Contract - May 2011 - (Page 108)

design hive life The Moderns’ New York studio buzzes with activity, creativity, and inspiration By Danine Alati • Photography by Elizabeth Felicella What does a design and branding firm do when a flood destroys its office? Creative minds seize the disaster-turned-opportunity and redesign it into a workspace that facilitates ingenuity, environmental and social equity, and multidisciplinary branding. In October 2009 when 8,000 gallons of water rushed into The Moderns’ New York office in 10 minutes, Janine James, the firm’s president, solutionist, and chief creative director, dubbed the incident “tsunami for change” and reevaluated what her 20-year-old company would be in future decades before designing a new office. “We brainstormed: What is our brand? What makes us relevant?” James recalls. “Everyone wrote down where they work best. The funny thing is no one said the office.” Instead, they cited at home or a hotel, in an airport or an airplane, on a front porch or at the beach, at a Starbucks or a café. The designers questioned whether or not they actually needed physical space, and decided: “Yes, we want space, but we want it to bridge us to the outside world, as opposed to isolating us from it. And that informed the design,” James explains. “We thought: Why—through paint, materials, and aesthetic—can’t we make it feel like one of those places other than an office?” This brainstorming incited the concept for the new workspace, which The Moderns found in the same building their previous office occupied. The double-height gem of a space perfectly lent itself to the creation of a workplace that shatters the typical office mold. The 2,500-sq.-ft. floor plan was split in half. On one side, bleachers rise up like an “amphitheater,” culminating in a “front porch” area just outside the executive office shared by James and her partner, Kevin Szell. On this porch, two Artek chairs by Alvar Aalto create a beachy vibe and form a perfect spot for morning coffee, overlooking the conference area below and out through oversized arched windows to the bustling street. The Moderns uses the bleachers area to conduct its “corporate alchemy process,” the brainstorming and innovation methods for the firm’s strategy work, which is very private. A massive door, milled from 50-year-old hemlock beams, slides out from within a wall to close off this half of the office to offer privacy. This side of the space also accommodates a program called “Imagine the Next Friday,” a concept that James and Szell devised to keep their team inspired. The idea is The Moderns work four days a week inspiring clients, and they take the fifth day (Friday) to inspire themselves. Each staff member owns one Friday and can do anything to inspire coworkers—show films or work; engage in a project, social-media endeavor, or self-promotion piece; or bring in speakers or guests. “This space has really been used to activate,” James explains. It’s also great for fundraisers. 108 contract may 2011 www.contractdesign.com http://www.contractdesign.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - May 2011

Contract - May 2011
Contents
Industry
Resources: Salone Internazionale Del Mobile
Exhibition: Neocon® Preview
Focus: Timeless Tradition
Focus: In the Nude
Green: Does It Cost More to Build Green?
Practice: Gimme Some Slack!
Hat Trick
Eloquent Transformation
New Life
Design Alchemy
Home Cooking
Hive Life
Par Excellence
Designers Rate
Process: Cultural Connection
Process: Productive, People-Friendly Places
Sources
Ad Index
Perspectives

Contract - May 2011

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/contract/201405
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/contract/201404
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/contract/201403
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/contract/iida_red2014
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/contract/201401
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201312
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201311
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201310
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201310_v2
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201309
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20130708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20130708_neocon_supplement
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201306
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201305
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201304
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201303
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20130102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201212
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201211
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201210
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201209
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_ncw_201208
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201208
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201206
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201205
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201204
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201203
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20120102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20111112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201110
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201109
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_2011neoconwinners
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201108
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201106
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201105
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201104
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201103
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20110102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20101112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201010
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201009
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20100708
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201006
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201005
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201004
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_201003
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_20100102
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200911
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200909
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200910
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200908
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200907
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200906
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200905
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200904
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200903
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200902
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nielsen/contract_200901
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com