For Kinetic Records in New York, Ali Tayar deployed a wall-shelving system as innovative as the company's music
Henry Urbach -- Interior Design, 10/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Kinetic Records is a leader in dance and rock music, the first company in the U.S. to work with Paul Oakenfold and the label currently representing Timo Maas, Sasha, and John Digweed, among others. Founded in 1996 by president Steve Lau, the company recently joined forces with the Bertelsmann Music Group and moved from small offices in midtown Manhattan to a 2,350-square-foot space in the Meatpacking District. "It's a part of town where our artists feel comfortable, someplace that's not too corporate," Lau explains. "And the area has sentimental value for me as well, because I used to go to great clubs like Mars around the corner."
Having first encountered Parallel Design Partnership principal Ali Tayar's display in the "Workspheres" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 2001, Lau approached the architect—whose studio happens to be across the street—and discovered a sensibility that was right for the project. "It was immediately clear that Ali understood how the simplest things can be effective," Lau recalls. "He didn't seem fazed by our modest budget, and he welcomed the challenge to find innovative and cost-effective solutions."
The program called for a reception area, 12 workstations, a conference area to accommodate 20 people, and two private offices. To organize the space, Tayar marked off the private offices with an aluminum-and-glass storefront system that offers a reasonable degree of acoustic privacy while maintaining visual continuity and the passage of sunlight. An orange perforated-metal modular shelving system, the same one that Tayar showed at MoMA, defines semiprivate work spaces, provides ample storage, and lends the office a distinct and coherent visual identity.
Known as the Icon Work/Wall, the system consists of laser-cut sheet-metal boxes, 30 inches square and 8 1/2 inches deep. Stacked to create partitions, the boxes also hold files, CDs, small equipment, and personal effects. Perforations yield a decorative pattern as well as providing a route for electrical and computer cables. Attached to this system are plywood work surfaces supported at their far ends by standard filing cabinets. These act as outriggers, lending stability.
To complement the orange of the shelving system, Tayar left the walls and vaulted ceiling white and painted the cement floor a creamy café con leche. Illumination comes from simple track lighting; orange extension cords and clear vinyl tubes, hanging from the ceiling, distribute power and electronic data. Eames Aluminum Group seating mixes with a few mid-century pieces. In the reception area, a glass-topped MDF coffee table, Niloo's Cut-Out Table, was also designed by Tayar.