With a presence in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis, Allsteel and Gunlocke dealer Henricksen recently set its sights on the New York market. After spotting and leasing 4,000 square feet of office space in a historic building in Manhattan’s Fashion District, Henricksen partnered with design firm NBBJ to transform it into a well-tailored office and showroom. We chatted with Alan Grandis, general manager, and Ashley Hajduk, designer, both of Henricksen, along with Associate Architect Hannah Robertson of NBBJ New York to learn how it all came together.
Interiors & Sources: Tell us about the project in general—what did the design team set out to accomplish?
Hannah Robertson: Because this was a new office on the East Coast—all of their other offices are throughout the Midwest—we wanted to establish their New York identity. It was also really important that the space be flexible, because it was going to be their office space for 10 to 12 employees, but it also needed to serve the dual purpose of being a showroom and have the capacity to host small social events.
The building was built in the early 1900s. When we came into the space, it was gutted and raw, and we knew we wanted to keep that sort of expression of the architecture so that its character really fit with the neighborhood. The views are so spectacular in that area and since it’s on the 16th floor, they’re high above the surrounding buildings, so you look out into a late 19th-century cityscape.
Ashley Hajduk: We also made sure that the most prevalent manufacturers were present in our design, so that when we bring clients here, we can say, “We have all of their products.”
Alan Grandis: And also to show them something they might not see in the manufacturer showrooms. We try to complement what they have. Allsteel is our major line when it comes to seating and office furniture systems, but Allsteel is part of the HNI group of companies—so we also have Gunlocke, HBF, Paoli, along with plenty of others. We represent probably 200 manufacturers.
IS: What design choices did you make in the new space to distinguish the New York showroom from Henricksen’s other locations around the country?
HR: Our goal was to keep the architecture as minimal and sparse as possible, so that we could make bold statements with the furniture selection and systems. As a result, we kept the space raw, and painted the ceiling and walls white. We went with high contrast for the rest of the materials, so our conference table, floors, and cabinetry all used dark-stained wood. We felt that the juxtaposition of color would really frame not only the views of the city but also the pieces of furniture that we selected. We focused primarily on cool colors—green and blue, and a few other accents. Within the office in the conference room, we have a very bright lime green, and those two colors are also found in the fabrics that we selected to go with various pieces of lounge furniture.
Because we wanted to have very clean lines throughout, we felt that the only pattern that we wanted to do was something that was linear and rhythmic, so we have carpeting beneath the workstations, and a repeat of that articulated linear pattern in the carpeting for the office and conference room.
IS: How do the products and materials specified in the showroom speak to the New York location and market?
AH: When you’re in the city, it’s a small footprint for a workstation—everyone’s tight and squeezed in. We’ve tried to replicate that. We also used a lot of bright colors, which we’re finding is a trend right now—a lot of bright, intense hues—so we’ve tried to stick with that.
AG: Real estate in New York is not just tight but also expensive, so the benching trend is very prevalent here, but there’s also the kind of totally open, collaborative workspaces with areas to meet more informally. We have both of those here.