See + Hear + Heart
Blues form the colors of the sea and sky. In some way, they ground us. Soothe our souls. The dimensions and layers of blues in a crystal clear ocean are breathtaking. The midnight navy of the sky is spellbinding. This season offers a spectrum of blues to incorporate into your home from original art to paint to unusual furniture. The ultimate fun in interior design are the infinite ways to combine styles, patterns, colors and shapes to express your individuality. Hopefully, these items will spark your inspiration.
Image Credits: Unknown; Benjamin Moore and Ralph Lauren
Image Credits: Total Wallcovering; F Schumacher and Cole and Son
Image Credits: TobiasTovera, Design for Mankind; “The Abyss” Original Art by Jen; Paintings by KEGilmore
Image Credits: Jonathan Adler; Edward Fields and Unknown
Image Credits: Murano (chandelier); Instyle-Decor (glass lamp) and the rest unknown
Image Credits: Hollywood Inc. (1st chair); DelaWarr Pavilion Chair (2nd row); Brabbou Saari Sofa, Boa sofa
During my Midwestern walkabout, as I refer to it, I stumbled upon a hidden treasure owned by this very cool and eloquent man. As a lover and collector of mid-century modern furniture and design, I was missing my jaunts in Los Angeles and Phoenix where I would typically get my thrills. Dave’s store, Mad Modern, thankfully gave my heart a new beat.
In this interview, Dave shares his story of turning his hobby and love for mid-century modern furniture and design into a business where people can learn more and purchase some outstanding classics. Check out our chat.[av_video src=”https://youtu.be/7d8uC9QpkK0″ format=’16-9′ width=16′ height=9′]
Feature Image from LA Modern, Edward Wormley’s Listen-to-Me Couch
Art is a representation of the human experience. It takes us through the spectrum of human emotions from laughter to anger; despair to hope. It taps our intellect by questioning or reinforcing our beliefs. It possesses the power to ignite our creativity and expand our view of the world. Art frames our perspective of the world.
The business case for fine art in a commercial setting (classroom, healthcare, government facility or professional office) is fairly simple. It helps define the business’ brand to employees, customers and vendors. In various studies, the results show that art increases productivity by 15%. Any savvy business person knows that if employees have some sort of voice in selecting workplace art from viable options, their happiness, job satisfaction and pride in themselves as well as the company increases. These types of results typically contribute to employment longevity.
After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours and life in some type of work environment. Job satisfaction is a big deal. According to Anne Stamats, Founder of Black Earth Gallery, “Original, fine art is exceptionally important in the work environment. It sets a mood that shows both employees and clients that their state of mind is important. It also supports artists locally, regionally and nationally. It can play a large role in attracting more talented and intelligent employees.”
Chart courtesy of International Art Consultants
Watch this interview for one company’s employees’ feedback to their fine art collection:
Most businesses are aware of some of these benefits, but are unsure about where and how to start incorporating fine art into the workspace. My art experts and I have collaborated on some starting basics, starting with style.
Fine art typically encompasses paintings, photography, ceramics and sculpture. The most common workplace styles are in the landscape/nature genre as well as abstract paintings and photographs. The style and type of fine art does vary between industries. According to Anne, “Different industries should think about what is appropriate in their work environment. for examples, healthcare spaces need to create calming environments for patients and visitors. Therefore landscape and nature images accomplish these goals and are easy to understand when viewed.”
In addition to the style of art, “The subject matter of the images is imperative to consider first. What you might place in a health care environment might not be the ideal artwork for a law practice,” states Ted Decker, Private Art Dealer/Independent Curator/Art Educator. Ted takes type and subject matter to another level for his corporate clients by establishing art curation and collection processes. “These include providing employees a formal way to provide their feedback to artwork that is especially placed by their space. This type of policy allows for employees to buy-in to the program and maximizes the benefits of placing art in the office.”
As with all purchase considerations, once you identify your style, then it is time to budget for acquisitions.
The budget to allocate filling space is a unique proposition. Several variables such as space, type of business and industry, overall interior furnishings budget, number of employees and work stations, meeting rooms and more factor into setting an art budget. Anne suggests starting at five percent of the building cost. Whatever the final percentage is, it is really important to dedicate funding for original, fine art.
Anne related that some companies express concern over investing in art for the fear of looking bad. “My response is to remind them that they are asking clients to spend a considerable amount of money with them. The type of art on the walls does correlate to the company’s product or service pricing. Companies that charge premium prices are essentially expected to reflect their standards with the interiors of their offices, including their art.”
“There is a way to provide high-quality, original fine art and pay attention to budget. Some of my clients have interwoven student fine art with the work of more established fine artists,” shares Ted. “This type of approach provides emerging artists the opportunity to receive both income and exposure, provides the company with the opportunity to support both local businesses and artists and can provide both their business and selected artists with public relations opportunities. These win-win scenarios are important and beneficial to all parties.”
