All white now *
IA Interior Architects displays pure genius for New York real-estate management company iStar Financial
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 11/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
In certain circles, white doesn't cut it past Labor Day. Better alert the fashion police: At iStar Financial in New York, white is in season all year-round, thanks to a serene and efficient scheme by IA Interior Architects. "The client asked us to make the office as white as we could," says associate John Mulling. Accordingly, he and principal Anthony Saviano developed a design that showcases a subtle expressive range, from alabaster to vanilla and sleek to soft.
Owning and managing commercial space worldwide, iStar knows the value of a well designed work environment. "It's important for our employees to have access to light and air," says vice president of administration Ed Baron. "A beautiful space is one thing. One that feels good is another. It's an intangible but psychologically important quality." And just the sort of elusive attribute that IA excels in capturing.
The project began as simply a boardroom redesign. Then, when adjacent space became available, the job's scope expanded to encompass the entire 20,000-square-foot floor plate—and the addition of work space and meeting areas.
Amid IA's new airy whiteness, the only splash of color is iStar chairman Jay Sugarman's collection of photographs. Practically everything else is white: Barcelona-chair knockoffs, angular Fabien Baron lounges, kitchen cabinets, conference tables, even workstations. (Is it just us, or is the foam on the cappuccinos from the iStar employee lounge just a little bit whiter than the norm?)
"With all the clean lines and pale hues, the decor could easily have veered to austere or boring," says Mulling. "As a result, we were extremely concerned about composition, lighting, and the play of textures." In the kitchen-lounge, a wall of MDF paneling is carved with a wavelike design and washed by halogen spots. Three conference tables are topped in back-painted white glass exhibiting an aqueous depth.
A band of statuary white marble encircles the vestibule outside the glass-fronted north conference room. To determine the best composition of the marble's dark gray veining, IA photographed each 4 1/2-foot square, made a quarter-scale mock-up of the vestibule, and tinkered with the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle, until satisfied. Inside the conference room, executives enjoy mile-high views from the comfort of Charles and Ray Eames's Soft Pad chairs, covered in leather that's admittedly black.
So are the task chairs both in private offices—which ring 80 percent of the perimeter—and in open work areas. Here, Mulling supported staff communication by avoiding overhead cabinets and sourcing partitions only 48 inches high. The white workstations, Baron's idea, were no easy feat. "I insisted on white. When manufacturers told us no, I didn't accept their answer," he says with a wink—and a flash of his pearly whites.
At iStar Financial's New York office, revamped by IA Interior Architects, the west conference room's chairs are perforated leather.
In the south conference room, Charles and Ray Eames's leather-upholstered Soft Pad chairs ring a custom tabletop of back-painted glass.
Aeron chairs contrast with the cubicle panels' recycled polyester.
A band of statuary marble encircles the north conference room's vestibule.
A back-painted glass top covers the boardroom's existing mahogany table.
Private offices occupy 80 percent of the perimeter.
Mounted photographs by Eric Zetterquist hang above workstations with dividers just 48 inches high.
In the kitchen-lounge, halogen spots wash a wall of carved MDF.