The Office Space - On Art Collecting

Work, play & family — The Office Space co-owner Naomi Tosic muses on a life surrounded by art with her business and life partner, Boris Tosic.

Naomi and Boris Tosic

Naomi and Boris Tosic

In the case of Naomi and Boris Tosic, displaying their private art collection in their luxury, to-let suites, The Office Space, commits a desire to have the art that has touched their lives to, in turn, inspire their clients. The office spaces are realised in such a way so that every private room and communal area is the domain of one of the Tosics’ iconographic prints or statues. There are surreal, cerebral paintings by Ben Quilty and Del Kathryn Barton, mixing company with minimalist Meander prints by Croatian abstractionist, Julije Knifer. While the artworks in the offices jump anywhere between high-concept, abstract sculptures, to photographs to Naïve figurative paintings, they share a unified experience to be as thought-provoking as they are congenial to the eye. Therein lies the Tosics’ modernist business ethos to elevate private offices, from corporate workrooms to be endured, into surroundings that encourage its residents to dream ahead.

Naomi Tosic gives us some lessons on how collecting art lets us drink deeply from the every day.

1. Art is a window into your partner’s soul.
Naomi’s observations of what artworks her husband Boris is drawn to buy extends a deeper understanding of his intellectual and emotional interiority. “I get to see why did he buy it, what’s that saying about him”, Naomi says, “he’s very in tune with the emotion of it, and so for me, it’s sort of through him that I get to prise open my capacity to understand human emotion.” Between Naomi and Boris, art mediates their outlooks on life varied by age, upbringing and cultural background (Naomi grew up in the Blue Mountains, while Boris is a Croatian migrant) so as to find a common ground to gauge the other.  “Art’s a really nice discovery… it’s more… tripping over different things together”.

2. Families that collect together, stay together.
In the Tosic household, no wall is left unadorned. Works by Robert Dickerson, John Coburn and Charles Blackman slot onto every facade in the home, with some living areas so densely packed with modern art as to look like the old-world accounts of the Salons de Refusés. Yet more than the pride of conquest over blue-chip artworks, Naomi is equanimous in her belief that having her five boys grow up surrounded by culture and charting their lives through art is an unquantifiable gift.  “It’s beautiful that our boys see [their art] all the time… it’s little things that they might not understand, but they get to understand the feeling that they can own art.”

3. [1] Art is an opportunity to peek into the profound humanity of the creative mind…
With artists like Ben Quilty and Del Kathryn Barton counted amongst their personal acquaintances as well as their private collection, the Tosics are privy to curious insights on how art objects carry a part of their owners. “Artists have this extra burden, this need to communicate,” Naomi says, “they’ve got something important to tell, or something they’ve got to get off their hearts. They feel things very deeply and they agonise to put it on a canvas and that’s when you get art.”

4. [2] …so make the monetary investment when it matters.
For Naomi, her collection with Boris  is especially meaningful because it is not borne from the indifferent privilege of extreme wealth. “We choose to spend money on quality furniture and we choose to spend money on art,” Naomi says. “There’s value for us in art in an emotional and beautifying sense.” For Boris, Naomi notes that “if he does get a big project with work, he’ll always be spending that money, because otherwise that money can fritter away, whereas [with] art, you actually get to start to build something of permanence. So it’s nice at home that we’ve run out of space on our walls and get to kind of have our living space in art… it’s a good problem!”