Ted reminds clients to budget a framing allowance. In tandem, if art is purchased for shipping to your location, it is wise to invest in the proper shipping packaging and service to protect your investment.
Both Anne and Ted reiterate to their clients that fine art is an investment and can be treated like other company assets. As with other assets, the size, quality and investment of each piece should correlate to its placement.
Art in the office should have designated places. According to Anne, “when planning art collections and installations, I factor in peoples’ need to have their eyes rest on walls or spaces that don’t have anything on them. Too much art creates visual overload.” Visual overload can become distracting and draining for employees as well as visitors. “Even when I look at the blueprints and plan spaces, I still do a walk through to feel the space. During this process, I pay attention to walls that might “scream” at me for a work of art. When that happens I listen. That “feel” is usually accurate. This is advice I extend to people for their homes as well.”
Even though some art might be more visibly seen then others, such as the reception lobby versus an employee kitchen, it can be tempting to mix original, fine art with mass-produced art to save money. The result usually sends mixed messages and is not aesthetically balanced or pleasing. Mass-produced art can have its place, but it provides no true brand DNA distinction which is important to emphasis to employees, vendors and clients. Original, fine art is memorable; a desire of every company.
“Art is like the frosting on the cake. You can spend a fortune on a building or build-out, but we all know the real refinement of a space comes down to the frosting,” declares Anne. That frosting can be sweetened with time. You can start off with fewer, high-quality original fine artworks and expand the collection in increments. Ted creates strategic plans for his clients to assist them in building a long-term collection. His plans can include permanent and rotating pieces.
Investing in original, fine art, “gives your workspace a personality that truly distinguishes the company’s brand DNA. It shows community support and makes your business appear more intelligent. In today’s competitive talent race, the quality of life inside and outside of the office is a winning factor,” notes Anne.
Watch this video to see one of the most interesting, expansive and beautiful collections in an office:
Art in your workplace can literally improve your company’s bottom-line through the acquisition of the happy, intelligent, creative and productive talent and a reputation for community goodwill. Please reach out to the experts in this article to assist you in establishing your company’s visual voice.
Black Earth Gallery
Featured art ‘Listen’ by Beth Ames Swartz.
How do you transform a space filled with fairly common colors, odd-shaped rooms, mismatched and traditional furniture into a contemporary haven of professionalism and fun? Here are my design notes on how to do just that.
Change this traditional reception desk into a show-stopper statement piece of furniture and leave the back wall open for company signage. Switch out doctor office style guest chairs into two elegant and comfortable chairs with a table in between. Since the intention is for guests to be greeted by the receptionist and shortly thereafter meet with their scheduled person, I reduced the number of chairs and upgraded the quality and style of them to provide a visual warm welcome and reinforce the company’s on-time meetings philosophy.
The existing table will stay as well the accent wall. For the table, my changes include an easy transition from traditional to contemporary through chairs. In fact, I would make all the chairs grey except for two white chairs at the heads of the table. I would change the accent wall color to match the primary brand color. The long empty wall behind the table can showcase an incredible piece of original art or illustrate the company’s mission with words similar to the format illustrated in the image below. If budget allows, I would layer the wall with an image or contemporary wallpaper for added visual interest.
The main office area includes one big room that has space for desks. There are three individual offices that are only accessible through this big room. The idea is to create a cohesive space amongst these multiple rooms and large open-work environment. The three offices have cool contemporary bean-shaped desks in white with glass tops and chrome legs. However, these desks are no longer available. My solution is to repeat those design elements with another type of desk in the same style but different design. I would change all of the black chairs from black to white or grey will also create a congruent, contemporary space. The individual offices would reuse the existing white chairs as guest chairs. They are the right design and color so they are ideal to include and will save money.
The walls provide generous space for original and commanding art. Art that reflects the brand, anchors the environment and creates harmony.
NOTE: By not repeating the same desk type and choosing similar but different chairs, you can visual create the staff hierarchy within a shared space. I would put the higher back chairs in a darker color in the offices and keep lower back, lighter chairs in the main area for the support staff.
The office has generous wall space to showcase some unique retail and original artwork. Since they expressed an interest in nature themes, I suggested a few directions on this theme presented through a modern lens. Art is like adding the perfect accessories to a little black dress.
Of course, there are many more items that can and should be incorporated into the office to make the space functional as well as presentable. The goal with commercial design is to start at least three months out, budget appropriately, hire a professional from the start and invest in furniture, especially chairs that will last several years. Short-term choices in lower quality items will most likely need to be replaced, thus doubling the design budget over time.
Have some ideas that you want to implement? Just reach out. I love design challenges.