How sweet it is
Cindy Coleman -- Interior Design, 5/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Got a sweet tooth? Apparently the security guards at Storck do. Ever since Eastlake Studio completed a new Chicago office for the German candy company—installing walnut-finished dispensers of Werther's Originals, Mercis, Riesens, and Knoppers in the reception area—the guards have been dropping by for frequent inspections.
Storck's version of the water cooler, the custom dispensers are a "popular pit stop," admits principal Tom Zurowski, who mounted a row of them on brushed stainless-steel poles to double as a divider between reception and the main corridor. Centrally located, reception's oval shape softens the rectilinearity of the floor plate—14,000 square feet in the city's former traffic-court building. The oval's glazed outer half is defined by a curved walnut railing and draped in aluminum mesh.
Zurowski left concrete columns and ductwork exposed and placed shared facilities and the main work area along the office's 400-foot-long window wall, with its fabulous views of the Chicago River. Workstations form a pinwheel at the center of each column bay. "This positioning breaks up the linear scale and creates a lively atmosphere," explains the architect. He and his team combined components of two Herman Miller systems—Ethospace's metallic-finished low partitions, which coordinate with the overall color scheme, and Resolve's translucent Lycra mesh canopies, for their ability to disperse light. Eastlake Studio also redesigned the canopies' supporting poles to channel lighting, power, and data from the ceiling.
A dozen executive offices occupy the building core, with glass fronts etched one third of the way up. "People thought they'd lose privacy with the glazing," says Zurowski. "They were pleasantly surprised when they realized they could have privacy and transparency simultaneously."
Employees are also sweet on the complementary contrast between an austere white architectural envelope and warmer details. Offices are fitted with walnut storage units and sycamore-topped desks. Upholstery fabrics incorporate Storck's logo colors: red, orange, and chocolate brown. In reception and the employee café, red and orange enlivens the terrazzo flooring. Hallways and work areas are carpeted in a brown circle pattern.
Zurowski knew the combination was a winner when a longtime employee approached the group president and said, "I feel like I've started a new job." Combining fun with function, the design has indeed encouraged Storck staff to work together more playfully—it's candy, after all.