The rhythm of madness
Design teamUjjwal Sagar , Sanjana Mathur
Civil contractorNot Applicable
Project area1200 Sq. Ft.
Initiation of projectSeptember 2017
Completion of projectDecember 2017
Project estimate10-15 lakh INR
Esquire Office, New Delhi
For a firm called Studio Bipolar, its project, the Esquire Office perhaps exemplifies the genius of madness. Madness, in this context, is the departure from conventions that defy sanity and logic; a brave plunge into colour and form. Esquire started off as an American men’s magazine is now set to launch its nightclub in New Delhi. The Esquire Office designed by Studio Bipolar is a workspace that governs the administration of nightclubs that are owned by Esquire. It draws from art and design movements at the time of Esquire’s birth to newer developments in design like minimalism and even kitsch. The workspace also upholds the onus of accommodating creative minds and executing the same with finesse and sophistication.
Text: Shriti Das
Drawings: Studio Bipolar
A functional office with sophisticated and quirky décor was the primary brief that the architects at Studio Bipolar explored for Esquire Office. Function and sophistication is perhaps a common objective amongst all designers when creating a space. But for Esquire, Studio Bipolar interweaved ideas, that, if mentioned collectively would evoke chaos; Art Deco, primary colours, minimalism and so on. The subsequent design brief evolved into ‘Sophisticated Madness’ a term coined by the architects themselves. If one scratches beneath the surface, it hardly takes genius to realise that its sophisticated madness also borders on ‘Mad Genius’.
The Art Deco inspiration transpired from the event that Esquire emerged during the Art Deco Movement. Esquire was founded in 1933 at a time when Art Deco had already found its way to the United States, influencing its architecture and design. The Chrysler Building, Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center were prominent buildings of the 1930s’ constructed in the Art Deco style. Art Deco signified the transition from traditionalism to a modern aesthetic sensibility that embraced colour, asymmetry, strong curves and geometrics, glass, metal and so on. This Art Deco influence is mirrored prominently in the office in the form of partitions. To divide the space into individual sections yet retain transparency and porosity lead to the architects designing punctured partitions. Slender metal plates were bent into geometric shapes, reminiscent of Art Deco motifs. Tinted glass is fitted into the partitions. The partitions are only partly glazed to retain privacy but also allow the vision to wander across the space.
The colours are strictly restricted to primary colours; red, blue and yellow and not their pastel or monochromatic variants. They are deployed in their true shades sans any effort to mask their vividness and domineering presence. A yellow carpet is created on the flooring that directs circulation towards and away from the boardroom. It is derived from the concept of a ‘red carpet’ only, executed in yellow. While boardrooms often reek of boredom, the one that Esquire Office completely flips the conventional image of a meeting area. The architects wanted to create a conference table that echoed the aesthetics of the office space. They created a frameless yellow tinted glass table. The transparent yellow tint lends a warm hue to the floor and walls. It also reflects the patterns of the Art Deco inspired partitions and the black and white striped wallpaper at the team workstations area; a large common central space.
The black and white striped wallpaper is deployed to elongate the space. The Art Deco influence is also predominant in the furniture and fixtures used in the area. The space also has high-tables that resemble a bar counter. The attached wall showcases iconic covers of the Esquire Magazine, reinforcing the brand identity.
This central common space when viewed against the backdrop of the meeting room or even if viewed in cohesion; appears playful and even distracting. However, the work-desks are oriented to face blank walls. The long-table or the team workstation in the common area which is oriented perpendicular to the wall with the striped wall-paper ensues that the users face one another. Even the high-tables overlooking the wall with Esquire Magazine covers are essentially blank at eye-level as the magazine covers are fixed at a significant height. While the office hosts a playful and even a glamorous character, it does not distract the office staff when they are working at their stations. The meeting room, while it encompasses and element of fun, the space is predominantly black and white with wooden blinds. The yellow table is a feature but doesn’t interfere or distract.
While Art Deco was the new wave of modernism for its time it also gave way to minimalism in the 1960s’ and 1970s’ and is a prominent style of design till date. The minimalism is reflected in the details; the conference table sans frames, the slim metallic profiles of the partitions, the glazing that is fixed sans visible beading ‘pattis’ and the furniture finished in clean straight lines. This is not to say that the office is designed adhering to minimalism or even on the lines of Art Deco. Despite elements from each style and layered with a generous dose of colour, it is difficult to categorise the office into any style or school of design. For a firm that calls itself Bipolar, the Esquire office perhaps exemplifies and paints a clear picture of the mad genius. An amicable and aesthetic genius, albeit mad, the good kind of mad.