A Tour de Force of Design for R&A Cycles Headquarters
Sean Carlson Perry creates a high-octane Brooklyn headquarters for this boutique bicycle brand.
Photos by Nick Glimenakis.
Not all things on two wheels are created equal. So the regular greasy-wheeled bike setup wouldn’t do for R&A Cycles, the largest high-end racing bicycle retailer in the States. Each one of their bicycles are highly customized for your body—think top-of-the-line, competitive-level speedsters for the most elite riders.
As these aren’t your regular roadsters, the space needed to be as highly customized as the bikes themselves. Thankfully, Sean Carlson Perry quickly got up to speed to design the 15,500-square-foot, Brooklyn-based R&A Headquarters, which houses the R&A Black experience.
“The function of this location marries several different needs—it’s an order fulfillment center, corporate headquarters, and a place to offer a VIP shopping experience to their clients,” Sean explains.
That meant balancing hotel-like amenities (private bathrooms for showering post-hour-long bike tryouts) with the needs of a bustling workshop and corporate office. To embrace the blending of many functions, Sean experimented in melding rough textures with vibrant accents.
“This design is a full exploration of materiality and color and how to weave that in a way that made this space pop in certain areas,” Sean opines. “It was about marrying a higher-end experience with a sporty, techy vibe. The goal was to create a refined adult funhouse that checked all of the boxes in a refined, sport-tuned manner. ”
The space itself wasn’t exactly athletic at the start, so Sean had his work cut out for him.
“I wanted to encompass some of the rawness of the space while also bringing in some refinement—it was nothing but a concrete shell.” Sean says. “The outside is very unassuming, you wouldn’t really know what’s going on on the inside.”
The industrial exterior helps VIP clients sneak in undetected, but through the doors they’re greeted with a palette inspired by their chosen pastime—zippy reds, lush greens inspired by the terrain, and hints of yellow for that iconic, must-lusted-after jersey. A mezzanine featuring a double-height living wall, a multi-screen feature, and a neon logo that Sean himself designed create a stunning entrance, while leaving plenty of space for the the warehouse and upstairs office.
Since it’s not a sedentary brand, Sean didn’t want to give them the typical office setup. The goal was function—and movement.
“I wanted to create a flexible workspace, so that people had the ability to change body positions throughout the day,” Sean says. “You can really be a chameleon in this space.”
The entire space can be flipped quickly to host events—it’s fully wired with top-of-the-line equipment to accommodate DJs and anything else the founders think up. Furniture (and even tech) offers versatility—work tables on the ground floor are on casters, employees can take their laptops over to a series of lounge spaces or the stunning, suspended glass conference room that serves as a multi-purpose meeting space.
The cube speaks to the volumetric way Sean approached the entire project.
“I thought about how the programmatic volumes could be stacked and placed in the headquarters,” Sean explains. “We wrapped the top and the bottom of the conference cube with a black metal finish that creates a ribbon around that space. It feels very athletic.”
That dimensionality is highlighted in many features—even the lighted logo in the entrance isn’t flat.
“I designed the 3D iteration of the R&A logo to fit in the space and now it’s their 3D standard going forward,” Sean says.
Its arresting shade of red adds to the push-pull of the space’s varied shades and textures.
“I tried to balance the cool and warm and organic,” Sean explains. “The industrial concrete with the living wall and then these uber modern elements.”
That modernism comes through in brightly hued accents. Red is echoed throughout the space, while the yellow of the Coalesse SW1 chairs is no accident—they are the exact branded hue of the Tour de France, a subtle nod to the space’s function.
Missing no chance to make the space as thoughtful as possible, the individual offices feature customized workspaces designed by Sean. And he made sure each employee had exactly what they needed.
“There’s a hidden refrigerator in each private office,” Sean shares. “Everything is really considered.”
But the project didn’t quite turn Sean into a master cyclist.
“I always joke—I don’t trust myself to bike in NYC,” Sean laughs. “I’m a thinker. I don’t trust myself to not be in deep thought and ride out in front of a bus or something.”