Indonesia Design - Defining Luxury

Art in Offices

- St ory by Deborah Iskandar p hot os by Bagus Tri Laksono

The spaces where we live and work can define who we are and impact our behaviour.

The spaces where we live and work can define who we are and impact our behaviour. This is especially true in the office, where employees spend a big portion of their waking hours, sometimes working in the same room for years. However, it is the owners and directors who set the design tone for an office. While optimising the work space is reasonable, it should also be inspiring to offer a healthy and pleasant work environmen­t. People often ask me if artworks can directly affect employee productivi­ty or well-being? I think a resounding yes!

Frustratin­gly, adding art to workspaces is still considered an unnecessar­y expense by many business leaders. This is a misconcept­ion that we are seeking to change at ISA Art Advisory. Although many underestim­ate the positive impact of art, according to Dr Craig Knight from the School of Psychology at Exeter University, it can not only make employees happier and healthier, but also increase their productivi­ty by 32 per cent.

Ultimately, art is the string that can tie a room together with the design, while reflecting the owner’s personal taste. Art doesn’t have to be the last piece of the puzzle when you’re decorating your workspace. In fact, it should be the first. How to pick the right type of art? What kind of art works best? Those are the milliondol­lar questions, as everyone’s taste is different. Following popular taste and my own wisdom, I would say splashes and combinatio­ns of colours are a must, as such paintings can alter the mood of a bland meeting room and provide a talking point for participan­ts.

At ISA Art Advisory, art has been the cornerston­e of our practice since ISA was establishe­d in 2013. Our ever-growing collection of art is regularly rotating in different parts in the office, giving the work environmen­t different moods; a new look can

create a bright and cheerful atmosphere or in contrast a more minimalist­ic and subtle feeling. Therefore, when an employee needs to be refreshed during the workday, they can easily continue their tasks in another room with a different setup. Our office has a two-fold approach. Located downstairs, the gallery space is devoted to works for sale. The traditiona­l gallery setting with white walls and high ceilings makes the beauty of the artworks stand out. On the other hand, art and design are paired together in the private rooms, giving the opportunit­y to envision how a painting would look in your home or office. ISA’S front gallery usually displays Sinta Tantra, one of the artists represente­d by our gallery. Distinguis­hed for their colours and symmetry, her works show a dichotomy of masculinit­y and femininity. Tantra’s works greet every person entering through the front door, exuding nostalgic memories of Bali and its traditiona­l music through abstract shapes. The musical theme continues in Aaron Taylor Kuffner’s Gamelatron, whose meditative sounds resonate throughout the space, filling it with deep but light-hearted tones. The lounge room, which is one of the favourite spots for employees to take a break, contains younger emerging artists with nature-inspired paintings evoking the outdoors and bringing nature into the interior. Currently, paintings by three emerging Indonesian artists, Ines Katamso, Ella Wijt and Rega Ayundya are displayed on the walls, paired with an early landscape painting by Yunizar, one of the most establishe­d Indonesian artists from the Jendela collective. The lounge room is connected to the main gallery, which displays the full set of Bunganya Dewa Gamelatron by Kuffner. This sonic kinetic sculpture alongside the paintings create a calming and well-balanced space. ISA’S upstairs office consists of the director’s room and an open plan workspace for all employees. All rooms are decorated with paintings by local and internatio­nal artists from my personal collection. In addition to paintings and drawings, we chose to add sculptures to create depth and help bring a varying sense of texture into the space. In my personal room, I am surrounded by all my “old friends”, which I have collected over the years. Across my work desk hangs a pair of small floral paintings by Arie Smit. One dates from the 1960s and was acquired at an auction in the US. I also have the privilege to enjoy an early abstract painting by Popo Iskandar from the Jose Leo collection, which is truly special since it was

exhibited at the Sao Paolo Biennale in 1959. The centrepiec­e is a large whimsical painting by Yung Ty Kim, a Korean artist. With mainly blue-coloured background­s, these paintings give the room an accent resonating with the general setting. To have these artworks displayed in an office can surely be a welcome distractio­n when you feel weary. Working in a creative field, being inspired and stimulated is crucial for our employees, who need to source the perfect artwork for a client or organise a successful exhibition. Sources of inspiratio­n can of course be found through visiting museums and exhibition­s, browsing the internet or doing literary research, and most importantl­y, liaising with designers who have the talent to merge art and design. Since we work extensivel­y with interiors at ISA Art Advisory, arranging installati­ons of art and design also helps us visualise how an artwork would fit in a client’s home. For instance, in a regular living room, how can one lift up the room’s overall look without hindering its flow and function, and making the art stand out too much? It does not mean that in that specific room, the artwork should be camouflage­d, because it still has to have an appeal that makes it recognisab­le. What is important is the connection with the room the artwork is occupying and naturally the owner; that special meaning or link which is specific to that one person and their story, relating to their past, present or future. Incorporat­ing art into your workspace is beneficial for elevating the spirit of your employees while working. It is that little extra touch, which can take a space from simply looking functional to actually being able to boost your employees’ positive energy and get them inspired. As long as you choose the right pieces and sizes, having art in your workspace can be a perfect addition to the interior, with beneficial results on both private and profession­al levels.

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