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Based on the idea that design is a way of looking at the world with an eye for changing it, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) presents Design for Social Impact, an original exhibition offering a look at how designers, engineers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs use design to solve the problems of the 21st century. 

 

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Thursday
Nov142013

WEB EXTRA: Workbook: The Softer Side of Finance

For the offices of Lek Securities, Huntsman Architectural Group drew from residential and hospitality design. Photograph by Paul Warchol Photography/courtesy Huntsman Architectural Group.Workplace design is changing. It’s a given. We see it most of all in creative office environments. Places where a premium is placed on collaboration and connection. But what about office space form more traditional fields, say finance?

Alan Vartabedian, a principal at Huntsman Architectural Group, offers one take, in the design for Lek Securities’ Manhattan office. “It adheres to tradition in the sense that the expected formalities are there,” Vartabedian explains. A reception area, conference rooms—the usual suspects appear. The departure comes in the inspiration. Vartabedian looked to the worlds of residential and hospitality design to create inviting spaces that tempered the intensity of the business at hand with a more relaxed vibe. 

Entering the suite, the set-up instantly signals more luxe hotel lobby than corporate temple. The creamy leather couch wraps around a sculptural custom coffee table; other furnishings combine textures in thoughtful ways. The overall experience is more freeform and less prescribed than in a typical reception setting. Add to this, a wall lit by LEDs, which “slowly changes color every few minutes,” says Varabedian. “It gives it a little bit of a nightclub-esque feel—something playful and out of the norm.” In the space, the reception desk itself is minimal and unobtrusive.

In the kitchen area, too, the space doesn’t seem like a typical corporate break room. Instead it evokes a home kitchen, complete with a center island. During lunch, which is brought in every day, “it’s very engaging—not just a place to grab a cup of coffee,” notes Vartabedian. Artwork from the client’s personal collection hangs on the walls, as it does throughout the office.

Softer touches abound. Rather than the typical task chairs, chairs more at home in a dining room appear in the conference rooms. To add a layer of privacy in glass-walled offices, diaphanous curtains hang. They’re lit from above by LED strips, which animate them, as does the flow from the air-conditioner.

The offices are the third Huntsman Architectural Group has designed for the client, says Vartabedian, “but never to this level. The previous offices were nice, but this one became and speaks to his design interests.”

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