Ever since John Rockefeller decided to acquire art for Chase Manhattan in the 1950s, corporate art collecting has taken off, building a close relationship between businesses and contemporary art. This relationship has changed constantly over time with corporate art acquisition and collection evolving from a public relations strategy to deeper integration within all levels of the organization. A growing number of corporations are acquiring original contemporary art to enhance the work environment, communicate company culture and values, and reflect the philanthropic and socially-responsible side of the business.
Selecting artwork for corporate collections can be a tough task as it takes more than trying to make a room look pretty or hanging pictures on office walls. In this guide, we share useful tips on how to choose art for office and corporate spaces that will enrich employee experiences, impress your clients, and build your corporate art collection.
Before you start investing in an art collection, it is important to clearly outline what your brand represents and your company's values and identity. Keep into consideration your company's culture, spirit, mission, and the character you would like to convey to your employees, clients, and the outside world through your art collection.
Aspects like the theme, color, and size of an artwork help in forming the story you want to share with your employees and clients.
For Shiseido’s Asia HQ in Singapore, we curated a collection of works by Asian artists, with a focus on Japanese and Singaporean artists, to complement the strong culture, sophistication and innovation of the company.
Just like how organizations need a business strategy to grow, having strategy for collecting art is equally critical in ensuring your art collection stays true to its goal of conveying your company's brand, culture, and personality. Setting rules upfront will guide you on what to acquire and why.
To get started, know the audience and the high-traffic areas of your office. Do you have clients or potential clients visiting your office or is it largely used by your employees? This will help in assessing your space and selecting the right places to focus on for your art collection. You may wish to install a large artwork in the lobby to create a lasting first impression on your clients or visitors. Similarly, having vibrant, energetic and fun artworks in the meeting rooms, hallways or pantry areas can spark creativity or uplift employees' moods in the office.
JustCo, Seoul Tower, Seoul, South Korea
For JustCo's very first and only tower, The Artling worked closely with two talented South Korean artists to produce both murals and framed artworks for the centre. Still representative of their unique styles, both artists created artworks that were also seamlessly complementary to the space. The pieces installed were deeply influenced by the local culture and landscape of Seoul.
Have a clear understanding of the goals and aesthetics behind a collection. Think about what effect you want and what message your clients or employees are taking away. Do you want to project your organization as a young, fun, and high-energy startup or does your industry prefer a more classical and professional way to connect with art? For corporate art collections, it helps to play it safe and avoid artworks with nudity, violence, or politically controversial content.
Focus on the scope of your clients and visitors. Ensure that your art collection adds to the experience of your clients, be it displaying works from local artists or using customized art to remind them of your global reach.
JMD & Openspace Ventures, Singapore
The Artling worked with JMD & Openspace Ventures to commission local artist Aeropalmics for a six-storey mural for their office space at North Canal Road. The artist drew their inspiration from the themes of old and new Singapore. From the ground up to the office floors of JMD & Openspace Ventures, the artist incorporated familiar iconic areas of Singapore such as the Toa Payoh playground, followed by the fast evolution of technology to represent Openspace Ventures, to cityscapes of tall buildings and properties to symbolize JMD as a company.
Seek your employees' views either through in-person conversations or anonymous feedback. After all, happy workers; happy clients. Unlike the practice in days past where corporate art collections were largely driven by the CEO's personal interest in art, in the current work culture, workplaces are becoming increasingly driven by the wants and needs of millenials, entirely transforming how corporations look at collecting art.
Usually, decisions related to the art being considered for the collection should be made by an expert and someone whose interest and tenure will last for a long time. An even better option is to have an art committee to add variety to your art collection while keeping different levels of the organization involved in the process. Give this committee some operating guidelines, basic do's and don'ts, goals, and budget for the year. The committee's scope can be expanded to suggest art and cultural events, to further involve the rest of the company's employees in the process of building the collection.
Swarovski, Chengdu, China
While there is no straightforward way to answer this, the budget for your corporate art collection varies across businesses. Larger businesses can have bigger budgets and can afford to buy blue-chip art or commission statement pieces. These budgets are often used to acquire art responsibly and have an impact by supporting local and diverse artist communities or contributing to cultural causes aligned with their company values.
Companies with limited budgets can start with smaller works by established artists or invest in works of newer and younger artists whose works match the company's spirit and personality. Growing companies can set an annual percentage, or fixed amount aside and eventually build up the budget. The key point to note is you don't need a large budget to add art to your corporate office. You can keep it simple and just focus on key areas in your office.
There are instances when corporations need additional help either due to lack of expertise in art or simply finding the entire process overwhelming. A common practice in such a stage is to bring in a professional corporate art consultant. You can work with an art consultant to build your corporate art collection and even help with sourcing artwork, custom installations, project management, and maintenance to safeguard your art investment.
The Great Room, Centennial Tower, Singapore
The Great Room, Centennial Tower is the second space to open after its first location at One George Street. The Artling carefully sourced art pieces that accompany the luxurious finishings while enhancing the Grade A office space to create a conducive atmosphere for their members to conduct business, collaborate, create and explore
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