Lee/Wimpenny Design transforms an ordinary corporate space into a modern furniture gallery.
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 10/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
"We've been collecting 20th-century furniture for years, and we've been encouraging our clients to do it too," says Nan Lee, principal of Lee/Wimpenny Design, elaborating on how this investment banking office got furnished with some of the world's most sought-after pieces. The client, a well-educated and conservative business owner, was surprisingly receptive to new ideas in office design, and so began a collecting process, through Lee's curatorship, of rare modernist furniture.
But before outfitting the 6,500-sq.-ft., 33rd-floor space with such exquisite furnishings, Lee/Wimpenny faced the problem of a dull, corporate environment riddled with cubicles and walls (concealing plumbing) that blocked breathtaking views. The firm opened up the space, first by clearing away the labyrinthine office units, and then by breaking up the entrance area wall into three staggered layers. Brazilian cherry covers the floors to give the space more of a gallery/residential feel.
Furnishings for different sections were organized by period. "Every single piece has a story," explains Lee. "A table we used was made in oak by its designer because it was the only wood available to him during the war." A Max Ingrand steel desk anchors the 1960s-themed reception area, beneath '60s-inspired custom "flying saucer" light fixtures. The 1940-50s gallery conference area features two Jean Prouvé porthole doors to afford the office manager's space beyond them some privacy and openness at the same time. The president's office received a 1930s treatment while a second conference area was styled in a '50s manner. After a successful job in creating this exhibition-like modern furniture office space, the firm was awarded the design of the client's home.