7 reasons why you should start a corporate art collection

There is a reason why larger businesses have a corporate art collection. From financial benefits to marketing opportunities, art in the workplace can go a long way. 

Corporate art collections are hardly a new concept. It all started with banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller, the father of modern corporate art collecting. In the late 1950s, Rockefeller decided that longtime family-associated Chase Manhattan Bank should start acquiring art. 

Rockefeller began a trend where art transcended decoration and became a means of communication with the public. Today, the JPMorgan Chase Art collection is one of the oldest and largest corporate art collections in the world.

JP Morgan corporate art collection
J.P Morgan Chase Art Collection. Credit: Paris Photo

The list of financial institutions with an impressive corporate art collection also includes Deutsche Bank, UBS and Bank of America.

Why are such industry giants investing in corporate art? The reasons are manifold.

1. Investment in culture

Businesses may get involved in an art program by sponsoring or commissioning art. Companies can also organise art events to engage with new target audiences and get closer to customers and the community in general.

2. Strong company image

Art increases the corporate image among the public as well as its stakeholders. It conveys vision and drive. Having art, particularly modern art, implies a forward-thinking corporation with a positive attitude.

Duchy of Lancaster corporate art collection
Duchy of Lancaster, corporate art collection. Credit: Workplace Art

3. Boosting sales

 Companies that have art in the workplace are perceived as influential, sophisticated and trustworthy. To put it differently, a corporate art collection is bound to impress customers, which in turn, will lead to an increase in sales.

4. Business competitive advantage

Business companies, especially financial institutions like Deutsche Bank, can put their art knowledge to good use and offer art 'buy and sell' consultancy services to their customers.

microsoft art collection
Katz Frey, Microsoft Art Collection. Credit: Michael Klein Arts

5. Corporate hospitality

Art in the workplace lightens the mood. It creates a nice work environment, peppered with personality and, if the genre suits the business, humour.

6. Supporting the art community

By investing in art, whether it be local or international, companies are openly supporting the community. Businesses with limited budgets can start with the works of younger, less-established artists. Conversely, bigger companies can and should start big, then choose newer artists whose work points to the future.

Wall street company with corporate art collection
Sciame office, 14 Wall Street. Corporate art collection featuring artist Derek Fordjour. Photo via Real Art Muse

7. Enhanced productivity

Happier employees tend to be more productive and an increase in productivity can soon lead to an increase in profits. Having art in the workplace increases creativity and efficiency, making for an enhanced work environment.

According to a 2013 research by the British Council for Offices, 61% of workers agree that artwork inspires them to think and work more creatively.

Opening photo: Deutsche Bank, "Art Works"

How can beacons help you manage a smarter office?

 

Improved experiences and innovative navigation systems – the smarter office is underway thanks to tiny devices called beacons.

This post is the first of a three-part series on workplace innovations.

Beacons have already percolated into high-traffic spaces like airports, museums, stadiums and even retail stores. In recent years, this Bluetooth smart technology has also expanded to the workplace with many companies jumping on the bandwagon.

What are beacons?

Beacons are small, low-cost, low-powered devices that can be used to deliver location-aware, context-aware messages. They can be likened to small computers which broadcast radio signal. Those signal are, in turn, picked up and interpreted by your phone. Personalized content is then displayed as a notification on your screen. Nearby screens can also be used to display relevant information.

There are several major beacon hardware on the market: Estimote, Gimbal, Gelo, Glimworm, BlueSense, and Kontakt. Among these, Estimote is one of the most well-known manufacturers.

location beacons for a smart office

How can beacons help you manage a smarter office?

Navigation

Larger office spaces are trickier to navigate and beacons can remedy to that by guiding new guests or prospects to a particular room, thus cutting a lot of wasted time.

Footfall

Beacons can help identify high and low-traffic areas in your office. In large offices, in particular, gathering location data of all employees can help you determine which areas are more used than others. This information can be shared with, say, the lighting department to help you run a greener office.

proximity beacons estimote

Office layout

Based on the location data of employees, you could design a smarter office, tweak desk layouts based on where staff actually moves around at work.

