Better Than Brown-Bagging It
Judith Davidsen -- Interior Design, 9/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Get off the elevator at Mad River Post by Kostow Greenwood Architects, and the first thing you see is a well stocked kitchen. The first thing you smell could be ribs, chicken parmigiana, or grilled shrimp. And right under your quivering nose is a dining area furnished with assorted vintage chairs, some bona fide Edward Wormley and others knock off Michael Thonet complete with original upholstery. There's even a working game of Donkey Kong.
Neither a restaurant nor a vintage-furniture store, Mad River is an editing house that serves advertising agencies along with the occasional producer of music videos, documentaries, and feature films. So why is its centerpiece a kitchen equipped with hanging pots and pans, a gourmet range, a deli-style double refrigerator, under-counter wine storage, a beer tap, a professional chef and sous chef, and seductive aromas? Furthermore, why should this setup occupy about a third of the New York office's 6,250 square feet when both Chinatown and Little Italy are steps away?
Well, in an era when "anyone can edit on their laptop," as architect Michael Kostow puts it, a postproduction outfit has to be able to attract the most talented staff, then inundate clients with services. Those clients often come in to work with staffers for 10 hours a day, weeks at a time, and fresh delicious meals can help keep energy and enthusiasm high. The cosseting isn't confined to food, either. Each editing suite contains comfortable, almost comfy seating—from which clients can watch on a flat-screen monitor what the editor is doing across the room. (They can then discuss, ignore, or just hang out.)
The vintage furniture, including Herman Miller desks collected by Mad River founder Michael Elliot, came from the company's former office. So did century-old doors now mounted in starkly simple frames of polyurethaned MDF. This recycling and re-recycling contributes to the rough-and-ready downtown flavor.
Elliot and Kostow settled for the oak floor boards that came free with the place. Exposed pipes, conduits, and cables saved on the cost of a dropped ceiling. Transparent plastic panels, again from the previous office, camouflage maple-veneered kitchen cabinets. Each of the panels was cleaned, trimmed, and attached with exposed stainless-steel grommet-and-screw fasteners, creating cabinet faces that are easily maintained and almost indestructible.
The old, weathered barn siding on the walls not only cuts down on maintenance costs but also plays neatly into the aesthetic of necessity. Kostow left seemingly random gaps between the boards—the result appears to be evolving and devolving at the same time. Closer inspection reveals that the bare spots are unpainted, unfinished, raw-seamed drywall. Some even bear vestiges of the contractor's penciled scribblings.