Loft IdealsAuthor:Abigail Stone
Interior designer Vanessa Alexander gives this office dual purpose and maximum style
Picture a loft and the image that springs to mind is invariably spare. In the hands of interior designer Vanessa Alexander of Alexander Design, that vision was upended in this sprawling office she was asked to create for a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist. Its soothing palette and tactile materials, unexpected in a corporate setting, imbue the space with a warmth that underscores the client’s innovative and creative spirit.
“It was super cool and industrial with cinder block walls and lots of concrete,” says Alexander, “but they wanted something different that felt luxurious and dynamic and where everyone would feel inspired and comfortable.” To meet the business’ varying needs, the space would have to be flexible and function as a high- energy office equipped with quiet areas for meetings, conferences and individual projects while also being able to transform into an art salon, a yoga studio or the setting for a charity function. “I loved the challenge of taking what is innately a casual, creative space in a loft environment and figuring out a way to infuse it with high luxury,” says Alexander.
A large bronze door suggests that something unusual will be found within. That impression is immediately confirmed by an imposing central structural column. Covered in a reflective skin of hand-patina bronze, it explodes toward the ceiling, now reimagined in white oak. Venetian plaster walls and skim-coated floors further siphon the industrial vernacular of the building’s origins into an elegant backdrop.
“We wanted to keep it warm,” says Alexander. “My interiors tend to be more tonal, and I use color in a low-key way so art really has a prominent place to shine.” Here, that meant a range of brown tones, in shades ranging from espresso to camel, deep golden to cognac. In lieu of color, textures—suede, mohair, velvets, gold, bronze and wood—are used to layer the rooms with an inviting softness and blur the 5,000-square-foot structure’s naturally hard edges. Black accents found in a linear blackened steel railing, a Blackman Cruz three-squared Monumental Chandelier and a collection of vintage and custom leather armchairs balance the sensuality of the rooms and keep the focus on the bold and colorful collection of modern art.
Opening the second floor to the first invites the exchange of ideas. “They wanted a very high-end environment that functioned in an informal way,” says Alexander. Traditional office bays were abandoned in favor of flexible spaces, which encourage employees to find their own work style. Custom pieces—designed by Alexander and created by the cadre of artisans she works with—dominate throughout.
The entryway is grounded by a long communal walnut worktable. Nearly two dozen feet long, it can be broken apart as needed. Concealed wheels and hidden cords amplify its versatility. Nearby, another area, styled as a living room, tops a rug from Woven Accents with a quartet of bespoke pieces: a couch covered in Loro Piana velvet, black leather armchairs with wooden bases and a wooden coffee table.
Vintage finds, including Marco Zanuso’s Regent armchairs covered in pale camel suede and a pair of Vico Magistretti table lamps, add patina. Custom pivot doors reveal a sectional covered in a Great Plains gray velvet and a custom leather and brass table in one room; another set opens onto an imposing brass and soapstone conference table; a game room showcases a ping-pong table; and an office is made intimate via a plush rug from Woven Accents and white oak shelving.
“It’s masculine but also comfortable and nurturing to creativity and dialogue,” says Alexander, “You’re not going to walk into this space and say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen that before.’” Upending expectation? In Alexander’s hands, it’s a good thing.