Creating a workplace for a female-founded hedge fund company, designer Christina Loucks adopts a minimal, residential aesthetic that pushes back on Wall Street stereotypes.
By Rachel Gallaher
Images by Nicole Franzen
Interior designer Christina Loucks commissioned a custom wooden room divider for this office in New York's Flatiron District. The existing oak floors and brick walls informed the neutral color palette.
While many designers talk about having a “ground-up” approach to their projects, for New York interior designer Christina Loucks, it was the ground (well, the floor) of a pre-war building that sparked the inspiration for a recently completed Scandinavian-inspired office. Hired by a female-founded hedge fund to design a workplace that had a “residential, inviting, high-end feel,” Loucks transformed the space into a functional, flexible, open unit with office spaces, a conference room, floating work zones, and a reception area.
“It was an open canvas with all the commercial lighting in place, lovely wide-plank oak floors, and glass wall partitions for the offices and conference room,” Loucks explains. “I was inspired to take an [aesthetically Scandinavian] direction by the oak floors and the desire to make a seamless flow through the space. I love how in Nordic design the focus is on the natural elements, with seamless wooden walls, ceilings, and floors highlighting the grain of the wood as beautiful, natural artistry.”
A Noguchi light hangs over the table in the conference area.
Aside from oak floors and existing glass partitions, the office had tall ceilings, exposed ductwork, and brick walls, all of which add an industrial (but not gritty) vibe. There is an effortless flow between working and gathering areas, each of which is distinguished with furniture groupings. For productivity purposes, the clients wanted a divide between the reception and trading desks, but they didn’t want to block any of the natural light from the windows. Loucks’ solution was a custom wooden room divider with a bookshelf and built-in storage at the base. “We played with the legs to make them different and shapely like a piece of art,” she says. “We also created hidden storage facing the open desk area, adjusted the wood finish just right, shaped the shelves and edges just so. Those details make all the difference in how a space can look and feel. “
Additional custom pieces include desks, while sourced furniture and accessories are a mix from the Future Perfect, Massimo, H&M Home, Skagerak, and more.
“We tried to connect with femininity by using curves and soft edges, and a palette that is not harsh but that compliments and embraces the wood and brick,” Loucks says. “We liked the warmth of the wood, the brick tones, and the minimalism of the white walls and natural light.”
Loucks chose furniture and décor items with curves and employed a neutral palette to soften the space.
The neutral palette is made interesting through texture and materiality. While Loucks and the clients loved the existing brick, it tends to be a bold, overpowering look. To remedy this, the designer layered fabric-upholstered pieces in shades of beige, cream, and gray. Area rugs and light-toned wood chairs and tables bring a layer of warmth, and, as Loucks explains, “curved shapes create some nice organic movement as your eye moves through the space, eliminating any visual stops or starts. Because it is so open, we did need to segment the spaces but didn’t want it to cause any stopping points that felt unnatural for the eye, so there are similar palettes pulled through. For the millwork, we chose a white oak finish like the floors so that it all flows seamlessly and lets the tones, curves, and graining be the focus.”
Done up more like a chic European apartment or trendy high-end boutique, this office eschews the dark and masculine or no-frills aesthetics traditionally found in spaces throughout the financial sector. It’s so sophisticated and serene, we wouldn’t be surprised if employees spent a little extra time at their desks before heading home after work.