Ted Moudis Associates (TMA) recently completed IPG Mediabrands' new, 95,000-square-foot office at 100 West 33rd Street in New York City. The full-floor space was already built-out for a previous tenant, and TMA modified it for Mediabrands on a minimal budget. Here, TMA's task was not to create a new space from scratch, but to make drastic changes to an existing space that is bound by strict architectural and budget parameters.
TMA was tasked with creating an environment that would support Mediabrands' move to a free address alternate workstyle that eliminated private offices and assigned seating. The floor had high ceilings and open areas, but was a bit busy, and the existing layout needed a visual cleaning-up. In a situation like this, the first order of business is to really understand the existing space - its limitations and benefits - and TMA was able to receive unrestricted access to the office throughout the design phase. This early access was crucial in deciding which of the existing items TMA could use - the reception desk stayed, and was later clad with faux fur to give it a unique look - and what needed to be removed. TMA also understood early on that the space was best utilized if it was broken into zones, each with its own distinct design and environment.
The decision to create distinct and separate areas pushed TMA to be extremely creative with other design elements that would support this strategy. Color - a common and inexpensive way to transform a space - was vital to the Mediabrands project. It was used to define the different neighborhoods, as a tool for wayfinding, and to enhance and define existing architectural forms. Color was also a key component of the branding - both the entryway and one of the gathering areas were painted the company's signature bold yellow, spreading from the wall onto the floor, creating a pathway of sorts. Creative use of lighting fixtures also helped to make the space more vibrant. Nearly all of the lighting for this project was existing, but certain fixtures were repurposed to different areas to create varying aesthetics and moods.
Strategic use of wallcoverings, carpeting and tile, paint, drapery, and graphics can create a more playful office environment within the confines of a budget. In the case of Mediabrands, TMA relied heavily on these materials, as well as dabs of fur, rope, boxwood, and ceramics, to help define the individual spaces. In the reception area and near the elevator banks TMA created custom carpeting that replicated the mosaic commonly found on oriental rugs. This is paired with the fur-cladding of the existing reception desk and a highly-textured rope wall.
In one of the breakout rooms, scale was played with as much as possible, and TMA designed a large, Versailles-inspired black-and white tile pattern that was juxtaposed with wallpaper featuring oversized pink and white flowers. The tone of the salon space is decidedly Roman-inspired, with white tiled floors and desks, feathery chair cushions, funky, vintage-style blue furniture, framed by wallpaper on three sides that features statues from that era.
Several of the conference rooms received their own unique looks; one in the red zone boasts a red carpet paired with a black-and-white, floor-to-ceiling graphic of shelving filled with books and other items, while another features a Jackson Pollack-style floor covering that climbs to fill one accent wall. A third utilizes an existing wrap-around white board; the design team played off of the black-and-white neighborhoods throughout the office and painted black stripes above and below the white board, then added a charcoal rug. The ceiling also features the same black-and-white motif. A black-and-white striped sitting mannequin topped with a like lampshade is parked in the corner.
TMA also made use of faux boxwood to create a hedge-like element that runs along the length of the café on one side, with cutouts for several private conference rooms that came with the previous build-out, and an archway that leads into the pantry. Other playful elements included drip wallpaper and a tech tent decked out entirely in black-and-white - furniture, drapes, wallpaper.
The furniture was also vitally important to this project because in addition to providing a variety of work spaces that support the free address concept, it helped to define and create spaces where no architecture existed. TMA employed everything from cost-effective fur-covered chairs and plush daybeds, a gigantic floor lamp that portrayed a desk lamp, to an edgier wooden seat carved into the shape of a hand.
Photography: Garrett Rowland