Art in the Workplace: Part 2 – Choosing Artwork

8 mins read

This article explains 5 tips for choosing artwork to display in the workplace.

Displaying artwork in the workplace has many benefits for the organization, the employees, and the customers that are able to view it. Dozens of research studies in Europe and the United States over the last decade have shown that thoughtfully chosen and placed artwork elevates moods and physical wellbeing, improves performance, and even strengthens interpersonal relationships between employees and clients. In this article we explain 5 tips for choosing artwork that is the right fit for your workplace.

If you are interested in the health benefits of placing art in the workplace, check out Part 1 in this series.

1. Choose a Theme
Before beginning to choose the artwork to be displayed in the office or workplace, we recommend first thinking of a theme. What message would you like the artwork to communicate? The artwork that is chosen for the workplace should speak to who the organization is by communicating an appropriate message of your business objectives and values. The pieces that are displayed need to fit the company’s style and should also be relevant to what work the business does. Once the theme has been chosen, you can then ask what kind of environment you would like to create. Would you like a sense of calm and tranquility, or are you wanting to “wow” any visitors? Bold, progressive pieces tend to give a fun or playful vibe, while traditional pieces create a sense of sophistication and reliability.

For example, if the company is focused on local business, then it would be ideal to have artwork of the city where your business is centered. If the work involves creativity and innovation, pop art, abstract pieces, and striking photography would be the most suitable. More conservative fields would most likely want traditional pieces that create that sense of security and stability. A pediatrician’s office might have artwork with cute animals, or pieces that appeal to a younger audience.

2. Consider Colours
The next tip to consider is the colour scheme of the artwork. It is important to understand the effect colours have on the feel and atmosphere of a space, as most of our response to a room is influenced by colour. Blues tend to improve focus, yellows enhance thinking ability and elevate mood, greens have a calming effect, and oranges promote creativity and confidence.

For more information on colour theory and how to create a pleasing colour palette, check out our series on Colour Theory for Marketing and Branding.

3. Don’t Limit Yourself
The 3rd tip we have when choosing artwork, is to not limit yourself to paintings, pictures, or wall hangings. When people think about artwork, they tend to only consider pictures that hang on the walls. Artwork doesn’t need to be framed! Consider adding other mixed media art pieces such as vases, ceramics, statues, felt pieces, or even furniture. It can be quite surprising what a beautiful, well-placed bench can do for a space! Plants are also a great way to add living décor to an office or workspace, while also providing a great deal of benefits. Exploring artwork outside of simple framed wall hangings can be very fun and will allow more creativity to be expressed within the workspace.

4. Effective Placement
Once you have a vision of what artwork would represent the company well and augment the workspace, it is important to consider the placement. Incorporate variations of the same theme throughout the office. As employees and clients move throughout the workspace, they’ll have a sense of continuity regarding the message.

The first area that is important to consider is the lobby, or entrance area where people will receive a first impression of the company. It is great to showcase the company logo in an eye-catching format, while displaying a clear theme. This is also a great area to set the mood! Flowers or plants are very welcoming, sculptures tend to give a sophisticated air, and water features can be soothing or compelling depending on the size and sound.

Here are some other areas to consider putting thought into for placement of artwork:

    • Shared Spaces – The lunchroom for example, should have a broad appeal and encourage conversation.
    • High-Traffic Areas – It is recommended to have artwork that suggests movement and enhances productivity.
      Employee Workstations – Serves as a focal point for eyes to rest.
    • Conference Room – Coax creative thinking with pieces such as landscapes and portraits.
    • Bathrooms and Hallways – Don’t forget to include these for artistic design!

5. Include Employees
The final tip for choosing artwork in the workplace is to include the employees in the design process! When employees have a workstation or space to themselves, it is important to let them choose artwork (with approval of course), as they know what will help them be most productive. Researchers from the University of Exeter’s School of Psychology found that people who work in office spaces which they decorated themselves are 32% more productive than those who aren’t allowed to decorate!1

The Art of Choosing Artwork
Following the 5 tips above will help you in successfully choosing and placing artwork that is the right fit for your company. Successful workplace artwork involves sticking to a theme, carefully choosing colours, adding a variation of artwork, placing the art appropriately, and including employees in the process. There truly is an art to choosing artwork!

Download this resource Art in the Workplace Part 2 – Choosing Artwork.

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1 “Designing Your Own Workspace Improves Health, Happiness and Productivity.” University of Exeter. http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_98638_en.html

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