Office management

Beacons can facilitate booking conference rooms in busy offices. For this application, beacons must be installed at the entrance of every conference room and employees need to install an app on their phones. Based on information from the beacons, employees can check if the room is free, and book accordingly, or, if already occupied, find out when the meeting will be over.

estimote beacon

Check out the next post on Workplace Innovations, featuring high-tech Ketra lighting.

Loos with views: the smallest rooms with the grandest vistas

They may be small, but their importance isn't to be underestimated, for loos with views can lead to increased property value. 

washroom over glass floor
Toilet perched over a disused 15-story elevator shaft, Mexico 

Whether it be in the workplace, retail or hospitality, washrooms are a key expression of the company values. Organisations that value and understand the power of first impressions will go above and beyond to impress. High-end washroom countertops, top-notch fixtures and spectacular views all show your attention to detail and highlight your level of commitment. Believe it or not, loos with views command higher rent too. 

 

To inspire and convince you, here is a roundup of some of the most unusual of toilets, boasting the most striking of views. Be it in an office building, a public facilities, or a seemingly inconspicuous coffee shops, loos with views are there to steal the show. 

We have a personal preference (hint, it involves two-way mirrors), but what is yours? Share your favourite on our Twitter page.

washroom-in-the-shard-with-view-over-london
The toilets inside The Shard boast stunning views of London
urinals inside the Shard
Because it wouldn't be fair, the gents at the Shard enjoy similar London views as the ladies
loos with views inside commerzbank HQ
Commerzbank headquarters: urinals with a view over Frankfurt
urinal with a view in Japan
The JR Tower in Japan is equipped with panoramic urinals
washroom in aquarium
Mumin Papa café - the women's bathroom is built into an aquarium, Akashi, Japan. 
two-mirror public toilet
Don't Miss A Sec', two-way mirror glass public toilet in London, Monica Bonvicini
Inside a two-way mirror toilet
Don't Miss A Sec', two-way mirror glass public toilet in London, Monica Bonvicini

Psychology of colour – what’s the best colour scheme for your office?

Colours are powerful marketing tools, they affect mood, and boost productivity. But which colour scheme is right for you and how do you choose? 

Each colour affects us differently. Red affects the body, blue stimulates the mind, yellow influences emotions and self-confidence, and green ties it all together by nurturing a balance between mind, body and emotions.

Intensity matters too. Bolder, brighter colours will stimulate, while colour with low saturation will soothe.

So which colour scheme should you go for? What is the perfect shade for corporate or creative businesses? Well, don't hate us, but... it depends.

Productive blue

meeting area with blue colour scheme
Russian social media network V Kontakte’s St. Petersburg Office, by Finnish design firm Gullstén-Inkinen

Widely recognised as the colour of productivity, blue helps employees focus on the task at hand. Most often used in offices where mind work prevails, blue is an excellent base to begin with, as long as you spice it up with warmer, accent tones in strategic places.

Positive yellow

open-plan office with yellow accents
Marketing agencies EMO and The Real Adventure's shared office space in Bristol. By The Interiors Group

Yellow is the most optimistic colour. It helps stimulate creativity and can often be found in a designer's office. Because of its bright tones, however, it tends to strain the eyes and cause fatigue and frustration if used throughout your office. For this reason, it is preferable to use yellow and orange as accent colours on walls.

Stimulating red

office reception area with red feature wall
Digital agency Station Four's office reception in Jacksonville, Florida. 

If you are in the building industry, or any industry that involves physical activities, red is your colour because it stimulates physical strength. Incidentally, red is also known to encourages appetite so why not integrate it in the breakout and kitchen area of your office?

Just like yellow tones, red is best used with moderation because it can over-stimulate employees, increase brain wave activities and heart rate, as suggested in a study by The University of Texas.

