When a financial services company needed new offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, its executives wanted the design to embody the firm’s focus on developing long-term client relationships. The headquarters’ ambience, they decided, should not only continue to look fresh as those relationships matured, but also include nods to hospitality to make clients in a jittery financial market feel comfortable.
“The architect, Dan Radman, had developed a layout that fostered a strong connection between reception and the board room and another conference room, which are client-centered spaces,” says Lucy Harris, principal of her eponymous design firm. Her team polished up the 10,850 square feet with investment pieces that include Charlotte Perriand sconces and concrete side tables by Francesco Balzano.
Executive offices line the perimeter, with open workstations within, all in what Harris calls “a high-contrast palette of white walls, dark furniture, and architectural elements as it felt fresh, clean, and dramatic.” And just in case the pantry and conference rooms are full, private lounge areas are carved out by slatted walls next to reception. “They open up and connect spaces by giving views and light,” Harris says, two qualities any client might appreciate.
For Dunhill, a British menswear and leather goods brand synonymous with the term English gentleman, MoreySmith has tailored a bespoke headquarters rife with sartorial details. The heritage brand founded in 1893 occupies the erstwhile St. Petersburg Hotel in Mayfair, London, a storied 1908 red-brick building that once served as a wartime officers’ hospital. Previously, Dunhill’s 170 staffers were spread across multiple levels of a building in neighboring Marylebone—and separated even further from their showroom, located 10 minutes away. Consolidating the business under a single roof therefore topped CEO Andrew Maag’s priorities.
The new 21,100-square-foot premises locates reception, showrooms, meeting and break-out rooms, a boardroom, and an outdoor terrace on the fourth floor, with the level below accommodating open-plan plug-and-play work areas, plus the creative studio where the designers hash out their plans for the upcoming season.
Local firm MoreySmith—which has transformed workplaces for such brands as Moët Hennessy, Sony, and ASOS—won Maag over with its proposed inventive structural tweaks. To wit: a statement staircase in black steel linking the two levels, a lightwell to increase access to natural light, and a bold extension that would create a new rooftop terrace, and, overlooking it, a spacious, light-filled boardroom.
Flexibility reigns throughout the design, with rotating racks on which to hang garments and mirrored partitions in the showrooms used to divide or visually extend the space. Hand-blown fluted pendants light meeting rooms. Low-slung blackened ash and leather lounge chairs form vignettes in reception. Maag and principal architect Linda Morey-Burrows visited showrooms together to select every furnishing. (“We fed off his passion and energy,” she dishes of her design-savvy client.)
Morey-Burrows took inspiration from the quality and masculinity of the brand, incorporating elements from its collections, such as saddlery stitching and brass hardware, in the design. Horsehair panels (used to structure the shoulders in Dunhill jackets) upholster a wall in reception while stitched leather wraps the reception desk and staircase handrail. Herringbone—that menswear classic—further threads Dunhill’s DNA throughout. Flooring is smoked oak in a chevron pattern; the same graphic details glass walls.
The palette was conceived with longevity in mind, Morey-Burrows continues. “We adopted high quality, durable materials that will remain pristine long into occupation.” (Or patinate with charm, as in the leather handrails and brass door pulls.) Either way, Dunhill’s headquarters is now an apt expression of the brand, from its aura of sober refinement to its commitment to British craftsmanship.
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Escorting several visitors through real-estate developer Madison Marquette’s new headquarters at the Wharf in Washington, D.C., chief development and asset management officer Peter Cole opens a closet door.
“Everybody squeeze in,” he commands. Inside is a counter with a white lacquered backsplash, which slides open seconds later to reveal a conference room. “In lengthy meetings, people wonder, Are we ever going to eat?” Cole explains. “Then they turn around and they’re like, Where did that buffet come from?”
Two of the visitors, Perkins + Will design principal Ken Wilson and senior associate Haley Nelson, have seen the trick many times. They designed it, after all, to convey hospitality as a theme for a developer whose many mixed-use projects, including the 3.2-million-square-foot Wharf itself, purposefully blur the traditional lines between living, work, and leisure.
