Their Own Best Advertisement
Ron Nyren -- Interior Design, 11/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Venables, Bell & Partners is known not only for its irreverent ads—the flash-animated Napster cat and the opera-singing golfers of the Barclays Classic—but also for practicality and collaborative spirit. Those last two traits meant that principal Collin Burry was able to involve his client to an unusual degree when he designed the agency's headquarters in San Francisco's Union Square. In fact, his team borrowed the agency's very own creative-development techniques, taking the ad execs through adjective-sorting exercises to define the Venables, Bell & Partners identity, then sorting photographs of different spaces, textures, and lighting setups. The results led Burry to juxtapose traditional and contemporary elements, reflecting the agency's personality. "Grounded," he says. "But with a twist."
Exposed concrete columns ring the two-floor 12,000-square-foot space, with much of the agency's energy being generated in workstations near the windows. This "super-collaborative environment," as cofounder Greg Bell describes it, mixes creatives, media planners, account executives, and production specialists. Break-out areas abound, outfitted with small tables and pinup or dry-erase boards. At the core of the space, white walls enclose partners' offices and conference rooms before curving up and out to meet a surprisingly classical egg-and-dart coffered ceiling.
Awards displays are a staple in the advertising business. For the Venables, Bell & Partners "tower of power," Burry installed frosted-acrylic shelves between steel supports rising between the stringers of the main staircase. So rows of Effie, Clio, and Cannes Lions awards are visible from all directions, inspiration for future campaigns.
In the conference room adjacent to reception, a pendant globe of epoxy and fiberglass hangs above Charles and Ray Eames chairs and a custom zebrawood table.
Clockwise from top left: Flights of stairs sandwich the award tower's frosted-acrylic shelves. Plaster coffers are detailed with an egg-and-dart motif. Maple strips compose Antoni Arola's pendant fixture, centered above an Eames table and chairs in the upstairs conference room. The reception area's custom table was made by placing a square of salvaged western ash on wool-covered ottomans. Ward Bennet's Scissor lounge chairs sit in the café. The team area's Alvar Aalto chair faces a custom wool-upholstered sofa. Zebrawood-veneered pendant fixtures are visible from across the street. In the café, walnut stools complement a custom tabletop of salvaged bay laurel.
From left: An open-plan office area mixes creative types, media planners, account executives, and production specialists. Beyond reception, a central plasterboard volume holds private offices and conference rooms.
PROJECT TEAM: RHONDA PETROV; LAURIE PETIPAS; STEVE SUZUKI; BATYA ALOUSH; JON PETERSON. PENDANT FIXTURE (DOWNSTAIRS CONFERENCE ROOM): MOOOI. CUSTOM TABLE: DEPENDABLE FURNITURE MANUFACTURING. RUG: BLOOMSBURG CARPET INDUSTRIES. CHAIRS (CONFERENCE ROOMS), TABLE (UPSTAIRS CONFERENCE ROOM), CHAIR (TEAM AREA): HERMAN MILLER. DESK (RECEPTION): UNITED FURNITURE OF AMERICA. CARPET (STAIR): BLUE RIDGE COMMERCIAL CARPET. PENDANT FIXTURE (UPSTAIRS CONFERENCE ROOM): SANTA COLE. CHAIR UPHOLSTERY (UPSTAIRS CONFERENCE ROOM, CAF): GLANT TEXTILES CORPORATION. CUSTOM OTTOMANS (RECEPTION), CUSTOM SOFA (TEAM AREA): KROLL FURNITURE. CUSTOM TABLETOPS (RECEPTION, CAF): EVAN SHIVELY. CHAIRS ( CAF): GEIGER INTERNATIONAL. COFFEE TABLE: ROOM BOARD. STOOLS: CHERNER CHAIR COMPANY. PENDANT FIXTURES ( CAF, RECEPTION): LAMPA. SOFA FABRIC (TEAM AREA): DESIGNTEX. CHAIR FABRIC: UNIKA VAEV. WORKSTATIONS (OFFICE AREA): TEKNION. CHAIRS: KEILHAUER. CEILING GRID: USG. CEILING TILE: FINISH LINE. MILLWORK: MISSION BELL MANUFACTURING. GLASSWORK, METALWORK: LEES IMPERIAL WELDING. LIGHTING CONSULTANT: ARCHITECTURE LIGHT. STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: KPFF CONSULTING ENGINEERS. ELECTRICAL ENGINEER: GOLDEN GATE ENGINEERING. PROJECT MANAGER: JULIE CASTELERO PROJECT MANAGEMENT. GENERAL CONTRACTOR: PRINCIPAL BUILDERS.