Animating employees with art
Cornelia Dietschi has been Head of the Art Service and Art Collection at Roche for the past ten years. Her work is as full of challenges, changes and surprises as ever.
The Basel-based Roche Art Service enables employees to select works of art from the Roche Art Collection and to have these installed at their place of work. Cornelia Dietschi and her team of two—Stefanie Probst and Philipp Mohler—are constantly adapting the service in line with changing demands. “The work environment is very different from what it was a decade ago,” she explains. “There is greater variety these days, with everything from single offices to open spaces and sometimes even whole floors in which to display works of art.” This constant state of flux is what Cornelia finds so exciting about her work. “Being able to respond to new buildings and new premises with art calls for a good deal of flexibility,” she says. “But animating a room with art, and even more so a whole foyer, is very motivating.”
The Roche Art Collection has grown steadily over the years. Today, it comprises some 6000 works, 5600 of which are in circulation. Panel paintings and other wall-mounted works account for the largest part of the collection. And this is where the demand is, too. Works on paper such as prints, watercolors and drawings are the ones considered most desirable by staff.
Recent years have seen another development, however: “Just a few years ago, works of art from our collection were requested primarily for decorative purposes,” says Dietschi. “The focus has shifted to more personal expression, and individual works are now in greater demand.” Photographs and three-dimensional works are also gaining ground.
Employees are allowed to select their own works as a rule, and this sometimes leads to combinations that neither Dietschi nor her team would have thought of: “As non-art historians, many employees have a fresh perspective and ideas that I might find surprising at first, but that work wonderfully well,” she says, adding that she only occasionally advises against a particular juxtaposition.
One of Dietschi’s own favorites is a monumental photograph by A.C. Kupper. “It shows a painter’s brush belonging to a friend of the artist, but it might almost be read as symbolizing the work we do at Roche,” she explains, “which is to make the workplace attractive and stimulating in a variety of ways, using art as our medium.”