Dial "O" for Orange pix
Saguez & Partners juiced up a white box for the Paris office of Mediaedge: CIA
Ian Phillips -- Interior Design, 5/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Is it possible to be imaginative, productive, and economical in extremely banal surroundings? That's the rather interesting question designers and architects at Saguez & Partners found themselves pondering when faced with the case of Parisian media-buying firm Mediaedge: CIA. On the one hand, the client has a reputation for being avant-garde and high-tech when it comes to product placement on the Internet and cell phones. On the other hand, the project's location in a faceless office building was anything but inspiring. "It has absolutely zero charm," president Olivier Saguez asserts. "Initially, they were afraid of moving here."
Mediaedge: CIA had little choice, however. Not only had holding company GroupM decided to consolidate its various local entities under one roof, but Mediaedge: CIA had also more than outgrown a late 19th-century stone mansion in the tony 16th Arrondissement. "They had to have meetings in the corridors, perched on the edges of armchairs," S&P creative director Bernard Astor recalls.
For Astor, actually, the anonymity of the new premises was not a disadvantage. "I prefer a space that doesn't have too much personality," he says. "You can express yourself in whatever way you like." At least within certain limits. Mediaedge: CIA insisted that its new 14,000-square-foot office adhere to a color chart and a list of fonts. Finally, there was an express desire for a homey atmosphere in which, CEO Arnaud Serre says, "people really feel at ease."
To that end, Saguez and Astor integrated convivial touches everywhere. Armchairs and sofas are upholstered in vivid red and orange. In the Web Bar—named for the long Corian counter at which staff and clients can brainstorm online, side by side—one wall is artfully lined with photographs that deconstruct the facial features of a smiling man and woman.
The reception area steers well away from conventional notions of formality. Visitors are greeted by a glass of water or a piece of fruit, set out on a bar-height communal table. Sitting at one end of the table is an orange vintage rotary telephone that clients from such companies as Chanel and DaimlerChrysler use to call the person they've come to meet.
Besides the pop nostalgia represented by that telephone, the overall look features a profusion of nature allusions. Behind the table in reception, a row of birch trunks lines a window wall. Photo enlargements of birch and beech forests, printed on adhesive vinyl film, are applied to glass partitions. A wall in one of the management offices is covered with a magnified image of tree bark.
One need, pinpointed early on, was for a variety of options for meeting spaces. "They have a real mania for them," Saguez says. Management offices have their own meeting tables and chairs. There are four traditional conference rooms as well as four brightly colored cubes, each just big enough to contain a three-sided banquette reminiscent of those in a traditional bistro. The cubes are named after their particular colors. Cumulus is the light-blue one, Nectarine the jazzy orange one, and Granny the apple-green one.
With colors so crucial to the entire design, S&P introduced the theme straight off. The elevator lobby's walls are crisscrossed with lines that run the gamut from one end of the rainbow to the other. "It really wakes people up when they arrive," Astor explains. On a sidewall, the emphasis shifts to black-and-white: Printed on a canvas banner is a huge photo of a man drawing Mediaedge: CIA's logo with a stick in the sand.
Less colorful but absolutely essential, storage space—lots of it—was paramount among the practical considerations. "They receive an incredible amount of magazines and correspondence each day," Astor says. "In their old office, things were lying all over the place." The laminated-oak shelving of the library now stands waiting to be filled.
The open office area's plywood built-ins and the four-unit workstations' glass partitions address acoustical issues. Carpet also absorbs sound, creating a hush that's more than conducive to productivity. And how about being economical? The budget for the project came in at less than $75 per square foot.