Art and culture have a transformative effect on our communities.
Being in the presence of art, particularly fine artworks, has been shown to benefit workers by doing everything from reducing stress and boosting creativity.
Hosting local art not only supports the artists in the surrounding community, but creates an opportunity for increased social engagement in the space.
Art is an important tool to inspire us, to help us understand our lives and the lives of others, our history, our cultures, our emotions – everything that makes up the human experience.
In the words of the great artist, Pablo Picasso, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Part of our traditional everyday lives is the time spent at work, so why not include art in the workplace to help wash away the dust of work?
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Including art in workplace design goes well beyond finding a piece to match the couches. Being in the presence of art, particularly fine artworks, has been shown to benefit workers by doing everything from reducing stress and boosting creativity to inspiring conversations and increasing social engagement.
In a study led by Dr. Craig Knight with the University of Exeter, they found that people working in an office with art and plants worked 15% more quickly than those working in “lean” environments with nothing more in the space than what was required to complete their tasks. If people were able to arrange the art and plants themselves, in what the researchers called an “empowered” space, their productivity was around 30% higher than those in a very spartan office space.
Art can also physically benefit a space beyond just filling a blank wall. By enhancing a workspace with art, there is an opportunity to further define and showcase your company brand, culture, and values. A cutting edge or modern space should select pieces that align with that aesthetic. Similarly, traditional spaces or businesses should opt for artwork that is more classical.
In addition to enhancing the aesthetics of a workspace, art can also act as a way to define physical space and help with wayfinding around a building. As described by design experts at PLASTARC in a recent article for WorkDesign Magazine, “Workplaces can often feel like a maze of desks, hallways, and doors. Because our brains hold onto memorable environmental features, art can usefully function as a landmark, helping people traveling through a space to remember where they’ve been. It can also come in handy when providing directions.”
Cultural resources, such as artists & galleries, public art, entertainment venues, news outlets, and bookstores, play an important role in the health of neighborhood ecosystems. The number of cultural assets in a neighborhood or community have been linked to better health, schooling, and security according to research conducted by the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.
“From personal experiences with works of art, to regional economic development—no matter how you look at it, art and culture have a transformative effect on our communities,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl in the University of Pennsylvania release about the study.
Another benefit of filling a workspace with art is the opportunity to showcase and support local artists in your community. This has long been a strategy with brands like Serendipity Labs, which uses space in many of its locations as art galleries. Some of the benefits for artists to show their work in a workspace include the ability to have the art in front of more potential customers, and for those same customers to be able to envision the art in their own homes since the pieces are displayed in a lived space.
For the workspace, hosting local art not only supports the artists in the surrounding community, but creates an opportunity for increased social engagement in the space. Art show opening events can bring new customers to the space as well as help support the community for existing customers. By having the exhibits rotate after several months, it can also help the workspace stay fresh and interesting.
Whether you choose to host rotating exhibitions, or invest in permanent art installations, including art in your workspace is a good idea for the wellbeing of workers as well as the broader community.
Jamie Orr, PhD is the cofounder of Jellyswitch, enabling the best possible experience for your flexible workspace. She also co-founded Cowork Tahoe, situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe. When not helping grow the flexible workspace movement, she is likely offering unsolicited science fun facts or chasing her two daughters on the mountain trails.