Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Living in the (Corporate) Material World


Between '72 and '73 4,835 of these things were produced, but there was also a one-off Sportabout made for Aldo Gucci's personal use.
 
The corporate workplace has always felt like a prison to me. High rise buildings with windows that are locked shut, no fresh air and lots of fluorescent lights that color everything in a blue haze. Although I have not be an avid fan of Mad Men (will catch up later on Netflix) the designs of the time were revolutionary. “Office design in the 1960s and 1970s actually became more humanistic, with greater concern for the ability of the individual worker to have some freedom in the design and specification of his or her work area,” state the authors of Designing Commercial Interiors. The term ‘ergonomic’ (user friendly) designs were de rigueur for the ‘70s office environment. The birth of sustainable building design became a mainstay as a result of the energy crises (remember those long lines to fill up at the gas tank?) The fun part was the introduction of experimental furniture, high-tech materials, and eye-popping colors that seemed to mirror the sign of the times. With the popularity of Mad Men, we’ve seen a comeback of those revolutionary days where the hippies clashed with the conservative straight laced old timers.

My first corporate job was as a rookie sales leasing agent for Olympic Tower, the most haute office building in Manhattan when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. I spent my days canvassing the world’s expensive offices, on foot, to invite them to move to an even more expensive office space. It was also the first commercial building on Fifth Avenue that had mixed zoning. The top 25 floors were condominiums, and the bottom were commercial offices and luxury brand retail. Suffice it to say that I saw some of the most outstanding office design in the world at that time.

Some notable residents, like Dr. Aldo Gucci and Jackie O, were gracing the lobby on occasion. Elegant, refined and timeless design are the tenets of fine living, especially if you live on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan. But great office designs were not as widespread at that time.

Check out the rest here: