Rineke van Duysen -- Interior Design, 9/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Coty. The very name evokes an era when eye shadow shimmered, mascara was thick, and lipstick went on glossy. Of course, the beauty world has changed, and the Coty empire now includes luxury fragrances, posh French skin-care line Lancaster, and edgy beauty brand Rimmel. Planning to consolidate three New York offices—and 150 employees—on two floors of a patrician building on lower Park Avenue, the company handed Ted Moudis Associates 75,000 square feet of raw space with 11-foot ceilings and full-height windows.
Materials and textures surprise, starting in reception. Focal walls are clad in what looks like rough-cut slate but is actually ceramic. (Cheaper, lighter, and smoother than stone.) Also ceramic, biscuit-colored floor tiles with thin steel borders alternate with swaths of bamboo. The same bamboo clads the curving surround of an electric fireplace. Near it, a '70's-style round shag rug anchors bouclé-upholstered Womb chairs by Eero Saarinen. "Normally, we don't mix surfaces and textures this much in a corporate setting, but Coty really let us get busy with it," Ted Moudis says.
Design manager Luis Valcarcel and design director Jacqueline Barr extended the reception area's strips of bamboo flooring into the adjacent boardroom and a smaller conference room. In the event of a town-hall meeting, both rooms' stacked glass sliders open up to reception, creating one vast space.
On both the executive floor, the lower of the two, and the one above, Valcarcel and Barr adopted a standard model of perimeter offices and interior workstations. "We did a ton of analysis, and the bones of the building lent themselves to this traditional route. The window-to-core measurements aren't deep, for one thing," Barr says.
The open work area receives natural light, thanks to the offices' glass fronts. To improve acoustics for the workstations, the duo designed floating ceiling panels that run the length of the spaces but preserve the full height on either side. In subtle ways, the designers retained the slightly industrial feel of the gutted space. For example, Valcarcel says, "Instead of clear plastic bumper guards on the columns, we used steel panels and big, bulky bolts."
Literal and visual connection between floors comes courtesy of a staircase in steel and limestone, backed by a wall tiled in that ceramic "slate." At the bottom of the stair stands a glass case hosting a revolving display of fragrances. At the top of the stair is the canteen, where things take a turn for the tongue-in-cheek. This "retro moment," according to Barr, is replete with George Nelson lanterns, powder-blue banquettes, and complementary wall covering in a mod print. A curtain of stainless-steel mesh can be drawn across the front of the canteen for lunch meetings.
Break-out areas are fun, too. Two semicircular meeting pods are surrounded by workstations, while another makes use of an awkward corner. All three are designated by a checkerboard of carpet tiles in milky blue or rusty red, contrasting with the dark gray overall.
And so the New York headquarters is everything Coty ought to be: sophisticated yet casual, presenting a pretty face to the world.