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What is the Place of Art in Office Design?

What is the Place of Art in Office Design?

Art is not just about aesthetics, it can play an essential part in office design. Where someone works can have a significant impact on their mood, performance and how efficient they are. Art has the potential to affect this impact, to help transform workplaces for the better.

Sarah Samuels, specialist in fine art and Cheshire-based gallery owner, explains how businesses can get the most out of having artwork on display at work.

“Art adds personality to a space, and this sense of personality can then help inspire and motivate people.”


The Changing Workspace

The concept of the single office has all but vanished, and most businesses now look at the shared workspace as the norm.  This is understandable, as shared workspaces are adaptable to fluctuations in staff numbers, and functional shifts.

However, the open plan office has had a mixed effect on the people working in it.


“There are links between the use of space and people’s wellbeing at work.  Office design can determine how productive employees are, and how happy they feel”

Sarah Samuels


Increasingly, in recognition of this, more businesses are looking at ways of improving office design, to make workspaces less stark and anonymous, and to give them something that the people in them can better relate to.


A Cared-For, Caring Environment

Employees want to care about where they work and feel good about it. This sense of pride translates into increased motivation, and better productivity.


“Having art on your walls gives off clear messages, to your employees, visitors and clients. It shows you care about the environment people work in, and that you want to create a good employee and customer experience

Sarah Samuels


Office design has an increasing focus on employee wellbeing, away from being stripped-back and purely functional.

“This shift towards wanting people to enjoy working to spark their productivity has meant that art is more commonplace now on office walls.”

Research from International Art Consultants, in partnership with the British Council for Offices looks at the positive effects of art on people in the workplace, but also its practical applications for functions such as wayfinding and for branding and identity.

“Taking the right approach to art can mean it helps embed a positive culture, and enhances a corporate brand as part of this process.”


Is Art for Everyone?

While art itself can benefit staff, also how a business chooses it can be a more inclusive process.

“Resist the urge to be too top-down when it comes to choosing art for the workplace,” says Sarah.  “Instead, consider making this kind of choice much more collaborative. Ask employees their opinion. Give them a selection to choose from and increase their sense of ownership.”

Art is an emotional investment. It can touch a wide range of people, and anyone using it in a work environment should consider this.”

“Don’t assume, for example, a representational landscape will only appeal to older people. Art in more traditional forms can help restore a sense of balance and reduce tension. This applies across a range of people, young and old.”

The Sarah Samuels Fine Paintings Spring Exhibition featured paintings by John Martin RBA and Graham Painter. Pieces by other well-known artists were also on display.



“When it comes to office design, art can play a vital role in setting the tone and character of a place,” concludes Sarah.  “Graham’s paintings, looking into waterscapes, have previously been well placed in corporate spaces because of this.”

To discuss how art could improve your workplace, please call Sarah Samuels on 0785 449 0220 or visit


For an accompanying read, please visit Sarah Samuels’ interview, in Business Aspects Magazine, What is the Human Value of Corporate Art?