is a nicety and not a necessity. As workplace designers, often we must identify cost effective alternatives to successfully balance creativity with the client’s business objectives.

Practical benefits of art in the workplace

It can feel awkward to broach the subject of planning for art at the design stage. Especially when you know the client is focused on funding the cost of change and getting maximum return on investment. However, if more companies in our sector continue the dialogue about the value of art in offices then organisations will come to recognise its practical benefits which include:

  • breaking up and defining large, open plan areas;
  • reinforcing company culture;
  • authentically communicating brand values; and
  • contributing to a healthier work environment by addressing psychological as well as physical needs.

Art we chose for our space

Karen from Cupola Gallery helped us source the contemporary art for our own space.

Four Jerseys print by artist Rob Lee 

Four Jerseys print by artist Rob Lee

We love ‘Four Jerseys’ by Rob Lee because it references the Tour De France passing through Sheffield.

We had a front row seat for the Tour De France in 2014. 
We had a front row seat for the Tour De France in 2014.

Picture on the left is Threshold II. Picture on the right is Displacement. Both by the artist, Mandy Payne.

We referenced another element of local culture by displaying two of Mandy Payne’s paintings of Sheffield’s iconic Park Hill Flats. The one on the left is an original painting and the one on the right is a print. They are part of a series of work she made after a study of un-refurbished, derelict portions of the site. The flats are presently being successfully regenerated.

As so much of our work comes from commercial refurbishments, this struck a chord. We’re not daunted when we see derelict workplaces because we can see the possibilities. And we know how to roll up our sleeves and turn it into workspace anyone would be proud of.

Aside from the fact they look excellent next to our two Jonty chairs, these pictures appealed for other reasons. Park Hill Flats are a highly visible landmark in the Sheffield skyline while also being a fine example of Brutalist architecture. In addition to that, we also love the fact that Mandy Payne created the original works using concrete and aerosol paint. It’s a bit unusual and felt like a cheeky nod to our construction expertise.

 

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