Inspiration Office: The Artist’s New Canvas
Workplace Solutions in New Orleans partnered with local artists to create a dual-purpose showroom and art gallery.
When artist Josh Hailey ran into Paul Maczka on the streets of New Orleans, you could say it was kismet. After 30 years in the furniture industry, Maczka was getting ready to open Workplace Solutions, a Steelcase dealer. Maczka and his wife had fallen in love with New Orleans and its rich culture. Hailey is an artist and, at the time, was ready for his next project. He was already familiar with Steelcase – his favorite mustard yellow and green couch from 1978 bared the brand’s name. The two decided to work together, drawing office inspiration from the city and vibe around them. Hailey and fellow artist Brittany Schall created and curated original pieces for the showroom. They agreed to share their process and final vision with 360.
360: Why did you decide to partner with an artist?
Paul: My wife Suzanne and I are art lovers and have a lot of art in our home so it seemed natural that we have art in our workplace. I believe it’s inspiring and thought provoking to be surrounded by great art. Our new space has very high ceilings, natural light and lots of exposed brick. It’s located in the warehouse district of New Orleans which is home to many galleries.
360: What was the creative process like working together?
Paul: Josh and Brittany were two of the first people to see our space when it was still just an empty box. They had a vision for what they wanted to do early on. We gave them feedback on what we did and didn’t like. For the most part, they had free reigns and decided on pieces and placement. We were definitely interested in reflecting the local New Orleans culture in our space.
Josh: We put a lot of thought into art, location and material. Every space in the showroom is calculated for thought, experience and comfort.
360: You use sculpture, paint and photos. How important is materiality to getting the right feel within a space?
Josh: Material and medium are everything. When I’m designing for a specific location, like Workplace Solutions, I look at products on the floor and try to marry them to the walls. The furniture and art are a special combination that need to be a perfect pairing for a great atmosphere.
360: Why do you think art is important in the workplace?
Paul: I think art enriches our lives and we spend most of our lives in the workplace. It helps establish the culture of our organization.
Josh: I think art is intrinsic for collaboration and spontaneity. I think there is an open endlessness to art on all levels that allows the viewer to be inquisitive, open and ready for discussion. It helps people push boundaries and expand their thinking.
Orange Venus by Brittany Schall is a strong piece near the showroom’s entrance. She chose the classical figure to compliment the blue background and blue chairs. Aerial Silk pieces by Josh Hailey over the undulating seating area are images of New Orleans from above mounted on gold. Both are situated to catch natural light throughout the day.
This custom photamerica piece of New Orleans takes over the 30 foot wall above the long seating area. The green and blue in the bench reminded the artists of rivers and landscapes, so they chose to create another landscape to organically flow above the piece. The form is printed on wood and lights up from behind.
Josh Hailey’s photamerica collage pieces to the left are images of New Orleans overlaid with maps and historic photos. Brittany Schall’s Green Venus is what visitors see when they disembark from the elevator. It’s intended to balance the Orange Venus and incorporates all three of the colors in Workplace Solutions’ logo.
Brittany Schall’s Lust of Persephone is an original drawing of flowers printed on clear and white acrylic above the Bivi Freestanding Trunk. It stands off the wall in an architectural way. Josh Hailey’s Silk Series piece is of a steel bridge over the Mississippi river above the Campfire Slim Table. The artists felt it paired nicely in a room intended for focus work.
Josh Hailey produced a Fabric Series using samples of patterns given to him from interior designers.
Josh Hailey’s Ceramic Frame series and Copper Enameled series are seen here. The artist installed these in this space to take advantage of the room’s light. Hailey said it can look like a constellation of stars while sitting in the Carl Hansen Paddle Chairs.
Josh Hailey chose this Wood Series of framing samples as a visual cluster to sit above Coalesse Emu Heaven lounge seating. This entire area gets a great deal of natural light.
Josh Hailey’s Copper Series ranges from fun silk on copper to enamel and glass. The Potrero415 table and Massaud chairs are surrounded by windows. Copper highlights the natural light as it pours inside.
Josh Hailey’s Lettering Series is sculptural and colorful. The the blue in the Shortcut chairs inspired the artist to create a large colorful scheme behind the Bivi Sit + Stand desk.
This is another of Josh Hailey’s Aerial Silk pieces on silver aluminum above the Bivi Rumble Seat. The image is a section of Louisiana from above.
These three custom paintings created by Brittany Schall and Josh Hailey represent New Orleans’ beautiful architecture at sunrise, midday and sunset.