before & after: the workspace your cubicle dreams about
Published Sep 29, 2015 5:00 AM
Michael Aiduss, Principal of Michael Aiduss Interior Design, created a workspace so stunning it seems ludicrous to call it an “office”. Marked by signature style and bespoke design, the space not only serves to give clients confidence (and inspiration!) but we can only imagine how lovely it is to work here. We spoke with Aiduss to learn more about the process of creating his space, and why he and his team love working there.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THIS OFFICE SPACE? I started the firm, Michael Aiduss Interior Design in 2010, working out of the house with my husband Joe, who is also my business partner.
WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS SPACE INITIALLY? The business grew quickly and during the first year we grew to a total of 12 employees. I had been searching for the perfect office space both out of wanting a proper office but also to maintain sanity from having a full house of people everyday. With a dedicated staff, many stayed late into the evening and so we really never had privacy. Finding the perfect space proved to be a challenge. I had my eyes on a Gothic style building from the 1920’s, complete with two fireplaces. Just before signing the lease, a passing nor’easter came upon us and we soon realized the space also came with a leaky roof and windows that inadvertently made all of the ornamental plaster waterlogged. I was back to square one. Out of desperation, I reached out to a friend who rehabilitates old properties and inquired about a temporary space. We looked at a few options, even considering one as a permanent location. Then it happened. I saw the site plan of a derelict old building that would soon be the location of our new office. Once a lacrosse netting factory, the empty shell provided the perfect setting to design an office from scratch.
I am obsessed with flow, function and alignment. I was determined to create an environment that worked from all angles. There are three horizontal access points running through the office making the individual rooms easily accessible. This works wonderfully not only for staff but also during events. I loved the raw industrial feeling of the existing shell, however it needed to feel more luxe and relate more to what we do as a design firm. I colored the original concrete floors a dark gray and had them polished to a deep luster. I love playing with scale, so to emphasize the ceiling height I installed baseboards that are twenty-four inches high. The baseboards align with bronze kick plates installed on the ten-foot high doors. Taking note of the original black steel windows, I incorporated them into the design of the office, adding light to internal spaces.
I love the use of dark and light to differentiate areas. I created knuckles between spaces and painted them black for a very dramatic effect. The studio space and entry are painted Benjamin Moore’s “Simply White”. It is the perfect color white that is soft but not yellow in tone, making it an excellent choice to look at materials against. The conference room/ library is a rich cocoon painted a deep charcoal gray. Long drapes in camel wool add softness, allowing the space to be quiet. The conference table is a favorite piece that I discovered before I found the space. It is an extension dining table that folds up into a console table. It is from Philadelphia, circa 1810. Its two massive leaves were missing so we re-created them in contrast using charcoal lacquer panels wrapped with a bronze edge around each side. Now the table feels modern.
A wall of bookcases in the conference room has a door in the center that leads you to the sample library. This room is particularly fun. Washed heavy canvas hangs from the seventeen-foot high ceiling on three walks and is installed on sliding tracks. The canvas hides shelving that is behind the curtain that houses fabric, wallpaper, carpet, stone, wood, and tile samples. The beauty is that during a meeting all of the samples are handy and close by. The room is magical when converted for parties.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GENERAL REACTION TO THIS REDESIGN FROM YOUR TEAM? A common statement overheard by staff and visitors is that they want to “move-in” to the office–that it would make a really amazing and stylish house.
WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO READERS CURRENTLY PLANNING THEIR OWN WORKSPACE, PERHAPS IN A HOME OFFICE? My advice to a fellow designer in creating their own space would be the following:
- We are in the business of creating beauty. Surround yourself in a beautiful environment- even if it is one room or corner in our house. Create a signature look for yourself.
- Figure out how you work best and organize your office so that it makes it easy to prepare meetings as well as clean up after. Remember, you must have a place for everything. If not your office will be a mess.
- Impress your clients. Keep your office looking fresh. Have pin-up areas updated and a smart group of new finds casually styled on a table. You never know who is walking in the door.