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Andrew Stone | April 10, 2012
As an award-winning innovator in corporate interior design, M Moser Design Director Bill Bouchey brings a thoughtful approach to age-old workplace quandaries that result in dynamic workspaces for a diverse group of clients. Bouchey’s tenure at his previous firm, Mancini Duffy, established him as a rising star in the industry thanks to his work on projects for companies such as Wachovia Corporation, Time Warner, and Latham & Watkins. Here, he talks about his current client collaboration, biking through Brooklyn, and the awe-inspiring allure of an old factory.
INTERIOR DESIGN: Is there any “bottom line,” in terms of the kinds of projects you’re willing to take on?
BILL BOUCHEY: We’re competing for commissions, and our attitude as a small growing practice is not to turn anything down and instead look for the opportunity to make something more than it presents itself. I love the phrase: “exploit and unearth” the potential kernels of design opportunity and turn them into ideas that can add value and be beautiful or sculptural. In doing so, we can show clients the best something can be.
ID: What’s a current project that’s particularly fun or fulfilling?
BB: I’d say the most exciting is a workspace we’re creating for an advertising agency in [NYC’s] Meatpacking District. The building happens to be right above the High Line. The client—a division of WPP—focuses on luxury branding so they wanted to be in the hotbed of the city’s luxury retail area. We helped steer them there.
ID: That is some of the most prominent walk-by space in Manhattan… What will the space offer passersby?
BB: The window line is right above the park so people on the High Line will see a luminous box above them. Meanwhile, the creative team that’s going to inhabit this agency space will benefit from the views to the south, north and west. The heritage of the building is interesting… It’s the last old floor in a building with ten glass floors above it, and I love that juxtaposition. We’re creating a subtle dialogue between preserved old elements and new, more polished elements.
ID: What clients are the most satisfying to work with?
BB: The ones who are the most passionate, high energy, and design-savvy. I enjoy a lot of debate. Discourse allows us to listen, acknowledge, and respond… and ultimately achieve what we’re looking for. The “debate” strengthens my connection to the client. Inevitably I understand more deeply what we’re both attempting to achieve for the space. ID: What about your own home, when that dialogue is removed?
BB: I’ve always preferred a modern and contemporary point of view—I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Modernist—but stylistically I like to play with all viewpoints. In my own home, it’s a mix of vintage and modern with playful art.
ID: Are there any spaces that you like to wander around a while?
BB: I find old factories and industrial buildings really inspiring… purposeful architecture with rough shells and smooth machinery. Aside from that, Red Hook and Sunset Park in Brooklyn where I ride my vintage Raleigh… a metallic chocolate brown vintage one I call “Major Dickenson,” after my favorite coffee.
ID: What “great design” first grabbed you when you were growing up?
BB: I collect vintage staplers. As a kid, I thought there was something amazing about the old Swingline staplers, their weight and design. My dad worked as a chemist in a lab where I first saw them… They looked like vintage cars to me. I was also really influenced by The Jetsons. The color used in that animated environment made simple forms bold, not boring. I like a primary, bold splash of color expressed in an environment—often on a main element—with pops of other colors for punctuation.
ID: Are there any cities you’d say are an architect’s dream?
BB: As a boy, I’d come to New York with my dad, who took me to see the Seagram’s Building and the Lever House. They were certainly unlike anything we had in the town were I lived upstate. Now, I’d say Paris and Milan. There are some of the most exceptional under-the-radar projects going on there… glass box additions into these Sixteen- and Seventeenth-Century building. You’ll be walking down the street in Milan, and on first impression you think you’re looking at a 16th Century building, and then you realize there’s more going on… a glass partition system and these amazing divisions.
ID: At the end of the day, what’s the most satisfying part of your job?
BB: That’s coaching and advocating for the younger talent that I work with. I say “coach and advocate,” not mentor because I try to just model a way of developing ideas. I want them to cultivate their own points of view, help them to succeed and to be recognized. That’s about giving back what I was given.