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Art & offices: How important is artwork in a commercial setting 31 May 2017

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Bruntwood has been working with Manchester School of Art to develop artwork for many of its offices over the past three years, but what’s the benefit of art in an office setting?

What constitutes a piece of art? Is it the design? The shape? Or perhaps the manner in which the work is created? According to the Oxford Dictionary, artwork can be illustrations, photographs, or other non-textual material prepared for inclusion in a publication. But what impact does working around art have on us?

According to Arts Council England, a higher frequency of engagement with arts and culture is generally associated with a higher level of subjective wellbeing. In addition to this, those who had attended a cultural attraction or event (like an art gallery, exhibition or other art-related event) in the previous 12 months were almost 60 per cent more likely to report good health than those who had not. When delivered effectively, there is no doubt that art has the power to facilitate the pursuit of creative ideas.

Paintings, prints and installations in the office take artwork out of the traditional setting of a gallery or museum and places them in front of professionals who may not regularly interact with art. In the simplest way, artworks brighten up a commercial space by adding colour to bare walls. Yet when we look at the impact of artwork in the office in more depth, the benefits are much more widespread.

Employee productivity
In most cases, art is aesthetically pleasing for office workers. While they are deep in thought, considering their latest business strategy or which areas of the company need improving, focusing on a piece of exciting artwork could provide them with the inspiration they need to create great results.

Drew Hendricks wrote in Forbes that art inspires workers, and this is why motivational posters often include images of perfect sunsets, sandy beaches and stunning landscapes. Art helps unlock creative potential, and in turn, generates innovative ideas that contribute to new business practices and promotional campaigns.

When clients come into the office, art can help them feel relaxed and less as though they are in a business setting. It helps show personality and reflects the attitude of a room and, indeed, of a business. A piece of artwork that tells a story or has depth to it can also help both parties connect, acting as a talking point.

According to a survey by the BCA and International Association of Professional Art Advisors (IAPAA), establishing a positive relationship between job productivity, stress, morale, creativity, and art in the workplace across industries is crucial. In fact, the report revealed that 82 per cent of workers believe art is important in the work environment, and 73 per cent think their view of a company would change if art was removed from the workplace.

Utilising local talent
For the past three years, Bruntwood has worked with the Manchester School of Art (MSA) on ‘Unit X’, a project that helps showcase local and upcoming artists. As part of their annual curriculum each year, students at MSA have their artwork displayed in Bruntwood buildings and offices located around the city. Bruntwood get some interesting and thought provoking work as a result, and in return students across many disciplines (interior design, product design, landscape and architecture, textiles, film and animation) are able to develop their understanding of business by getting their work in front of clients.

Simon Bushell is Bruntwood’s arts coordinator and has been working closely with MSA on the ‘Unit X’ project, recently installing several pieces at their Oxford Place building. “It’s very important that the finishes throughout our buildings are of a high-standard, and that our customers feel that all the spaces have been considered - the provision of art is very much a part of that” he said.

“Our relationship with MSA came as natural fit as Bruntwood have a proven track record in promoting local and emerging talent - collaborating with the Unit X initiative allows us to explore those opportunities further. I think it’s also important for people to experience art beyond formal gallery spaces, and this project helps us do that.

“People can spend a lot of their time in the office, and art of any kind can help to make that experience more rewarding. It’s always great to see companies investing in what might be regarded as a hidden benefit.”

Among other arts based projects, Bruntwood have also recently invested in a major digital art installation at its’ flagship building, Neo - a permanent display not just for their customers, but also open to the public. The latest work on show, Fermata, was produced by Brendan Dawes. Fermata visualises the real time interactions in and around the building to create a constantly evolving artwork.

Following the successes in Manchester, Bruntwood is now looking to pursue similar projects with university arts faculties in Leeds, Liverpool, and Birmingham.

Interested in our offices?  Check out our available spaces today. 

MSA Oxford Place artwork.jpg
MSA Oxford Place.jpg