What does your office say about you?

A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity to explore the art storage area of the Katzen Arts Museum. My boss had solicited my help to find a large painting for his office. (Well, I may have insinuated that I would be a serious asset in the decision-making process. Regardless of how it happened, I was needed 😉 ) Anyway, we walked over to Katzen to meet with the museum curator and director, Jack Rasmussen, and the museum’s chief preparator, Bruce Wick. Bruce indulged our childish excitement and revealed painting after painting as we pointed to this one and that one….and that one. “Wait, maybe this one with the green?” said my boss. “What technique did this artist use?” I asked. I think the two of us could have stayed down in the storage area all morning.

At one point my boss was set on a giant painting with stark lines of striking greens, yellows, and reds. “The students will think I am a happening dean,” he smirked. I was slightly turned off by the loudness of the painting. I was concerned that the painting would not add to the atmosphere of the office, it would BE the office. No one would be able to take their eyes away from it. Fortunately, Bruce pulled out an unnamed painting by Willem de Looper. The painting is predominantly blue with soft green and purple touches. It is an oil painting, but De Looper’s paint application technique gives the feel of a watercolor. We ended up settling on the De Looper with the hope of creating a calm and welcoming atmosphere for the dean himself and the numerous students, staff, and faculty that enter his office. (I promised my boss that the students would still think he was happening.)

After the painting was hung, I stood in his office thinking about the piece’s impact on the room and what his office reveals about him as a leader. My eyes wandered to his bookshelf filled with travel souvenirs,  the seating area where he meets with all of his visitors, and the wall of student photos.

What does the art in your office reveal about you and how does it make your visitors feel? Can the furniture arrangement in your office impact meeting outcomes? Should you hang awards on the wall or keep them in your desk? I decided to google the idea and I came up with a few interesting articles.

Barbara Salfani of AOL offers 4 categories of leaders and the characteristics of their office in What Does Your Office Say About Your Work Style?

Jared Brox of Refresh Leadership works backwards by describing various office types, like the Hall of Fame office and the Yard Sale office, to diagnose leadership style in, Ulterior Motifs: hat Does Your Office Decor Say About Your Leadership Style?

Be sure to check out some of Washington’s Most Impressive Offices here. The photo below is my fave. It is the office of Mark Leithauser, Senior Curator at the National Gallery of Art.

I am certainly going to think twice before decorating my office.


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