The Well-Dressed Office
When a Manhattan law firm occupying an entire floor at a prime Midtown address had outgrown the traditional layout of its offices, the lawyers were beyond reluctant to leave. The attorneys’ offices were fully enclosed, and the administrative staff was situated in the middle of the floor, which was devoid of natural light. But what could top a 1920s landmark building on East 57th Street? Another floor in the same building, one fully renovated by New York–based Ghiora Aharoni Design Studio according to their client’s specifications.
The firm’s principal asked Aharoni – known for polished, minimalist residential projects – to bring a similar sensibility to his established law practice specializing in the arts and entertainment fields. The designer’s response was to create an office that, in his words, “was like a well-designed black suit,” displaying an “understated yet elegant seriousness.” A limited color palette (predominantly black and white) and only a few materials create a crisp, bright atmosphere that acts as an ideal backdrop to the firm’s impressive contemporary art collection.
The law firm’s new home was delivered to Aharoni as a raw canvas: 5,000 square feet of gutted space. The designer left the beams exposed to amplify the feeling of expansiveness. As there are windows on three sides of the floor, he used glass walls to delineate offices around the perimeter and allow sunlight to suffuse the rest of the interior. The entry wall facing the elevator is also glass, producing the effect of an office nestled inside a glass box.
The office is like a well-designed black suit, with a minimalist aesthetic that conveys an understated yet elegant seriousness.
The centerpiece is a USM Haller storage unit that conceals the administrative workstations without diminishing the feeling of openness. “When you step off the elevator,” Aharoni says, “it reads as a sleek black rectangle floating in the middle of the floor.” The rectangle is echoed in the black stone tile directly underneath the USM piece, as well as by the light fixture suspended above it. “This rectangular form is used throughout the office – in the glass wall and door frames, the conference table, the banks of filing cabinets, and the custom-made, grooved cherry wood wall at the entry – to create a subtle geometric order and visual continuity that unify the space,” the designer says. Aharoni chose Jasper Morrison’s Monopod chairs and Mies van der Rohe’s Brno chairs, both with curved silhouettes, to create a counterpoint to the rectilinear motif.
Through high-quality materials, design, and craftsmanship, the office conveys a subtle sophistication to visitors and clients – just like a custom-tailored black suit.