Calming green

workspace with green wall
Skyscanner's Budapest office, by Hungarian design studio Madilancos Studio

Where other colour associations can often be dependent on personal experiences, cultural differences, upbringing, etc., green as a synonym of nature seems to result in unanimity.

According to a study by The University of British Columbia, blues and greens have a soothing effect that helps reduce eye strain for employees who use computers. Green is therefore great for those who work long hours and, if you're feeling forward-thinking and adventurous, you can also take it one step further by going green and installing living walls in the workplace.

Neutral colours

Book publisher CPI Books' office in Melksham, by Interaction

Whites, greys and blacks can act as buffers to help tone down or liven up certain areas of your workplace. As usual, the key is balance. Embrace those contrasts and use accent walls to highlight a semi-private meeting area or transition from the reception area to the desk area.

As it turns out, the perfect colour scheme is a combination of colours.

Opening image: Masquespacio's Valencia office, Spain. Photography by Bruno Almela via Masquespacio

Base – the magnetic desk that will help maximise your workspace

Meet BASE - a customisable, multi-functional, magnetic desk that will set your office apart and increase staff efficiency. 

Smart, cutting-edge and in keeping with the modern worker's needs, BASE is a versatile desk with a simple but clever design element: a magnetic edge.

A steel rail runs around the edge of the desk, allowing you to clip, unclip and move all dedicated magnetic accessories anywhere you like along the edge of the desk.

Similar to hooks, these accessories come in all shapes and sizes and allow you to hang your bag, store your documents in folders and place your cup in a holder to avoid the dreaded spill.

magnetisk multifunctional office desk

No more stacks of documents, entangled charging cables and coffee stains on your desk – this magnetic desk puts an end to clutter and allows for a clean, nuanced workspace and a clear mindset.

Currently, there are six clip-on accessories available with many more in the works. The designers are also planning to release 3D data for users to be able to create their own accessories.

desk with flexible dividers

The BASE desk also comes with bespoke partitions that can be attached anywhere along the back or folded in half to fit around the corner of the magnetic desk. This feature makes BASE an ideal desk for busy open-plan offices where the need for private and collaborative spaces can vary from one day to the next.

Base desk with low partitions

Designed by Japanese studio NuAns, BASE was introduced to the market during the Milan Design Week where we had the chance to see its clever features for ourselves (and play with the magnets, of course.)

desk with cup holder
briefcase holder magnetic edge desk
base magnetci desk
All photography via NuAns

Ketra can add some natural light to your dark office

Since the invention of Ketra, natural light in the darkest corners of your cavernous office is no longer a pipe dream. 

This post is the second of a three-part series on workplace innovations. 

With its high-tech, dynamic LED technology, Ketra brings natural light into the built environment – not only that, it lets you control it with a flexible, fully integrated lighting and controls solution.

What makes it so different from some of its biggest contenders? It uses LED bulbs not only to emit light but also to receive it. This means an ever-changing, fluid lighting scheme that varies according to the time, your mood or the task at hand.

Ketra light inside RGA headquarters
Digital agency R/GA's 200,000-square-foot office in New York uses over 8,000 smart Ketra bulbs. By Foster And Partners

Founded in 2009 and led by Nav Sooch, lighting startup Ketra is focused on large-scale business installations and high-end offices are getting more and more curious about the promise of natural light. The list includes advertising giant R/GA, MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Tiffany's in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, Squarespace...

Squarespace New York office
Website builder Squarespace's New York office features Ketra lighting

The smart LED bulbs have begun to reshape modern offices and although they come at a price (each individual bulb costs as much as $100), they offer a solution to a problem that is all-to-common in the workplace: lack of natural lighting. Add the ability to control colour and intensity from a single application, and you've got yourself an office filled with potential.

Ketra lighting inside the Chicago art institute
The Art Institute of Chicago's first all-LED gallery uses Ketra bulbs

Emotional Light by Arturo Alvarez: sculptural lamps for a trendier office

Somewhere between sculpture and lamp, Emotional Light is as poetic as it is innovative – a combination that may well stand out in your office reception. 

