Tricks of the Trade

Office Confidential: How the Pros Decorate Their Work Spaces

March 5, 2020

The office. It’s the place where we spend at least 70% of our waking hours during the week as we struggle to get through the ol’ 9 to 5. So we had to ask: what do the workspaces of today’s design wizards look like? The answer: an array of inspirational spaces that run the gamut from serene and pristine to bold and fantastical.

Redd Kaihoi

The tented entry of the Redd Kaihoi office in New York City, featured in an Architectural Digest story in 2017 by Mayer Rus. See the story at architecturaldigest.com.  Francois Dischinger

“Our current office is a big upgrade from our first spot on Bleecker. We saved up for it by having a bowling alley of an office for ten years. All New Yorkers work like crazy and spend a lot of time in the office, so I wanted to create a nice environment—a lab of sorts—with lots of decorative flourishes, to help our clients understand our ideas,” says Miles Redd. “I love tented rooms, so we dreamed up a tented hallway. I love interesting doors, so we designed several doors that hopefully explain our designs. Decorating takes a lot of trust. When you tell someone you want to do a room in dry, rough oak and mirror, the average person might not see the vision. Now we have a visual tool to help, as well as a very pleasant place to spend the day.” reddkaihoi.com


Peter Pennoyer Architects

The library at the Manhattan office of Peter Pennoyer Architects features bookcases in a wonderful scarlet hue.Eric Piasecki

“Our office combines comfortable furniture in a loft-like setting. Bookcases were essential as our library holds thousands of books on design and architecture,” notes Peter Pennoyer of his Midtown Manhattan workspace. “I also believe that an office should have a conference table in the library as well as club chairs for reading. The office palette is off-white, but I chose blazer red for the bookcases to make a strong contrast.” www.ppapc.com

Brian J. McCarthy, Inc.

In Brian McCarthy’s Manhattan office, a Mongolian goat fur and mohair wool velvet chair by Fernando and Humberto Campana sits in front of “Brown Stare” by Jacqueline Humphries, while an oil painting by Cuban artist Orlando Almanza hangs above the file custom cabinetry.Francesco Lagnese

“While making sure it functioned as an office, it was equally important to me that it look and feel more like a modern and traditional library in our home. As in most of our projects, backgrounds and decorative finishes are key for me. And so in the office, you will find black cerused oak custom cabinetry, hand painted and textured plaster walls, bespoke curtain & upholstery fabrics and wallpaper. It is also a showcase for books, art, objects and furniture—and is constantly evolving and changing much like one’s home,” notes principal Brian McCarthy of his New York City office.

“Bookcases were essential for our design & architecture library but if I had to choose, my favorite feature are the flat files that we had custom built-in to the conference room” says the Manhattan-based designer. “These sliding file drawers house everything from Chinese lacquer, marble, stone, mirror, glass, embossed leather and eglomise samples to a multitude of specialty decorative finishes that can be easily accessed, presented and reviewed when client’s come here for meetings. It’s my Aladdin’s Cave of goodies to inspire, entice & seduce our clients.” bjminc.com

Paloma Contreras Interior Design

“When designing our office, I wanted the mood to be warm and inviting, but to also provide a blank slate for creativity. Each of our projects is different from the next, so my preference is for my work space to be more neutral so that I can have the freedom to be equally creative for all of the projects we are working on at any given time without being encumbered by my environment,” says Paloma Contreras of her Houston, Texas space. “Since we currently share a cottage with our retail store, Paloma & Co, organization and storage are super important. We maximize every inch we have and try to keep clutter at bay. No space is complete without something living, so my favorite accessories are our live myrtle topiaries. Great art is also really important! We frequently change out the art on the large wall to the right of my desk as things sell in the store or to my design clients.” palomacontreras.com

Alyssa Kapito Interiors

A serene grey hue on the walls blends beautifully with natural and white wood in Alyssa Kapito’s New York City office.Kirsten Francis

“I really wanted our design studio to have the same feel and ambiance as the homes we design. The use of clean lines and a neutral palette created a workplace that was both warm and inspiring for the team and our clients!” says Alyssa Kapito of her Manhattan office’s neutral palette. “We always fill our large plaster vase with branches each week, and it immediately lifts the room with such beautiful color and dimension.” alyssakapito.com