A Modern, Masculine Office
Sean Carlson Perry talks us through the process of designing a sleek, sophisticated New York City office for Elephant Venture Capital.Photos by Claire Esparros.
In the world of venture capital, it’s all about prediction. But sometimes even the savviest market seers can’t catch it all. And while Elephant Venture Capital is skilled in the world of predicting businesses’ highs and lows, they weren’t quite as quick to see their own impending need for more space.
A short three years after the company’s inception, the founders saw that their gorgeous and spacious Boston office wasn’t quite spacious enough for their flourishing business. They opted to expand to a New York City branch, with designer Sean Carlson Perry making sure this one was just as stylish.
In the spirit of the constant economic contradictions venture capitalists face, Sean chose to embrace juxtaposition in his interior design approach—residential and commercial, industrial and modern, classic and contemporary.
Since business could have the Elephant team working from dawn till dusk, the goal was to embody the spirit of a “resimercial” interior—an office-home hybrid that breeds maximum productivity in maximum comfort. To create that comfortable flow, Sean started with a gut-renovation.
“Prior to our redesign, the space was walled and blocked off—the space had actually been a salon,” Sean explains. “I wanted to open up the floor plan and put a spotlight on the original character by showing off its exposed brick. The client wanted an open space, but with some separation for lounge and work areas.”
With transparency, light, openness, and comfort in mind, Sean redesigned the space to include all the hallmarks of a fully operational and chic office: new bathrooms, a fresh pantry and kitchen, two airy conference rooms, additional lighting, refined and patched-up wooden floors, exposed brick, plenty of space for entertaining, and much more.
With the bones in place, Sean honed in on symmetry, texture, and color to imbue the space with a livable feeling. By including both natural and man made materials, he mirrored New York City’s reputation as the urban jungle.
“I love how the exposed brick turned out,” the designer shares. “In most cases, color and finish variation is achieved through materiality. We have hints of deep navy blue throughout paired with the different woods, leathers, bricks, stones, and plants to bring in naturally-occurring aspects. The dark wood flooring acts as a stage for these elements to sing.”
Sean believes that the “stage” ties the entire space together. With its tough, industrial feel, the flooring acts as a rich, manly backdrop for the rest of the design.
“The dark flooring acts as the bedrock for the space. Darker and natural colors and finishes feel quite robust,” says Sean. “Blackened metals, natural and dark woods, cool marbles and blues are also on the more masculine side. The red exposed brick brings in a warmth through color, while accents like the soft silk and wool rugs, textiles in luxe velvet, plants and unique accessories in a range of woods, metals, glass, and ceramics all finish off the space.”
Throughout the space dark balances light (those coal shaker cabinets in the kitchen, inky leather chairs). With the main pieces in place, Sean layers in plants and accessories. To him, those aren’t just finishing touches; instead, they act as visual points of interest and grab one’s attention by feeling natural in the landscape of the space.
“The accents we used were all about pulling in bits of interest and visually echoing the previously introduced colors,” Sean explains. “We achieved this through the bright, vibrant greens of our plants.”
In addition, he stated that for feature elements to be prominent, the design needed to balance out those hues with finishes that recede, like white walls.
“I believe that you must create contrast in order for featured elements have strength and presence,” shares the designer.
In the end, strategically-placed details focused on rich textures and deep colors combine to create an office space that holds to a tight aesthetic. The floor plan mirrors designated functional areas across its axis, creating a space conducive to continuity and creativity. For Sean that zen approach was paramount, except of course when he needed to break the rules.
“Symmetry in furniture and architecture creates hierarchy and stature,” describes the designer. “Bilateral symmetry creates order and adds a feature element—a starting point for your eye to begin traveling through the space. But just as we need balance in space, we need difference. Spaces that are perfectly balanced often feel removed or cold. By offsetting the symmetry with difference, we made the space feel cozier, more welcoming, and more livable.”