Designing the office: Art in the workplace

6th September 2021 | 4 min read

Art in the workplace can take on many forms, including paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures. You might even consider investing in the progressively popular non-fungible token crypto digital art, which could be displayed on screens around the office.

And studies, such as those conducted by psychologists Dr Craig Knight and Professor Alex Haslam in association with the University of Exeter, have shown that enriching a workplace with elements such as art can help boost employees’ moods, wellbeing and productivity, indicating its importance in ensuring a business is and continues to be successful.

“Art has a psychological and moral impact on our lives. It challenges us and affects our moods,” LABS and LabTech Art and F,F&E Director Maria Berger, says.

“Within the office we can sometimes work in a very automatic way, trying to deliver everything quickly without really taking a pause to reflect about the work you’re doing. Art in a workspace confronts you with questions, which can help remind you of your purpose and the value in what you’re doing.”

“It can provide some mental respite, enabling people to be inspired; recharged and reconnected with themselves. Additionally, art elevates office designs and adds colour to our lives.”

Here we delve into the impact art can have in an office environment and what you need to know to start your own collection.

Putting art into a workspace

Curating art in a workspace could be considered an art form itself as there are many considerations to weigh up when bringing art into the office.

Diversity is a key issue when thinking about the type of art you’d like to have in your workspace to ensure you are conscious of the cultural aspects of any artworks you are interested in.

For instance, Maria, who worked within the hotel sector prior to joining LABS and LabTech, explains that some of her projects were within the Middle East and this meant having to be aware and knowledgeable about all Arabic customs and traditions.

Similarly, the representation of women, nudity and diversity in art that is destined for the workplace also needs to be given thought through carefully.

“Even though a place like London is vibrant and inclusive you still have to think of these things and be discerning in your art selections,” Maria says. “You don’t really want to include art that could distress or make someone feel uncomfortable. You always need to be very mindful of the people that the space is serving.”

In introducing art to an office, you also need to consider the image you want to project of the business and how employees and clients will interact with it.

Then you will need to examine the layout of the office to work out the best locations within the space, what art works will fit within those locations and complement the office’s colour palette.

For Maria the ideal location to place art is the spot where it can catch the eye the moment someone raises their head from their computer screen. This is because the art can then create a moment in which a person can break off from the task at hand and the stresses of the day to reflect and hopefully be inspired. “These are the balances I’m trying to achieve while curating,” she says.

However, it’s always sensible to check your lease agreement and speak with your landlord or operator of the workplace where you have your office to ensure you understand what you can actually install into your workspace. This is because your landlord may not allow certain changes to the space or the building you are in may be protected due to its historical importance by Historic England, an executive non-departmental public body of the government tasked with protecting and preserving the country’s historic buildings, parks, gardens and ancient monuments. For example, LABS and LabTech’s latest workplace, Victoria House, is Grade II listed and this listing means that some of its walls are protected and therefore drilling holes to hang artworks is not permitted.

Art at LABS office space

Art at LABS

At LABS we look to promote emerging artists, predominantly working directly with them to provide opportunities to display their work.

“We want to display art that is more achievable for people, that they can look at, reflect on and be able to wonder how it might look in their office space or homes and maybe overall engage people in art further,” Maria says.

“Our goal is to turn our walls into sort of a rolling display for artists to enable as many to be given the opportunity to reach out to as many people, which I believe that we can do with our workplaces across London.

“It will also be refreshing for our members as it can provide them with visual excitements rather than seeing the same things in the same spaces every day.

“My mission as an art curator of commercial spaces is to get people more engaged with art in their everyday activities, to show that art does not have to be confined to museums and galleries. Art can be in your life without you having to put in too much effort – You just have to raise your head from your screen.”