Designing a Gallery Wall in a Commercial Space

A gallery wall in a commercial space can be a unique way to display themed art collections that reflect the identity and mission of the organization. The practice of largescale artworks hung on walls brings a grandeur and sense of epic scale, but over time can become static. When one passes the same piece of art daily, the eye tends to slide over it. The piece is recognized, and the experience of studying it is stored in memory. Gallery walls can produce a degree of inner tension and balance that draws the viewer’s eye in, and reveals relationships and juxtapositions that can change with every viewing.

A themed art collection can reflect an organization’s history, industry, or social values. As the works in a gallery wall tend to be smaller, the display can also be changed without a great deal of effort. This allows a gallery wall to hold rotating themed art shows that can move between spaces within a commercial building.

When designing a gallery wall, think of the wall as the frame, and the space between artworks as the mat. The gallery wall design can function as one large artwork composed of smaller pieces. Place the pieces in such a way that there is internal tension, and allow color and form to balance the tension. This provides an art experience that is dynamic rather than static. Examples would be to have coordinating shapes opposite each other on the diagonal, with work that has colors that tie the larger piece together moving through the wall in a curved shape. A designer can group works in such a way that powerful colors such as reds move a viewer’s eye along a set path through the gallery, or three larger, powerful pieces can provide a balanced, but dynamic group, with smaller work that provides balance and harmony.

Gallery walls can be designed for themes, or can work with pure elements like materials, textures, and color. Fine craft, such as fiber-based basketry and textiles, can provide both texture and volume that can easily work on a gallery wall. Traditional textiles that represent all of the places a corporation does business around the world, for example, would gather both interesting shapes, textures, colors, and provide a message of social awareness. But all media can work in this setting, and mixing media can provide some interesting dynamic tension in the work as a whole.

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