No Need to Panic
At PostPanic, a production studio in Amsterdam, Maurice Mentjens has every last detail under control
Shonquis Moreno -- Interior Design, 11/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
In a technological world, where office is home, and home is office, the video production house PostPanic was looking for a sandbox as much as a work environment—not only a place where inspiration is brought to life but also a place that's a source of inspiration in itself. And so, in a brick building erected on a 17th-century dock in Amsterdam, Maurice Mentjens Design created a permanent playground, minus the dot-com era foosball table.
With a continually shifting roster of clients for TV commercials, PostPanic reconfigures its teams constantly. The actual staff is only 14 people, but that number swells to more than 40 when freelancers for production, motion graphics, and computer-generated imagery arrive. Accordingly, PostPanic asked Mentjens for discrete yet flexible facilities in addition to maintaining open space to screen films and sports matches, install exhibitions, and hold seminars to keep creatives fresh. The result? A 6,100-square-foot, two-level interior that manages to balance expressiveness with neutrality.
Visible immediately from the entrance, three built-in elements make statements on a grand scale. Bursting overhead is a vast chandelier made from fluorescent linear fixtures, a supernova long-armed enough to reach into the animation studio on the mezzanine. To the left, rising from ground level, broad oak bleachers provide both a shortcut to the mezzanine and seating for screenings. (Projection equipment is cleverly housed in the top step.) To the right, a pair of enormous oak doors pivot open to the meeting room.
A windowless, tunnellike space with radiused corners, it's wrapped entirely in chocolate-brown carpet as a low-cost method of soundproofing. The long conference table, which literally peels up from the center of the floor, is clad in white plastic laminate; surrounding chairs by Charles and Ray Eames have polypropylene shell seats in a bright blue that's sure to get creative juices flowing. And that's just one example of the way that Mentjens twins opposites throughout the office, tempering solid colors and clean forms with doses of the unexpected.
"My work is like a couture gown designed for a particular customer," he explains. Take his inventive and inexpensive acoustical choices. Like the cocoon in the meeting room, Persian-patterned carpet lines a wall and the floor in the production studio as well as a seating alcove in the editing suite. In the latter, strips of white acoustical material also run across the ceiling and down the walls.
Some elements are clearly meant to be attention-grabbing. In the lounge outside the meeting room, the Marc Newson chairs have fire-engine red seat and back cushions. At the foot of the bleachers, in the open-plan staff café, the chairs at the communal table are lemon yellow, lime green, or citrus orange. Humble pipes attract notice, too. Exposed and wrapped in shiny silver insulation, they snake across the ceiling plane. "The pipes and the starburst chandelier are on the cusp between design and art," Mentjens says.
He also knows how to be subtle, and that ensures the coherence of his projects. At PostPanic, he used the same muted aloe green for worktables and flooring in the animation studio. Most flooring is gray concrete finished with clear epoxy. Massive concrete structural columns stand unadorned.
Mentjens's interior untethers the office from cables, cubicles, and corporate culture, all in the service of a creative class determined to stay turned on. "It's about engagement," he suggests. "The office now has to be a place where you feel at home, not just a boring, functional work space." It's time for recreational swim in the labor pool.
Photography by Arjen Schmitz.
FROM FRONT LEOXX: CARPET (MEETING ROOM). EGETAEPPER CUSTOM CARPET: CUSTOM CARPET (PRODUCTION, EDITING SUITE). FRITZ EGGER: CUSTOM TABLES (PRODUCTION, MEETING ROOM). ATELIER VAN LIESHOUT: CHAIRS (PRODUCTION, OFFICE). HAY: CHAIRS (CAFÉ). MAGIS: CHAIRS (LOUNGE). MERFORD: ACOUSTICAL STRIPS (EDITING SUITE). WODEGO: DESK SURFACING (EDITING SUITE, OFFICE, ANIMATION STUDIO), TABLE SURFACING (MEETING ROOM). VITRA: CHAIRS (MEETING ROOM). LAGOTRONICS: CEILING FIXTURES. DUTCHDECO: CUSTOM WALL COVERING (HALL, ANIMATION STUDIO). HERMAN MILLER: CHAIRS (ANIMATION STUDIO). ARTIGO: FLOORING. THROUGHOUT THROUGH REXEL NEDERLAND: LINEAR FIXTURES.