In The Eye Of The Beholder
Edgy motion-graphics studio EyeballNYC has a grown-up new look—an interior by Hyejin
Kelly Beamon -- Interior Design, 5/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Like an old black-and-white compared to a flat-screen, the original office of EyeballNYC was just. . .junky. It couldn't be helped, what with 18 full-time designers and seven freelancers, plus production, finance, and IT, all trying to keep up with requests for the production studio's 3-D motion graphics for 15- and 30-second commercials. The office was already cramped before owner Limore Shur started expanding his client list to include American Express, Best Buy, Comedy Central, and Target.
Each additional project nudged more desks into the hallways, more employees into shared offices, and more books onto the library's overflowing shelves. "We grew so fast that people were on top of each other. It became a space for the company we used to be," Shur says. In summer, the heat from so many bodies and computers pushed the air-conditioning system to the brink.
At home, Shur vented his frustrations to his girlfriend, Hyejin Hwang, a former clothing designer who had recently left women's sportswear to set up an experimental interiors firm, Hyejin. Her first project involved transforming a commercial loft into a Moorish-themed temporary "hotel room" called the Chocolate Secret Suite. After that, Hwang was ready for her first major job.
Having worked at EyeballNYC a few times herself, contributing promotional illustrations for MTV's Free Ride contest, she was certain that she understood the company's needs: a real library, storage for recording and photography equipment, private offices for Shur and associate creative director Julian Bevan, and—most important—room to think. All of this became possible when Shur seized a chance to annex the floor above, adding 2,000 square feet.
Hwang's proposal didn't make the clichéd assumption that the staff's tattoos and piercings signaled a preference for working amid Japanese plastic toys and loud music. Instead, she'd rely on the soothing tones of white oak, a natural backdrop against which Eyeball's young urban minds could roam free. Meanwhile, furniture by Jasper Morrison, Antonio Citterio, and Eero Saarinen would communicate that the company was growing up.
An open office area takes up most of the narrow floor plate. Neat rows of back-to-back workstations march down the side along the windows; this is headquarters for senior creatives, who develop each TV spot's layered 3-D foundation. Opposite, Hwang built a long oak-slab desk, divided into 15 carrels for the staff who add the color, detail, and eye-popping animation. In the center of the space, an oak island wired for laptops welcomes visitors. The island, communal desk, workstations, and flooring are all the same honeyed oak.
At the back of the office area is a lounge where everyone can preview finished spots on a flat-screen TV while seated on tailored sofas covered in wheat-colored linen. Employees can also prop up their feet on a sturdy steel-and-nickel end table and flip through the art books stored on the long oak shelves. At crunch time, when the lounge is commandeered to photograph the stills that underpin some of the animation, blackout shades pull down in front of the windows. (A tall roll-out cabinet holds audiovisual equipment.)
Photography of a very different kind brings an untamed natural energy into the work environment—Justine Kurland's large-format images of nude figures in the wilderness are mounted behind clear glass panels on the walls outside Shur and Bevan's private offices. In one image, a lone man mysteriously wields a sickle; in the other, a watchful German shepherd lends a note of protection or menace, depending on your perspective.
Another example of contemporary photography hangs against a green-painted wall in Shur's office. This image by Thirza Schaap captures a young boy standing against a dusky sky, the wind blowing through his blond curls and his eyes closed to the camera. An ironic choice, perhaps, for a company named Eyeball, but that may be precisely the point. Shur says the Schaap takes him to "places far away."
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