The use of Art in workplace design and fit outs


Large scale artworks including Stephen Bush’s Duncan Renovator, 2012 (left) add drama in the circulation spaces. Interiors: Chenchow Little. Image: John Gollings.

Typical real estate office fit outs are usually the traditional shop-front with windows full of glossy A4 brochures.

An entirely different scene greets you when you step into Bresic Whitney’s new Darlinghurst offices. Large screens in the reception area show video art, not properties. Huge canvases and neon sculptures fill the walls and there’s not a brochure in sight. You could easily assume you’re in an art gallery.

Art and design have become essential components of the Bresic Whitney brand and experience, especially as the business grows. Director Shannan Whitney started a personal collection in 2003 with the purchase of a Bill Henson photograph and decided to hang it in the first Bresic Whitney agency in Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, where the interiors had been completed by architects TobiasTheodore (a collaboration between Telly Theodore and Nick Tobias at the time). “I thought it looked better in the office and I also realised that it got more exposure,” he recalls, adding that he really started to consider a corporate collection in 2008-2009 when the company was opening its Glebe office.

“I have a tough, hard-edge aesthetic and am interested in styles of art that involve different mediums and challenging perceptions. I wanted to take that personal experience with art and apply it to our business needs. That way, our staff and consumers – be they buyers, sellers or tenants – would all start to interact with art,” says Shannan.

Shannan has continued to focus on building Bresic Whitney’s collection that now numbers more than 70 works. Many of Australia’s finest contemporary artists are represented including Adam Cullen (dec.), Freddy Timms, Rosemary Laing, David Noonan, Shaun Gladwell, Ben Quilty, Daniel Von Sturmer and Brook Andrew, as well as a growing raft of internationals.

As the business expanded further and outgrew the original Darlinghurst offices, Shannan had a chance to think about a new headquarters where art could be central to their culture. He decided a corresponding investment in design would be appropriate to frame the collection and create an attractive office environment. When assessing potential premises, it was important to Shannan to consider both the spatial requirements of the business and those who would benefit from it: primarily staff and clients.

“In many ways, it is our people that set us apart. We are asking people to commit to us, to come and work in our offices and to contribute to the agency’s success. So, if we want good people, the question becomes how are we going to attract and keep good people? I think in return, we have a responsibility to make the work-space as pleasurable and enjoyable as we can,” he explains.The search for new premises yielded a raw, industrial warehouse in Darlinghurst. “Once we found the property, it was important to unlock the potential and give the space the respect and the opportunity that can rarely be expressed without good architecture.”

Part 2 of this piece to be published next week. Stay tuned!

Bresic Whitney:

Chenchow Little:

Images: Courtesy of Bresic Whitney.

Content production: Freya Lombardo

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