Cut From the Same Cloth
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
A corner location, smack in the middle of the Los Angeles design district. Plus rooftop parking. That's what drew Maharam here. But that's where the assets ended. The 4,000-square-foot 1960's building boasted such dubious distinctions as a fake mansard roof and an oeil-de-boeuf window. Fernlund + Logan Architects, which had completed 10 showrooms for the fabric company already, had to build in every bit of mid-century flair.
"Fernlund + Logan challenges us to think about our strategy—how we work and how we present ourselves," principal Michael Maharam says. "There's always easy access to samples, good light, and not too much product shown."
The first thing that approaching drivers see is a billboard showing an abstract version of the storefront. Right below is the real thing, with its new skin of corrugated galvanized steel. "The metal makes reference to early Frank Gehry or Le Corbusier's Deux Chevaux for Citroën," principal Neil Logan explains. Then he and partner Solveig Fernlund punched up the basic box with nine windows. The biggest, built out 5 feet in a steel box, measures 8 by 12 feet, including the glass front door.
Visible through one of the smaller windows, the regional sales director's office is furnished with a variation on pieces used at Maharam showrooms nationwide. Charles and Ray Eames chairs in cherry-red wool, a Superstudio table in gridded white plastic laminate, and Donald Judd prints keep the mood modern. That private office is the exception, however: The architects left almost everything else open.
Running along the front window wall, dark gray felt rugs anchor a row of workstations: birch-plywood units with plastic-laminate desktops and felt-clad dividers. At the center of the space stand a pair of Douglas fir tables and an assortment of colorful saddle-seat stools by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, all to encourage browsing through samples.
That's the way business is done. No racks, no wings. Only a double bar of stainless steel to display patterns by Hella Jongerius, Maira Kalman, and Koloman Moser.