Down this forbiddingly bland hall in the General Motors building lay a feast of color unsurpassed in the corporate world then or since. The office suite had been designed in a curious blend of styles for the Helena Rubinstein cosmetics company by Joseph Braswell, a name that one comes across in older issues of Architectural Digest, and judging by these interiors a hellishly good decorator.
Color as part of a corporate identity was not a new concept in 1971 when these photos were published but this degree of individual identity expressed in the design of offices was rare, if not unique. That a corporate office was located in a Modernist building was to be expected by this time (it could be argued that by the seventies Modernism had taken over from Neo-classicism and become the preferred architectural style of authority) and also to be expected was a rigorous furnishing scheme based on a pared-down industrial aesthetic, in a relatively neutral palette.
What is so refreshing about this almost forty-year old design is the mix of style - Modernism, Baroque, Colonial and Park Avenue Traditional. I describe it a curious mix but if one considers the previous decade's upheavals and the resultant solidifying of traditional attitudes it should not be too surprising.
Here is the traditional corporation allying itself with the old guard, indeed stating by its choice of location, architecture, furnishings and art that it is part of the establishment, yet feeling the need to soften the totalitarian message with a reception room masquerading as a Park Avenue drawing room in full fig, flushed through with the bright colors of the 1960s, and by the use of Baroque and Colonial furniture from both sides of the Atlantic.
She moved down the hall
So I paid her a call
She flashed a smile
I stayed awhile ...
Photos uncredited as far as I can ascertain, but are from Architectural Digest, March/April 1971
Quote from She Moved Down the Hall by The Four Seasons.