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At Work: Diane Von Furstenberg, 1983

For a creative woman in the fashion and cosmetics business, an image of exotic luxury expresses the personal taste of the chief executive and the multi-million dollar company she directs.

The word sensuous rarely springs to mind in the design of executive offices, but in a rare instance, as in the headquarters of fashion/cosmetics designer Diane Von Furstenberg, it seems appropriate. The client told the designers, The Switzer Group, that she wanted a mixture of transatlantic ocean liner and Esther Williams movie, and it is precisely that blend of exotic elegance and theatricality that makes there spaces work as a reflection of office image.


The reception area sets the color theme for the offices. Its unusual round desk is banded in signature colors of pink, mauve and pale turquoise. Behind the receptionist, an orchid painting clues the visitor into the company logo. Orchids are also quilted into the fabric covering the banquettes. Satin pillows are tossed informally on this seating. Overhead, the mauve-painted dropped ceiling gives the illusion of reflecting the purple carpet.


Von Furstenberg had strong views about expressing her individual tastes and style. As might be expected, the most personal room is her own office. It is the inner sanctum of a creative, tireless businesswoman, and it shows that characteristic vividly. The Art Nouveau desk and a pair of Art Deco armchairs were gifts from family and friends. The wall behind the desk is a sort of visual laboratory, cluttered with clippings, photographs, sketches and other creative catalysts. White floor-length draperies at the windows contribute to the "soft office" luxury ambiance.


View of the windows leading to an outdoor terrace outside Diane Von Furstenberg's private office.


The cosmetics showroom is the most formal of the office spaces. It is an exercise in Deco sensuality. Rounded corners, pale colors and smooth surfaces combine to form the perfect setting for the display of a very fashionable line of cosmetics and beauty-care items. This feeling is reinforced by the display fixtures and the showroom doors, with their curving handles and portholes (shades of the luxury liner).

Eight elegant armchairs upholstered in white are grouped around a soft-edged conference table - an inviting arena for discussing the beauty business.


The subtle play of colors includes the ubiquitous pale mauve and purple, with an ice cream striped satin fabric used to upholster a banquette. This is set off with a mirrored wall behind it and mirrored tiles on the ceiling, to give an impression of height and depth.


A more relaxed theatrical tone is established in the conference room, where banquettes and chairs are arranged in an area perfectly appropriate to the introduction of new fashion lines and other products. Merchandise is on display on a metal framework and lit with theatrical spotlights for maximum effect. The transatlantic motif is continued in the lights on each side of the windows, which are from an ocean liner.

Scanned from Designers' Workplaces by Beverly Russell, 1983.

This is so my dream office come to life.

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