A personal interest in Modern design on the part of this company’s founder and CEO made the design of this office in Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building for a young real estate investment management company an exercise in sleek surfaces, museum-quality furnishings, and exacting details. A white palette is used throughout the office, with accents provided by art, exquisite furniture, and a deep-blue glass wall that encloses the boardroom at the heart of the office--the color is the company’s brand, used on its website and letterhead. The entry lobby is a welcoming space, appointed with high-gloss white lacquer and back-painted glass panels and a white marble floor to convey a sense of Modern sophistication and financial success to visitors and employees. The reception waiting area is a carpet raft of subtle shades of white, furnished with Knoll furniture designed by the building’s original architect. Other furnishings designed by Charles and Ray Eames reiterate the theme of Modern refinement. The entry’s marble flooring is interrupted by a ribbon of rich, dark wood that connects the executive offices with the trading floor--the literal and figurative connection between executives and their traders. The trading floor needs to be a distraction-free zone, so the choice of white works with this program requirement, along with the low workstations, which permit uninterrupted views across the space. This expansive vista communicates a sense of “transparency,” which is a quality that the investment firm wants to accentuate in the office design, aligned with its own stated business practices. Executive offices and meeting spaces are enclosed with transparent glass partitions. The architect worked with Mies’ existing periphery lighting locations (which could not be altered) and chose fixtures designed to accentuate the all-white palette.
This office interior is in the famed Seagram Building in New York, designed by the legendary Modern architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The client is a young real estate investment management company that does a $9 billion business, and the company founder and CEO knows what he likes. He has a cultivated interest in architecture and interior design, is aware of the stature of the building’s famous architect, and has a passion for minimalist, exacting Modernism. The client wanted an office that would express his own tastes and sympathies, and no detail was too small for his personal input and deliberation. He was actively involved throughout the conceptual stage, design development, and execution—even down to the punch-list. The client wanted an environment that was free of distractions—so the pristine white palette helped to achieve a neutral interior that could display the office’s museum-quality furnishings. The company’s own client-base of established, wealthy investors expects to be welcomed and hosted in a setting whose design is refined, with an eye for carefully crafted features that convey a level of attention to detail that success in the investment world demands. Also important in this realm is transparency—particularly in business dealings--and the design incorporates a multitude of transparent walls and surfaces that convey this quality. The program for this 14,000-square-foot space included a reception area, an open trading floor, private offices for the firm’s executives, a board room, a small conference room, and an employee lounge/pantry. The architect worked very closely with the CEO in a collaborative way to achieve a design that was aligned with his vision of the company’s identity, and the interior’s function as an expression of refinement, exactitude, and transparency.