Most of the 17,800-square-foot workplace operates on the show-don’t-tell principle, borrowing odd angles for phone rooms, embedding device chargers in terrazzo counters, and combining textures and finishes befitting a luxury hotel.
The company’s name appears hardly anywhere. The primary branding element is down a hallway leading to a conference area. On one side, a wall of glazing admits daylight and views of the Potomac River.
The eye is drawn, however, to the interior wall, where a series of 6-inch-wide, floor-to-ceiling aluminum fins—each imprinted with a slice of a photomural of the Wharf, rendered in bokeh effect—forms a lenticular installation: Approached from the right, the abstract image appears to be a daytime scene; from the left, it’s evening. Between the fins, a millwork display presents a photo series telling the company’s story through iconic projects from New Jersey to California.
“The images are held in place magnetically and can be switched out to reflect specific services,” Wilson says. Those include development, leasing, and management for 330 assets in 24 states and a $6.2 billion investment portfolio. Which means, Wilson says, that the most important design consideration was to create a space “that still looks good with boxes of pizza everywhere.”
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ASID 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design Report
The American Society of Interior Designers’ (ASID) 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design (OSID) report provides an extensive scan and summary of the essential knowledge needed to stay on top of constant change, to create a competitive edge, and to flourish in the interior design profession. The report first identifies key issues in the U.S. economy and construction industry to track during 2019 and includes projections based on 2018 conditions. A review of trends and disruptors at the macro-level, and in interior design specifically, comes next, including data that illustrates the state of interior design as a whole and the design implications that follow. The report ends with insights from interior design thought leaders on what they observe in practice and what to expect moving forward.
The U.S. economy saw improved growth in 2018 and the general outlook is for moderate economic growth in 2019 and 2020, but at a slower rate. Trade is a substantial risk to the economy with the imposition of tariffs increasing the prices of building materials. The stimulus from the 2017 tax cuts helped push the national unemployment rate, but increased federal debt and could result in higher interest rates. Despite the uncertainties and disruptions in economic activity, the overall outlook for 2019 is positive.
Trends, Disruptors, and the State of Interior Design
Macro-level trends and disruptors mimic the trends and disruptors we see in interior design, and these influence how interior designers run their businesses, create solutions to projects, and further advance the profession. A few highlights are:
Top issues interior design business leaders are tracking include economic conditions, competition from other firms, and price increases on goods, services, and construction materials.
Slight shifts in the services interior designers provide indicate a change in future business – including new markets hiring interior designers, new positions added in design teams, and an increase in contracted services.
Changes in the U.S. population’s demographics will reshape the built environment and require solutions that address diversity and inclusion.
Technology continues to evolve and be embedded in our lives and the spaces we inhabit. Designers need to keep up with the changes and anticipate how new technologies may alter the design paradigm in the future.
Future Insights from Thought Leaders
The impact of interior design on the human experience is receiving increasing attention. As clients become more educated and aware of the research and science that empowers design solutions, increased requirements for data and performative outcomes are pushing interior designers to explore new innovations and expand their scope of practice. Interior design needs to evolve along with the changes happening around us in order to stay relevant.
When YouTube took over the former Gap headquarters in San Bruno, California, it knew the 5,000-square-foot lobby required a refresh. The space needed to be welcoming, adaptable, and a versatile showcase not just for the brand, but also the work of YouTube’s 2 billion users.
Enter the team at Valerio Dewalt Train, who reduced the double-height atrium to its metallic structure illuminated by a full-length skylight. A green wall and stacked benches on the north side offer room to socialize. But the heart of the project is a digital wall. “It leverages a massive low-resolution screen into the wall construction,” says the firm’s principal Bill Turner, “creating an abstract dynamic backdrop to the space.”
There are 35,000 LEDs embedded around the displays, which are activated when users approach medallions on the floor beneath ceiling sensors. “They embody YouTube’s core principals while fostering a sense of discovery,” says studio director for media objectives Crystal Adams. Or, in other words, to click and play.