Hide and Chic
For leather supplier Spinneybeck, Emanuela Frattini Magnusson combines office and warehouse at a singularly stylish headquarters
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 5/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Spinneybeck, a supplier of upscale upholstery leathers, realized two years ago that, thanks to a recent growth spurt, the company's cramped headquarters in upstate New York was about to burst at the seams. Just in the nick of time, executives happened upon a commercial development under construction in the town of Getzville. The facility was large enough to accommodate a corporate headquarters as well as a warehouse for Spinneybeck's ever expanding line of multihued full-grain hides, and it was early enough in the building process that the developers were willing to make structural modifications. Spinneybeck snapped up 31,000 square feet of the complex and called on the professional whose design sensibility the company has relied on for custom products and color development over the past seven years: New York architect Emanuela Frattini Magnusson. The resulting design, a lofty warehouse with a dose of luxe, is a far cry from the humble Canadian schoolhouse that Spinneybeck occupied when it was founded 30 years ago.
Magnusson incorporated Spinneybeck products as decorative elements throughout the interior, which reads as a veritable study of the company's comprehensive leather lines. "Since the space sees a constant flow of architecture and design professionals, it was important to illustrate how leather can be used in architectural applications," she explains.
In the reception area, pale yellow leather-wrapped panels of various textures form a modular wall system that can be changed periodically. (Four of the panels incorporate pockets for displaying magazines and marketing materials.) Saarinen executive side chairs and a custom Knoll sofa are upholstered in red, Spinneybeck's corporate color, to add precisely the right amount of zing.
The office space beyond features a quieter palette, of gray and beige. "Since new color collections and samples are reviewed here daily, a neutral backdrop seemed the most appropriate," Magnusson reasons. Satisfying Spinneybeck's request for a nonhierarchical, open plan to foster interaction among staff members, the designer selected low-rise partitioned workstations. Two private offices were created solely for human resources and purchasing-contract work. A grid of exposed ductwork defines the 20-foot ceiling, punctuated by spherical light fixtures. "I chose the globes because of their familiar quality. It's positive and nurturing rather than high-tech industrial," says Magnusson, who had chosen the same pendants for her own firm's offices. The Spinneybeck conference room got unobtrusive down-spots and track lighting. A dropped ceiling creates an intimacy conducive to meetings, and red leather-upholstered chairs and a beech-topped Knoll Propeller table strike a punchy note against a serene gray carpet.
One of the crucial features that attracted Spinneybeck to the Getzville site was having enough space to consolidate both office and warehouse operations under one roof, allowing employees better access to and familiarity with the full product line and production process. A vast inventory, some two million square feet of tanned and colored hides, is stored in large cardboard tubes in a high-ceilinged warehouse adjacent to the office proper. This seamless marriage of administration and inventory—as well as of product and interior—epitomizes Spinneybeck's understanding that good design means good business.