How To Curate Art for Commercial Real Estate

3 Keys for CRE Art

Your commercial real estate project a property that is conceptualized, financed and executed in order to attract other people.

Therefore, when curating art for a commercial real estate project, it is not personal taste that should lead your decisions.

I have a Client who personally adores old maps of historic American cities and their waterways.  She owns several of these old maps and has them beautifully displayed in her home.  They tell her story, and that of her husband, as they travel to America’s oldest cities and absorb themselves in learning the beginnings of various eastern seaports and southern gulf towns.

For their multifamily business, however, they continue to select contemporary art that will appeal to their multifamily residents, as they should!

Selecting art for commercial real estate isn’t a fun cake topping. It is, in fact, the first impression of your property.

The art will be a major factor in attracting residents or customers to your multifamily communities or to your shopping center, retail store, hotel, or senior living facility.

The objective of the art collection needs to be “to increase target-market attraction”.

In other words, your ROI is determined in part by the artwork telling your story.

Based on your story, you can determine the collection parameters for your art, including your mission statement, your criteria for collecting, and your procedures for the care and management of that collection.

Is your multifamily community targeted to young suburban couples or to urban singles?

Does your shopping center focus on family outings or on Instagrammers?  (You can say “oh, ours is both!” and that’s fine, as long as that’s the story you tell from every aspect of your project, including the art.)

As an art consultant, my job is to take your story and show it visually.  This creates an instant connection between the art in your space and your prospect.

The art tells the viewer “we understand you and your vibe.”

It can say “This is where you live your best life,” or “we know you have international backgrounds and global taste,” or “we celebrate you and your beloved city.”

The art should also be original and not a color copy.  Original art tells your residents, your customers, and your tenants that you respect them enough to create quality in every aspect of your asset.

Here are a few concrete points about curating the right art collection for a commercial real estate project:

  1. Your Commercial Real Estate Art Should Tell a Single Story

Your prospects will make their minds up as quickly when touring your property or visiting your shopping center as they will when they go on a date.  A few seconds or minutes will do it.

They will walk in and they will have a visceral response to the art.  They will feel intrigued and welcomed, or they will not.

As an example, if your art tells the story of your asset, such as “this property welcomes those who love the outdoors, even when they’re inside,” the asset will likely be filled with light and with plants and with organic shapes in the architecture, natural colors, and furniture selections and window treatments focused on organic curves and nature prints.

For this story, the art should focus on visuals of trees and leaves and fruit and perhaps animals, or people standing in front of gorgeous natural wonders.  The art tells the viewer that this space is all about nature.

At home, you may prefer paintings of ballet dancers, but they have no place in this particular property.  (And by the way, I know an artist who does gorgeous paintings of ballet dancers if you’re interested!)

  1. Your Commercial Real Estate Art Should Be Comprised of Pieces That Inspire Your Prospects and Your Team

Think of your target audience.  As they walk into a place where they may be living or working or shopping or dining, they want to feel inspired.  The art should be a big part of that.

Art that is wonderfully colorful, or emotionally uplifting, will heighten that sense of inspiration.

Whether it is nature, or the big city pulse, or famous local citizens, or the commercial real estate asset’s proximity to a famous race track, in each case, the art images should inspire!  The prospect or visitor should be excited to come in and to stay as long as possible.

At home, you may prefer a quiet, relaxing vibe for your art.  That’s fine for sleeping.  But even at a hospitality asset, you want people up and out of their rooms to use your spa and your dining services!  Motivate them with inspirational visuals and give them an all-encompassing story for their vacation.

  1. Your Commercial Real Estate Art Should Be Part of Your ESG

Because we live in a multicultural world, the art in all commercial real estate assets should reflect our diversity.

This can be accomplished through art style, art subject matter, and the artists themselves.  Referencing global influences, styles and geographies is an excellent way to welcome those from multiple backgrounds.

People can enjoy art from every culture, yet it’s particularly welcoming and enticing to see art that feels like it’s about you and your people, be that gender, heritage or color.

And if that part of the art is less than obvious, a small card next to the art talking about the art and the artist will educate the viewer, the leasing team, and the tenants.  It is something of which everyone associated with the property can be proud.  Diversity can be a key to making your prospects and your employees feel welcome!

Ensuring that the art tells your story will increase your speed of lease-up, your retention, guest length of stay, and enjoyment of the property.  It’s well worth the time to consider how to make your art work for your property!