Monumental art pieces in open spaces have always fascinated me. When you have outdoor space on a company campus, you have freedom to find a piece or several pieces of artwork that can be viewed from every angle, different times of day as the sun casts it lights and creates shadows and reflections. This piece gifted by Henry Moore to the Art Institute of Chicago is a wonderful example.
Traveling around the country, visiting large companies, universities, as well as health and entertainment facilities, I’ve seen the public art surrounding these places that not only welcome, but also intrigue visitors. Recently, we posted about company culture in your space. In that post we discussed the inside. What we didn’t touch on is that your company culture is displayed as visitors and staff drive by or drive up – outside, before they ever enter the building. The outside space is another opportunity for first impressions in person. With our reliance on the web and the almighty Google to inform us and guide us, both as companies and entities, we have become VERY focused on the online impression, search results, and images that display in those results; what is written by us and by others about our company. It’s not simply the people who physically walk through your doors seeing your spaces; it’s the entire Internet who searches for you. Through this evolution of priorities – virtual visitors vs. real visitors – companies have somewhat neglected the outdoor first impressions. These are the impressions a company makes on those considering investing, hiring, joining, working, or promoting your company. They actually show up at the door. This is particularly true of smaller companies in shared work space buildings with limited outside presence.
How do you find these pieces or artists?
It depends if you want to focus on your local resources of artists, if you want something permanent, or a rotating display that quarterly or annually changes to another piece. There are programs to share these types of pieces that cost much less than buying the large piece outright and having it forever. The pieces you choose depend on the message you want and the purpose of the piece – if it is the ONLY piece or one of several to create a tone. If you find a particular artist that resonates with you, you may like their style so much you commission them to create several pieces over time for you to have are installed. This also gives you the opportunity, as a company, to have them cast two – one to donate to a local education institute, foundation, medical facility, park, etc. Everyone wins: you get the publicity as having donated this piece, the destination wins with beautiful art they most likely would not have been able to afford, and the artist wins as they sell you two pieces. Many artists will cut you a break on the second one if they are created at the same time and shipped at one time. Remember to think about the logistics of delivery and installation.
Making use of awkward spaces just outside your building can also be advantageous. This is the Booker Installation at the national gallery in a divider strip. So much better than only having native plants that are sometimes watered.
How you use the outdoor space of your company tells a lot about you. Yes, the Art Institute of Chicago has a lot of outdoor space. Nike, Google and others have LARGE campuses, as well. This gives them plenty of opportunities in wide open and tucked away space to show their culture with outdoor art works. But what about smaller companies in shared buildings with shared parking lots? We’ll cover some suggestions in another post soon.