One of the most talked-about displays at the Euroluce lighting fair this year has been Arturo Alvarez's lighting, inspired by nature and designed to evoke emotions. 

The exhibition, part of Milan's famous Salone del Mobile 2017, featured seven of Alvarez's collections, including a shell-shaped ceiling light and a floor lamp reminiscent of a brittle bird-nest. 

Although it was originally designed for homes, we think Arturo Alvarez's lighting has its place in the workplace too.

arturo alvarez conversas
Arturo Alvarez conversas

Poetic and playful at once, his lamps distinguish themselves through the use of patented SIMETECH®, a handcrafted material composed of a stainless steel mesh coated in silicone. Highly malleable, this mesh allows its designer to unleash its creativity and add a sculptural depth to his work.

This resulted in highly innovative, elegant and contemporary lighting solutions which, if placed strategically throughout your office, could leave a good impression on both employees and potential prospects. And since first impressions are the most lasting, we can already picture a set of the Pili pendant lights pictured below, hanging over the waiting area of your reception area.

Pili pendant lights Arturo Alvarez
Two Pili lamps lend some warmth in a concrete interior

If you want to set yourself apart and be considered as a modern, design-led workplace that also oozes personality, you should opt for state-of-the-art lighting that is sophisticated and down-to-earth at the same time. Not an easy balance to strike!

Pili table lamp Arturo Alvarez
Pili table lamp Arturo Alvarez
Onn wall light Arturo Alvarez
Onn ceiling light Arturo Alvarez
Ura pendant lights Arturo Alvarez
Ura painted steel mesh lamps Arturo Alvarez
Encontros Arturo Alvarez
encontros Arturo Alvarez
Opening image: Blum wall lamp, Arturo Alvarez

Republic interviews furniture designer-maker Gareth Neal

Some artisans value traditional craftsmanship, others praise digital manufacturing. Where Gareth Neal stands out is in his subtle manipulation of both at once. 

Hands-on furniture designer-maker Gareth Neal distinguishes himself by his blend of traditional tools with the latest computer controlled routers. This, combined with a fascination of historical techniques and aesthetics, roots Neal's design within a specific context with rich narratives and contextual reference points. 

We spoke to Gareth who talked about the limits of technology and traditional craftsmanship when used separately, and shared his love for collaborative design, among other things.

Portrait of Gareth Neal, photography: Petr Krejci
Republic (Re): Can you start by telling us a little bit about your background?
 

Gareth Neal (GN): I graduated with a BA in Furniture Design & Craftsmanship from High Wycombe in 1996 and established my design practice in east London where I’ve been based since 2002.

I’m constantly trying to reinvent myself.

Re: And what inspired you to go into furniture design? Is there anything in particular that affected your love of design?

GN: My dad was an archaeologist, so as a child I was always surrounded by historical objects. I became obsessed with scouring car boot sales for interesting objects... I still do it now. I had an inspiring teacher at college, who took me to see a furniture-making course at a university... and the rest is history!

Gareth Neal, photography: Alun Callender

Re: Your work is a subtle amalgamation of traditional fabrication techniques and digital manufacturing. When did you first start thinking about using digital mediums? What prompted the initial experimenting phase?

GN: The limits of technology and traditional craftsmanship have been a constant theme over the years in my design process. In 2006, when I first started getting better at drawing on computers, the two processes started to merge. The initial experiments I created were born from the limitations of certain craft techniques but also the need to elevate and advance craft to a contemporary setting.

Willow - wicker chair 

Re: The furniture you design and make is indisputably easy on the eyes but, and I’m sure you’ll agree, there is more to furniture than beauty. How do you combine aesthetics with function?

GN: I don’t always believe that is true, nor do I believe it’s necessary for all objects to be both aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian. It’s more about the placement of these objects in your life.

