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In a world inundated with signs prompting us to push, pull and follow the arrows are there more intuitive ways to help people find their way around a building?
Directional signage is no doubt central to the successful navigation of a space but perhaps we are missing something.
Art is a powerful tool that is often underestimated, treated purely as an aesthetic exercise. It is used to ‘brighten up’ a space or add ‘a splash of colour’ but its ability to impact on human behaviour goes far beyond decoration.
Enhancing Set Routes
Directional signage gets us from A to B and if created in a certain style goes some way to reflecting company branding. Art can enhance that journey tenfold, making it not just a means to an end but an experience in itself.
By retracing the footsteps taken by the users of your premises, you can highlight these areas and focus on creating coherent identities tailored to suit each space.
Art can help to prepare the ground for a specific task, e.g. a creative thinking space or client meeting area. By dividing your building into a set of experiences, you can deliver coherence within each one by theming your art to support the desired activity.
Email and internal comms can sometimes mean people have no real cause to interact face to face especially when their desks are located in separate areas.
Changing the art in your office regularly triggers curiosity, prompting people to explore the building and visit one another’s spaces.
Activity Specific Spaces
Understanding the behavioural outcomes required from specific spaces is key to developing how we approach these environments with art. Behaviours can be very well supported and promoted by choosing the right art for the context.
For mediation rooms and similar, art needs to support a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Of course a holistic approach is important – calming art is less effective if someone has to sit on an uncomfortable chair – but the right colours and subject matter can go a long way to creating an inviting setting.
Avoid aggressive colours such as red and consider greens, blues and pastels.
If we want to create ‘buzz’ in a space and facilitate high energy levels and communication, art can be used as a catalyst. Something a little ‘out there’ or provocative in style, whilst remaining inoffensive can be a great spark for debate.
Create a frequently changing space to keep people engaged with their surroundings.
If you are seeking to provide a space that helps people to switch off from their work, make sure the art is especially captivating. Creating a space that is exclusively dedicated to art can provide staff with somewhere to go when they need a clean mental break.
Consider less conventional genres such as surrealism or optical illusions in order to promote total absorption and mindfulness.
Featured artwork on this page – Top image; artist Gareth Griffiths. ‘Sensitive Spaces’; artist Jonathan Speed. ‘Creative Spaces’; artist Darren Baxter. ‘Switching Off’, artist Stuart Beck.