TRAVERTINE MARBLE TRADITIONALLY communicates prosperity, gravitas, and a somewhat alienating formality. In the expansive lobby of a Brazilian investment firm, however, architect Kiko Salomao left the travertine walls, floor, and reception desk in a creamy, unpolished state, lending a surprising warmth and earthiness to the material’s starched-and-pressed mien. This treatment mirrors the architect’s overarching strategy: loosening up the cool orthogonality of the International Style to strike a professional–but not stuffy–note. Modernism need not be cold and austere, says Salomao: “It can actually be cozy and chic.”
The minimal-rich look dovetailed with the sensibility of his thirty-something client, who had launched a boutique firm after selling an Internet company located in the very same Sao Paulo building.
“He comes from a traditional family and tends to favor a classic look,” explains Salomao. But the architect, who’d masterminded the young entrepreneur’s previous office, argued for a slightly swankier vibe.
After gutting the new, 7,500-square-foot full-floor space–ripping out floors, subfloors, and ceiling and upgrading plumbing and wiring–the architect sketched out a flexible layout that would ease growing pains and accommodate fluctuations in population as client companies utilized short-term space. (Employee numbers rose from six to 20 over the course of the five-month renovation.) Salomao thus delivered three offices in one. Each of two self-contained wings comprises workstations, a private office, and a conference room. The third zone, the president’s suite, houses a corner office, a lounge, and an 18-seat boardroom, all connected by pivot doors. “He needs a huge space for pitching business plans,” says Salomao.
Although the three areas can function separately, a unifying aesthetic allows them to read as one. Neutral tones and a restrained materials palette of marble and mocha-hued Brazilian pau ferro predominate. So does an emphasis on symmetry.
“The lines throughout are very straight. I tend not to use curves in my work,” says Salomao. Save for the lobby, softened by Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chairs and illuminated circular cutouts in the ceiling, the office is a subtle paean to the grid. In the boardroom, an enormous, 13-by-15-foot unpolished marble tabletop appears to float on its aluminum pedestal base. “The office is unheated, and marble can become very cold,” says Salomao. “I used a matte finish to make it warm to the touch.” Above hangs a custom Alucobond fixture that incorporates both direct downward lighting and indirect up-lights, all adjustable for a range of effects. The unit protrudes from a 2-foot-deep niche, one of several instances where Salomao took advantage of low ceilings to create variations on the grid theme. The lounge’s track lighting, to cite another example, is arranged in concentric rectilinear troughs.
Work by Brazilian artists–including Vik Muniz and Victor Brecheret pieces from the client’s own collection–adorns spaces furnished with a mix of vintage finds and clean-lined Salomao designs. Of particular note is the president’s desk, inspired by one that the architect saw in an Italian magazine many years ago and recreated from memory. “It’s very `50s, very squared-off, with a metal base and an angled wood top,” he says. He also designed the long, low credenzas in the president’s office, internal conference rooms, and lounge. A true sign of the office’s informal character, the lounge credenza’s top flips up to reveal a minibar, at the ready to celebrate a successful pitch.
The property itself posed historical challenges, too. Because it had once been part of the venerable Livingston family’s holdings, Berry originally had a contemporary interpretation of an archetypal Hudson River villa in the back of her mind. “How to design a house on the Hudson when you have all these intimidating, varied, and, eclectic traditions to contend with?” she asked herself.
But with an architecture degree from the Cooper Union and course work at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies on her resume, she was well equipped to draw on a knowledge of architectural history and a personal predilection for modernism. “I decided on modernism but in a vocabulary that would be substantial and allow the house to blend into the landscape. Personally, I couldn’t do anything too crazy–I’m really a traditionalist,” says Berry.
Dauphin: Ergonomic task chairs aren’t the only seating options that can benefit from netted backing. The Turkey Trot lounge and visitor chair, featuring a netted backrest, will surely add a little spring to your seat. 300 Myrtle Avenue, Boonton, NJ 07005; 800-995-6500; dauphin.com. circle 348
HBF: Barbara Barry’s Hourglass tables emphasize form as well as function. The pieces feature a curvaceous base of steel filaments and tops made from maple veneer, acrylic, or tempered glass. P.O. Box 8, Hickory, NC 28603; 828-328-2064; hbf.com. circle 349
Design Link: Thinner is definitely better with the Chip chair, featuring a super-slim plywood seat and back. Inspired by clean-lined Scandinavian design, the light and durable Chip is also stackable. 25 Kingston Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111; 800-568-2585; deslink.com. circle 350
Martin Brattrud: Gensler’s Terry Walker and Collin Burry devised the One collection, consisting of chaise (shown), chairs, sofas, glider, ottoman, benches, and tables. Bases are polished chrome, platforms wood or steel. 1224 West 132nd Street, Gardena, CA 90247; 323-770-4171; martinbrattrud.com. circle 351
System 100 is the thinnest demountable commercial wall system available in the United States. Inspired by European design, System 100 now surpasses it. Acme Architectural Walls developed the all steel constructed System 100 to the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship resulting in maximum aesthetics and in a minimal profile wall that can be relocated effortlessly. System 100 meets all US building code requirements, is manufactured here in the U.S.A. and can be fabricated within normal industry lead times. Call to receive our brochure on System 100 and our other innovative products.
Tobias Grau: Sophie’s, a height-adjustable suspension lamp, is distinguished by a mix of wenge and porcelain–and bold hardware. Plug Lighting, 8017 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046; 323-653-5635; pluglighting.com
Raul Carrasco: The Cliff console exhibits the elegantly fluid character of calligraphy. Shown in solid walnut. 74 NE 40th Street, Miami, FL 33137; 305-573-7889.
