By Sean Roland, Director of Experience & Operations at Artsy
Artsy’s Headquarters occupies the top four floors of 401 Broadway, an iconic pre-war building that stands at the nexus of the downtown creative scene. We’re bordered by the TriBeCa design studios to our south, the Soho fashion scene and the Chelsea galleries to our north, and the artist, gallery, performance, and nightlife worlds blossoming to our east in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
In my two-year tenure as the Director of Operations and Experience at Artsy, we’ve experienced significant growth, taking two additional floors to accommodate our 150+ employees based in NYC. As our footprint has grown, so have our ambitions for creating impactful employee and guest experiences. My team, the Experience Team, is charged with designing the spaces and maintaining the infrastructure that creates an inspiring, functional, and innovative workspace. Our goal is to reflect, through physical space, Artsy’s company culture and values, and our brand identity as an enabler and amplifier of visibility, appreciation, and commerce within the art world.
These are lofty goals for an Ops team. So how are we going about it? See my last post which focuses on how we’ve designed and built the infrastructure to empower my team as well as the broader Artsy team to showcase our company culture and values effectively. This post focuses on expressing our brand through physical space and programming design.
As many keen-eyed team members and visitors to Artsy HQ have commented, in the past we’ve never had much art installed at Artsy. While this may seem strange since we are thoroughly an art x tech company, we were scrappy at the start and frankly continue to be, investing our funds and time where they’re needed most: into developing products that our user base and partners want and need. However, as we continue to grow our impact and scale, we gain access to valuable resources in NYC, such as physical space and visibility in the art, tech, and business communities, and we’re excited to start exploring the ways that we can share these resources more broadly.
Our online products’ fundamental purpose is to increase the visibility and accessibility of art to anyone with an internet connection. When our team thought about how we as an operations team could contribute to this goal, we could think of no better way than to transform our physical spaces into an IRL platform for discovering, learning about, and experiencing art and design.
And so Art at Artsy was born. This initiative brings art and design activations and programming into our office spaces for the enjoyment of our team and guests, the benefit of artists and designers, and to physically amplify the fundamental goal of our online products to increase engagement with art.
The program includes diverse components such as an Artsy Residency, the first of which is happening right now with artist/designer Chris Wolston, who produced a TERRA COTTA TAKEOVER by installing terra cotta planter chairs on our 26th floor terrace. The pieces were custom created and painted for the space: “I wanted the chairs to gossip with the skyscrapers all summer long, so I made them speak the same language,” Chris shared with me jokingly. The pieces are on loan for the season from his gallery Patrick Parrish Gallery, a long time TriBeCa neighbor and gallery partner on Artsy.
Design Furniture Sourcing
Another exciting aspect of the initiative is a design furniture sourcing program in which we commission emerging designers like Elise McMahon of Likemindedobjets to build custom, responsive furniture for our old-school NYC office space. She recently completed a set of metal powder-coated “Ghost-Column Desks” that appear to playfully balance on a single large round tube, inside of glass-walled one-on-one meeting rooms on multiple floors. Of the tables she says, “their sweet softness of shape with secret strength slips seamlessly into the context of a meeting.”
Dynamic Panel Discussions
Rounding out the program, we’ve begun holding panel discussions that bring together diverse members of the art, business, and tech worlds. With these talks we’re trying to create a dialogue between these communities, increasing our understanding of how these overlapping worlds (and Artsy) impact NYC and the wider world.
Finally, we host an annual employee art show called Artsy Salon where our team members, many of whom have their own artistic practices, are invited to install artwork, create activations and perform in our office spaces throughout the summer. For many, this is an opportunity for to show their work in a non-traditional context and celebrate their diverse creative endeavors.
Some might ask why we are investing our own time and resources to bring art into our workspaces. Some companies hire an art consultant or architect when they feel that it’s time to start building a collection to project their brand equity or company wealth. Our answer is simple: for us, Art at Artsy isn’t about doing something fancy — it’s about doing something real, and connecting appreciators physically and emotionally to art in our spaces, and helping artists increase their visibility and exposure both offline and online.
If you enjoyed this read, you might be a good fit for our team. Check out open jobs at Artsy here.
Sean is the Director of Operations and Experience at Artsy. He and his team create impactful experiences at Artsy’s offices worldwide through curation and management of our real estate, office spaces, production of internal team-building events, and by providing essential services for the team. Sean joined Artsy 2 years ago, after 8 years of managing bars and restaurants in New York and San Francisco. He also operates an experimental art residency and Airbnb hotel space called ZEZE Hotel, and is working to open an bathhouse and art spa called SHUI Baths.
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