An Appetite for Art
Splash image: Michael Vickers, FOMO
Academic studies have shown that providing an enriched environment can lead to happier people and better work. Art is a great facilitator for this. And if it’s anyone that understands this notion, it’s Mia Nielsen. As head of cultural programming at the iconic Drake Hotel Properties, she’s the one that gives much of the beloved properties their heart and soul. If you’re looking to add a little life and culture to your space, whether for your team or customers, consider her a guru on the matter.
Why is it important to integrate art into the workspace?
Art is an opportunity for individual expression. By hanging art in your workplace, whether it is a public environment (lobby, restaurant, etc.) or more private space (office) you give people something unique to look at. It shakes us out of our routines, gives us something to think about, contemplate and can spur conversation. That’s true for staff and guests, alike.
What benefits do you see from embracing art and creativity?
Integrating art into your business environment says a lot about your corporate culture. Is this an organization that is bold and cutting edge? Is it one that is rooted in tradition? Art is meant to inspire and can be used as a valuable tool to engage staff and visitors, and to help them better understand what motivates your organization, whatever that may be.
What message do you try to communicate using the artists that are commissioned?
Each of our properties has a different vision. At the Devonshire in Prince Edward County, the collection revolves around themes of traditional craft presented in a contemporary way. Downtown, Drake One Fifty sets a completely different tone. There are brilliant art collections in the core, between the banks and prominent law firms. I’ve been blown away visiting offices that are like contemporary museums. We’ve always wanted to set a tone that is playful and adventurous with works by well-known artists. These have included Douglas Coupland, Olaf Breuning and Gary Baseman. In showing these works, we’re keen to transform the space every year with a new vision, one that is urban and forward thinking, yet creates an inviting and interesting space where guests return time and again.
What advice can you offer to other businesses looking to integrate art into their corporate culture?
I recommend for any business looking to show art in their spaces to work (at least for a while) with a gallery or curator who can get to know them and bring in temporary works on their behalf. This is a very economical introduction to living with art. It allows a business to start a genuine dialogue with staff to see what they’re drawn to and what direction best suits their needs, and the needs of the space. You would bring in a pro to fix your car or manage your money; working with a curator or gallery has similar benefits.
As a part of the Drake One Fifty’s inaugural year, the renowned Canadian artist participated in their White Pop installation with a drawing of a sunset using linear lines depicting the barcodes found on airline luggage tags.
Based off of the success that they received in their first year of business at Drake One Fifty, Drake Hotel Properties initiated their first annual exhibition as a way to create an engaging environment by way of introducing art to patrons. Among the artists involved this year, acclaimed French street artist, Thierry Noir (best known for being the first to paint on the Berlin Wall), created a 25-foot tall installation that reflected the abstract theme of that year.
A fitting marriage of food, artistry and celebration, LA-based Gary Baseman’s solo exhibition at the Drake One Fifty explored his fascination with “the beauty of the bittersweetness of life,” featuring his beloved trademark character, Toby. His work was displayed throughout the space, which included illustrated menus, dining plates and serving trays, as well as a large mural featuring all his characters.
The latest in their series of annual exhibitions, FOMO will transport the Drake One Fifty into the future with a millennial spin on the environment. Toronto-based Michael Vickers, who’s work has been showcased in Basel (Switzerland) and Mumbai (India), will have an installation that greets patrons at the entrance with a collection of painted steel and neon sculptures.
Photos courtesy of Drake Hotel Properties