ICON Summer 2015 : Page 30

These three ideas also demonstrate the power of design to positively change people’s lives in work spaces and to help define relationships with one another. “Egalitarian” is a word Staffelbach keeps in mind when designing an executive’s office today, and it is echoed by the other designers ICON spoke with about the new power office. All three of the ideas, if planned and successfully put together, will work for the individual, colleagues, employees, visitors, and when recruiting young talent to the firm. Youth — read millennial culture — must be served. The old style CEO office “won’t be accepted by young people anymore,” Staffelbach says, “and they certainly won’t want to come to work for you.” ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER GARY WHEELER, FASID, flew to Paris a number of years ago to discuss a new design plan with the chief executive of a multinational hospitality firm. A founding partner at WheelerKänik with headquar-ters in London, Wheeler recalled being kept waiting for close to two hours until he was escorted upstairs to meet the man in charge. “In those days, chief executives were literally in the tower,” Wheeler says, kept distant from other employees on a separate floor until the unwashed were ushered up to meet with the royal one, listen to the riot act, or be dispatched into the outer dark-ness of unemployment. On this Paris trip, once in the CEO’s lair, Wheeler could have been in the manager’s quar-ters of an 18th century chateau: Everything was heavy, dark, and dominated by a battleship of a desk. The designer saw the executive sitting behind what seemed like acres of oak “in his great, big chair, and I was perched on a little stool. That’s the way things used to be, only 15 years ago.” Wheeler’s anecdote brings to mind the design of former Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-Ill.) Capitol Hill office, done by Annie Brahler of Euro Trash, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, Ill. Brahler went into overdrive with blood red walls and carpet, pheasant feathers, glassed library cabinets, and molding that would put any self-respecting wed-ding cake to shame. Through some unhappy (for Schock) occur-rences, the faux Victorian drawing room office got publicity, and Schock became a national laughing-stock. Soon after, the congressman resigned amid allegations of fuzzy money maneuvering. Game to the last, he kept his connection to the ridicu-lous intact, comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln in his farewell address on the floor of the House of Representatives. The congressman and any other leader could benefit from what Wheeler described as promoting a sense of “engagement.” He gave an example of a design plan he recently completed for an American bank executive’s office in London. As with Rechler’s office on Long Island, the personal workspace “is about him,” Wheeler says, with a table desk and storage behind it, a place for family pictures and memorabilia. “This space is his cocoon,” Wheeler says, but another part of the office has “soft seating, a con-ference table for him and others where 90 percent of the work gets done.” Today, he added, the modern executive doesn’t want to be seen as stationary, behind a desk in an aloof and commanding role, but as a leader who will get up and move, inviting you in for a discussion on an equal basis. 30 icon SUMMER 2015 | THE MAGAZINE OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS

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