George chest of drawers, photography: Petr Krejci

Re: And what do you mean by "placement" exactly? Sometimes, can the purpose of an object be to make a statement, rather than be functional? 

GN: I think that the range of choice we have today when it comes to selecting objects to incorporate into our home is vast. As consumers, the choice is on our side and we can choose objects to surround us in our home for various reasons. They can be elegant and simple in design, beautiful objects really, but they don't necessarily need to be functional.

Modern Makers

Re: You have been exhibited worldwide, from London, through Milan, to New York… But you’re also a commission-based practice. Does your creative process differ when you are working on a bespoke piece? How big an impact do you think bespoke pieces like your reception desk for John Jones can have on a company’s image? 

GN: Commissions and bespoke work are completely different experiences, but are equally rewarding as design challenges. Bespoke creations can be very independent, ego-driven productions, while commissions involve the needs of a client. I think both offer interesting opportunities.

In a way, the Zaha Hadid Wish List as a collaborative project was an example of a successful undertaking. Having a specific brief and creating a tailored product to satisfy the brief can foster rich creative opportunities. Constraints can be enriching, creating ingenious ideas and other methods to think about something.

Jack, photography: Petr Krejci

Re: You recently talked about commissions and collaborative design at the London Craft week 2017. Can you share your favourite thing about commission work with us? 

GN: Working with other people is something I really enjoy and it opens up new directions in my design process. Working together and sharing ideas, knowledge and skills, truly yields interesting outputs.

Black Vesel, photoghraphy: Petr Krejci

Re: What are your impressions from the London Craft Week this year?

GN: London Craft Week brings together some of this city's most talented designers and makers, and with each passing year, it only seems to get better! What was really wonderful to see during my talk at the Carpenters Hall was the diversity of the people who were present. That to me is really inspirational.

Constraints can be enriching, creating ingenious ideas and other methods to think about something.

Re: Some of your pieces are limited edition, some are even one of a kind. Do you sometimes find yourself wanting to make more or are you constantly trying to reinvent yourself through your work? 

GN: To be honest, I feel like I’m constantly trying to reinvent myself, which is perhaps not necessary after practising design for the last 20 years. I enjoy the whole breadth of the design and craft world.

Gareth Neal, photography: Charlotte Schreiber

Re: If we were to walk in your Bethnal Green workshop today, what would we find in the making?

GN: I am constantly in the process of making plans – planning and scheduling projects, drawing plans for prototypes, plans for lunch. Jokes aside, I’m currently working on very exciting new designs that will be shown at Sarah Myerscough Gallery during Art Basel/Design Miami in June as well as sending a new body of work to Todd Merrill’s gallery in New York City.

 Jack cabinet and Gareth Neal, photography: Petr Krejci

Artists like Gareth Neal are the reason why we love collaborating with makers and artisans. If you would like Gareth's work to feature in your next Republic project, get in touch - we'll be glad to meet over coffee.

In the meantime, you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter

Seven ways to add colour to your office

Is your office lacking energy? Colour is an excellent way to liven up the workplace and infuse personality into your office environment. 

Skype offices, Stockholm. By PS Arkitektur

Did you know there is such a thing as a fear of colour? It is called chromophobia and it can lead to panic attacks and different levels of anxiety. For the majority of us, however, who love colours, it is now widely known that it has a positive influence on your wellbeing at the office. But where should you use it and how can you maximize the desired effect of your greens and blues?

Painting the walls of your office a certain shade of 'productive' is only one of many other ways to add colour to your workplace. You can also choose to liven up your office with bright, colourful furniture or frame your conference room in tinted glass; flooring and ceiling are not immune to colour either.

Before you take your pick, be sure to define your goals. Do you want to highlight all semi-private meeting rooms in your open-plan office? Are you trying to define or sectionalise areas of your office? Do you think your breakout space or reception area don't stand out enough?

Whatever your goal, colour can probably help you achieve it. Here are seven ideas to add colour to your office.

