Art works: spotlight on Deustche Bank’s corporate art collection

With nearly 60,000 artworks spread across 40 countries and 900 offices, Deutsche Bank's Art Works is the biggest collection of corporate art in the world.

The German investment bank's global art program was launched in the late 1970s and has since become an integral part of Deutsche Bank's values.

The bank's 'Art Works' collection includes works on paper, photographs, canvases, sculptures and video installations displayed in several bank offices. In addition, Deutsche Bank also enables access to contemporary art in five permanent exhibition spaces in Frankfurt, London, New York, Tokyo and Milan, each with its own philosophy.

But what is the driving force behind this artistic enterprise? Why are Deutsche Bank and other industry titans like J.P. Morgan or UBS (according to a 2016 Forbes magazine article, the UBS art collection amounts to 35,000 works) putting such an emphasis on corporate art?

Cashflow installation in Deutsche Bank
Cashflow by Olaf Metzel, Deutsche Bank Collection in Frankfurt. Image courtesy of Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank said it: Art works. Art fosters innovation. Art is an intellectual asset which has a positive influence on employees. Art sparks conversations and promotes critical thinking. Art helps support local and emerging artists.

When located in high-traffic common areas like lift lobbies and reception areas, art can also convey a message and give businesses a competitive advantage. It can impress customers and boost sales all the while bringing something new to the table.

Deutsche Bank even has an interactive app which gives employees more information about the works they are looking as well as an “Arthothek”, a place where people can seek expert advice on choosing artwork for the workplace. The bank also hosts talks by artists and curates an online contemporary art magazine, ArtMag.

floral wallpaper inside Deutsche Bank in Taipei
Michael Lin, Untitled, 2010. Deutsche Bank Collection. © Michael Lin/Eslite Gallery, Taipei 2010

To further support the art economy and promote contemporary artists, Deutsche Bank also elects an "Artist of the Year". The award is given on the recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council which consists of renowned curators Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Victoria Noorthoorn.

This year, South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere is Deutsche Bank's new "Artist of the Year" 2017. He will present his first institutional solo exhibition in Germany at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin in spring 2017.

Kemang Wa Lehulere Artist of the year 2017
Kemang Wa Lehulere, Deutsche Bank 

Aside from its aesthetic appeal, corporate art makes sounds business sense too. To quote Alex Heath, managing director at International Art Consultants:

“A momentary distraction is definitely not a bad thing in the workplace. Art has historically always been about escape, and we all need is an escape sometimes.”

12 harmonics in deutsche bank reception
12 Harmonics by Keith Tyson in Deutsche Bank London. Photograph: Deutsche Bank
conceptual art at work
The Gates, Project for Central Park, NYC, 2003 by Christo. All works Deutsche Bank Collection.
Collection of artwork inside Deutsche Bank
Shirakami #1, #3, #5, #7, 2008 by Tokihiro Sato. All works Deutsche Bank Collection
Deutsche Bank London reception art by Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst
Art by Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst in Deutsche Bank London's reception area. Deutsche Bank

Calling all landlords –  6 ways to improve your office reception

The office reception is the first space potential tenants will discover when they visit your space. If you want to make a good first impression (hint: you should), there are several ways to make the reception area as attractive and leasable as possible.


Here are six ways you can improve, thus make your office reception more leasable.

1. Know your audience


Online lending & investing platform Lendinvest's London office, by Oktra

In order to hold your tenant’s attention, it is always useful to know your audience. To put it differently: what kind of tenant are you building for? Are you looking to attract a big tech company or targeting a creative start-up? Why would a traditional law firm or financial institution like the space you’re offering?

Having your dream end user in mind will help you stay focused: nobody likes undecided landlords and if your office reception seems to be on the fence, chances are your prospective tenant will be too. It might be tempting to appeal to a broader audience but, just like employers like to read a tailored cover letter, tenants like to see build-outs that have been designed with them in mind.

So now, you have done your research, you have established what is in high demand and you have settled on your dream tenant. How will you capture their interest and convince them that you care? How will you set the tone?

2. Think neutral colours

Many studies have shown that colour impacts our mood. Although it can be useful to know that reds increase energy levels and yellows encourage productivity, the majority of prospective tenants will prefer a more neutral office reception, one they can personalise themselves. Go for neutral, versatile tones like blues, greys and whites: those will complement just about every company’s brand colours.

3. Don’t forget the flooring


Award winning global digital agency OMD's reception area, by Trifle Creative. Credit: Rob Wilson

A high-quality, neutral finish is also desired on the floor. Seamless terrazzo, smooth, matt epoxy, luxury vinyl tiles, contemporary stone or long pile carpets for a more luxurious feel. Those are just a handful of high-quality flooring options you can use to create a professional look that will appeal to your prospective tenant. Impress your tenants from the very first step they take into your office.

4. Avoid built-ins

Office design is all about efficiency and the demand for flexible spaces is higher than ever. Built-ins are expensive and will end up costing your tenants even more if and when they decide to remove them. More often than not, a company will prefer to match their built-ins to their own furniture.

5. Think beyond the reception desk

Flexibility is a recurring word in today’s workplace design. Functional, mixed-use reception areas that can double as break-out areas are growing in popularity. And what if you introduced a coffee shop in the reception area? Such an amenity will quickly become a marketing asset and will be a surefire way to enhance your revenue.


Asana's headquarters in San Francisco, by Geremia Design. The reception area features a bar.  Credit: Cesar Rubio

6. Be open to change

Your office reception should be adaptive and so should you. The more flexible you are, the harder your offer will be to resist. Expect tenants to ask for changes, expect them to dictate their requirements, expect them to be dissatisfied with one aspect or another. This isn’t personal, this is business. Easily satisfied tenants are as scarce as hen’s teeth, unless of course they’re easily satisfied with the very best.

So how can you make it an offer that is hard to turn down?

Don't rush to start refurbishing before you have a set idea of who you are refurbishing for. Opt for neutral tones and finishes, both on the walls and on the floor; bold and vibrant colours are great for office receptions but you would be playing the guessing game so don't yield to temptation! Keep your space flexible and be open to change yourself.

A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson, John Henrik Clarke