Casa Domani: These leather tiles with faux whip-stitching make an incredibly handsome wall cladding or floor covering, acquiring a rich patina with wear. Artistic Tile, 79 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003; 800-260-8646; artistictile.com.
Leef: Stylishly divide and conquer the open-plan office with these colorful and curvaceous privacy screens. Available as freestanding modular units and desk-mounted ones. 63 Medulla Avenue, Toronto, Ontario MSZ 5L6, Canada; 416-236-5353; leef.ca.
Lolah: Representing different braille symbols, Dennis Lin’s cast-polymer tiles toy with text and texture. 2265 Royal Windsor Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5J 1K5, Canada; 800-909-8233; lolah.com.
Walker Zanger: Glinting and glamorous, Metallisimo stainless-steel tiles are a sterling choice for modern kitchens and bathrooms. 37 East 20th Street, New York, NY 10003; 212-844-3000; walkerzanger.com.
Joel Berman Glass Studios: This company’s newest kiln-cast glass panels dazzle with dimensionality. Arrigado ripples like a windswept lake. 1-1244 Cartwright Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3R8, Canada; 888-505-4527; jbermanglass.com.
Anzea: Eco-conscious designers gravitate to Getting Green, an extensive line of environmentally sensitive–and sophisticated–textiles. Some selections are rendered in Climatex Lifecycle fibers. 2810 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, TX 76107; 817-336-2310; anzea.com.
Montis: The Malou sofa, designed by Gijs Papavoine, has a pleasantly cartoonish quality. With a rounded silhouette in playful colors, it’s very comfortable and easy to love. M2L, 215 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022; 212-832-8222; m2lcollection. com.
Collaborative. Ordinary walnut, maple, and cherry veneers become extraordinary when suspended in transparent cast rubber. 140 East 17th Street, New York, NY 10003; 212-260-9475; collaborativeny.com.
Kohler: Refined readers recognized the Purist Suite sink because it’s the ultimate in pristine design. We noticed that, too. The kid in us also likes how this wet-surface lavatory set gives us license to leave the water running. 444 Highland Drive, Kohler, WI 53044; 800-456-4537; kohler.com.
Rolf Benz: With hypnotically concentric circles and soft, hand-tufted virgin wool, Circolo is a real dazzler. Available in six colors and 11 standard sizes. Shoomine, 8 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116; 617-227-2021; shoomine.com.
Red Plum Jam: The husband-wife team of Alex Schaub and B. Jane produces finely crafted pieces that celebrate the beauty of materials, from African mahogany to MDF. 512-442-6824; redplumjam.com.
De Sede: For multitasking mods, the DS-152 lounger by Jane Worthington is a must-have. The chair’s metal frame can accommodate a glass tabletop and a flat-screen monitor. 2001 West Main Street, Suite 157, Stamford, CT 06902; 203-353-8114; desede.com.
Modenature: Luxuriously low Louise is just the recliner chair for lounging around. It would look equally at home in residential or hospitality settings, Interieurs, 149-151 Franklin Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-343-0800.
Michaelian & Kolhberg: Designers looking for a little fun underfoot found it in a collection of striped flat-weaves in hand-spun wool. 578 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012; 212-431-9009; michaelian.com.
Marimekko: Unabashedly retro, Maija Isola’s Albatrossi, a 1965 pattern, has been reissued, Made of 100 percent cotton and available in three colorways. Textile Arts; 888-343-7285; txtlart.com.
Emily McLennan: With ethereal organdy shapes and steel supports, the Liteweights collection’s lamps strike a delicate balance between hard and soft. 701 North Third Street, Suite 101, Minneapolis, MN 55401; 612-339-7746; [email protected]
Molteni & C: Designed by Patricia Urquiola for the 2002 Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the upholstered Clip bed is built for comfort. The headboard shifts into multiple positions. Format, 50 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-941-7995.
Fantini: What a profile! It’s no surprise that minimalists embrace the simply elegant Cafe kitchen faucet. Hastings Tile & II Bagno Collection, 30 Commercial Street, Freeport, NY 11520; 800-351-0038.
Agape. The sleekness of Benedini Associati’s Woodline sink, available in natural oak or wenge-stained finish, helps to up the prestige of plywood. Moss, 146 Green Street, New York, NY 10012; 866-888-6677, mossonline.com.
Tracy Kendall Wallpaper: Elevating wastepaper to a whole new level, In the White Room is made from individually hand-stitched scraps. It’s just one of many bespoke wall coverings from this British designer. 116 Greyhound Lane, Streatham Common, London SW16 5RN, U.K.; 44-20-7640-9071; tracykendall.com.
“I love the nuts-and-bolts-ness of this floor lamp. The assembly is very straightforward, but the proportion is beautiful,” declares David Ling. According to the New York architect, this icon “could act as a contrast in tall residential spaces. It’s so sculptural, it’s sure to make a strong impression.”
Sealy: The company’s contract division includes the recently redesigned Posturpedic collection with warranted Everlast fabric handles. Sealy, One Office Parkway, Trinity, NC 27370.
Dormire: Raso linens, with off-white piping in 100 percent Egyptian cotton, include a series of standard colors (white, ivory, ochre, melon, scarlet, periwinkle, sky blue, forest, and moss) as well as custom colorations.
Available in twin, full, queen, and king size sets with fitted and flat sheets and two pillowcases. Dormire, 1345 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Justice Design: The 7020 MAT GGGV ovalesque single arm lamp, shown in matte white glass with a vianne grass green uplight shade, is part of the Euro Classic line. Justice Design Group, 11244 Playa Court, Culver City, CA 90230.
Rejuvenation: Scholls Ferry, a reproduction three-light billiard room fixture, has a polished nickel finish (11 variations are available) and is offered in a 48- or 56-in. width. Rejuvenation, 2550 Northwest Nicolai Street, Portland, OR 97210.