1. Colourful furniture

ECOM Recruitment, Marylebone, London. By Action Workspace

Choosing colourful furniture is one of the best ways to add a splash of colour to your office without having to revamp the entire floor. Bright furniture in an otherwise neutral office can help liven up your workspace but also define and separate certain areas by using a different colour scheme.

Above, the architects have opted for vibrant furniture in the waiting area to help separate it from the open place office.

2. Vibrant floor treatment

Insurance company Medibank's office building, Melbourne Australia. By Hassel

 Chromatic floor treatment is another effective tool when looking to define certain spaces with colour. This will allow you to set clearer, albeit conceptual boundaries, without putting up partitions.

Hassel's refreshing use of colour above appears to highlight corridors and circulation areas, while the various shades add a sense of playfulness to the office.

From tinted concrete, through border stripes on wood floors, to a patterned carpet, flooring can easily be made the centrepiece of your office. If you want to keep it simple yet personalised, why not have a custom logo made or inlaid into your floor?

3. Distinctive lighting

PR agency in Dubai, by Stella + the Stars. Photography: Elizabeth Argyll

Colourful lighting can transform a dull office into a quirky one, and it is an easy upgrade too. The clusters of lamps dotted around the office above can add some warmth and character to the interior, and when it comes to office lighting, you're spoilt for choice.

Use pendants over your reception desk or hang them above the conference table. And don't forget sconces to line those long, dark corridors.

 4. Statement staircase

Vinge Law Firm, by Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB. Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman

Nothing impresses more than a grand, curved staircase that winds up to the second floor of your office. Add colour to that, and you are bound to make a statement.

Notice how colour was used inside Swedish law firm Vinge, pictured above. Both the staircase and a small waiting area have been set apart through the use of colour – simple, elegant and above all, effective.

5. Bold artwork

Duchy of Lancaster, corporate art collection. Credit: Workplace Art

Paintings, sculptures, any form of artwork is bound to liven up your office by adding a dash of colour. Not sure where to start? Art in the workplace offers a lot of opportunities – Deutsche Bank's corporate art collection is bound to inspire.

6. Reviving plants

Large living wall inside Yoga clothing retailer Lululemon Athletica's office atrium in Vancouver, British Columbia. By Gustavson Wylie Architects

Green walls in the workplace are becoming increasingly popular – they make for a healthier environment, they can improve the acoustics in your room; they are a great way to add a punch of colour too.

Green walls in the workplace are becoming increasingly popular – they make for a healthier environment, they can improve the acoustics in your room; they are a great way to add a punch of colour too.

7. Creative murals

Facebook London's office in Regent's Place, Geo Law  

 Youth-oriented companies may consider street art murals to infuse some personality and energy into their workplace. Office murals make for great feature walls – hire an illustrator or graffiti artist and enjoy the benefits of a custom-made mural that can speak to the innovative, cutting-edge side of your business.

Mosaicomicro – eco glass tiles for your washroom

100% recycled glass tiles have never looked so sleek.

Choosing tiles for your office bathroom is as difficult as deciding which surface material is right for your washroom countertops. With the panoply of sleek, high-end washroom tiles available on the market, you might find yourself at a loss.

We think eco glass tiles Mosaicomicro may well be what you've been looking for. 

Produced in Italy and made from old discarded glass from TV and PC monitors, these 100% recycled glass tiles are then transformed into powder mixed with water – the only glue – and modelled into micro mosaic tiles. 

Thanks to the nature of the recycled glass, each micro-chip differs from the last, and the special production process allows for different textures to coexist on one sheet: shiny, matte, velvety, smooth and textured micro-chips thus appear to give life to the chosen surface.

Colour is another variable that adds to the unique, handcrafted feel of MM. The glass tiles come in varying shades of reds or blues, greys and blacks and this rich dynamic makes for a much more variegated, less clinical look. When put together, the mosaic sheets can cover planar as well as curved spaces. They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor washrooms.

Individual tiles are 6x6mm x3mm thick, supplied on sheets of 300x300mm.