Here's To Success
Andrew Yang -- Interior Design, 5/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
An office is not generally a place to party. Unless the business in question happens to produce top-shelf champagne and spirits. Created last year in the merger of Clicquot, Schieffelin & Co., and Millennium Import, Moët Hennessy proceeded to hire TPG Architecture to convert a 56,000-square-foot New York space into a U.S. headquarters, one suitable for tastings and events that project the youthful, upscale image sought by parent company LVMH, the French fashion and luxury-goods conglomerate.
The main feature of the interior is a curved rolled-steel wall densely lined with fluorescent-backlit, vacuum-formed acrylic lenses—resembling bottles in a wine cellar. This wall starts in reception and continues along a central corridor, past a tasting lounge, to terminate at the far end of the office.
Opposite this curved wall is a straight one clad in pale sycamore, with a long horizontal niche for bottle display. Most days, the niche is lined with company products, from Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot to Glenmorangie and Hennessy. For events, those can be swapped out for whatever's being showcased. "On one hand, you have this organic, feminine shape," TPG principal Jim Phillips says. "On the other, you have a plane that's severe in its simplicity."
Set between them, midway down the central corridor, an oval tasting lounge stands ready for action, equipped with Sputnik-esque pendant fixtures and clusters of tables and chairs where clients and journalists gather for a mimosa or a Scotch on the rocks. With the lights dimmed for events, the vibe is definitely clublike. Guests can belly up to the marble-topped bar or meander into a nearby glassed-in conference room—which feels more like a VIP room, thanks to a computer-controlled color-changing light system.
Much of the design was driven by the integrated brands' new direction and the office's surroundings, notably the meatpacking district's high-end hotels, bars, and restaurants—where the best Moët Hennessy products end up. Celebrity chef Mario Batali's Del Posto is right downstairs; Morimoto, designed by Tadao Ando, is across the street. "That spirit permeates our office," says Moët Hennessy's senior vice president for operations, Walter Sawitsky.
Not quite penetrating this second-floor space is the High Line, the freight rails that Diller Scofidio + Renfro is converting into a public park. A section of the elevated structure used to run directly through the building, a former factory. TPG's renovation involved covering the tracks and installing a raised floor of 2-foot-square concrete tile. The rails now dead-end at reception's full-height windows.
Along two other window walls, Phillips lined up 28 executive offices with interior glass partitions and frosted film applied at eye level. Instead of separating staff by brand groups, Moët Hennessy opted to mix everyone—from administration to marketing and sales—at the approximately 80 workstations outside the private offices. All of which proves that—despite the party possibilities—Moët Hennessy really is a place of business.