NYU School of Law Professor, 40 Washington Sq. S.
However messy it might appear, Kornhauser’s office is a case study right out of the new book, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. “There’s an optimal degree of disorder for efficiency,” says Kornhauser, “though I think I might have passed it.” Kornhauser holds a Ph.D. in economics, and is more of a describer than a proscriber, which one might say is clear from his organizational style. Whether it’s a result of nature or nurture, his disorganization is a fact his wife and his colleagues accept, if not admire. “It’s always been like this,” he said, “but my office has gotten bigger over time, so I am able to express myself more fully.”
Simon de Pury
Chairman of Phillips de Pury & Company Auction House, 450 W. 15th St.
The centerpiece of Phillips de Pury & Co.’s industrial-glamorous loft offices in the meatpacking district is De Pury’s own office, set off with Ron Arad chairs and lined with John Armleder’s giant silver plastic bubbles. The dueling focal points are a giant crystal-and-LED text-messaging chandelier by Arad—the “Lolita”—and a swooping, soaring desk-bookshelf-sculpture by artist Vito Acconci. If it looks impractical, look harder. Since he has put serious stock in design as a commodity, it stands to reason that De Pury would want his silver to have a high-design polish.
Playwright, Screenwriter, Greenwich Village
Though his apartment looks out over the new Hudson River park, Paul Rudnick lodged his office in an interior, view-free nook. “I like that it has no windows, so I’m not distracted,” he says. “But it’s filled with crap, so I am.” Almost everything in the Greenwich Village apartment is, in Rudnick’s words, “Gothic Revival from various godforsaken countries.” Even most exceptions are old-school: Front and center on the desk sits an IBM Selectric, which he still uses to write. There’s a heavy wooden chair, “in which I write heavy, wooden prose,” and two Gothic cabinets “used for completely inappropriate things, like to hold a fax machine, just to outrage the furniture.” Behind the typewriter stands one lone token of the 21st century, an iMac, “where it shivers in terror.”
Founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, 601 W. 26th St.
What does Martha Stewart love about her ninth-floor corner office in the Starrett-Lehigh Building, where MSLO has 150,000 square feet and some 350 employees? “Its emptiness,” says Stewart. “I like simple, and my life is very full. And I have many houses that are very full. This is like a retreat.” And despite the appearance that no work gets done behind the barren, white Formica Saarinen table, there is indeed a keyboard attached to the computer monitor (in a drawer), and pens, paper, and Post-its (in another drawer). “I need it to be pristine,” she said. “The only problem is keeping the windows clean.”
President of RFR Holding, 390 Park Ave.
To design an office suite for his real-estate development company, located in Lever House, Aby Rosen hired the building’s original architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He took the corner office, with its massive terrace and view of the Seagram Building—his other marquee property. Rosen, who clashed with Upper East Siders about his 2006 proposal for a glass skyscraper, embraces conflict. This is illustrated by the two jarring Warhols in his office; one is of Russell Means, the Native American who led the 1970 takeover of Mount Rushmore; the other, a great big handgun. “The gun is such a cliché of American violence, I think it’s very soothing,” says Rosen.
Mayor of New York City, City Hall
In 2002, instead of moving into Mayor Giuliani’s ground-floor corner office, Bloomberg turned the empty chamber upstairs—formerly the home of the Board of Estimate—into what’s now called the Bullpen. The enormous, newsroom-style office houses 50 of his senior staff and aides, three aquariums, and a cardboard helicopter. “I’ve never understood why anyone would want to seal himself off from the rest of the organization. In the Bullpen, there are no walls, no gatekeepers, and no communication barriers,” explains Bloomberg.
Interior Designer and Architect, 69 Mercer St.
Robert Couturier has flawless taste and an appetite for change, so nearly everything in his elegant Soho office is yours for the asking. The chic red Ernest Boiceau carpet is thirties French, and costs about $100,000; the painted-wood side chairs are French neoclassical, upholstered in suede, and are $20,000 for a set of six. The leather-topped card table ($12,000) and leather-tipped daybed ($37,500) are both Jacques Adnet. “My grandfather’s office was filled with all that Adnet stuff,” he says, “but back then I thought it was all just stuff you could throw away. If I had only known!” A suite of workout equipment in the corner is in marked design contrast with the more-permanent fixtures. “When I get really upset, I get my trainer to come to the office, and then I can go eat some more.”
Giuseppe Lignano and Ada Tolla
Founders Of Lot-Ek Architecture Firm, 55 Little W. 12th St.
Giuseppe Lignano and Ada Tolla moved into this raw space in the meatpacking district in 1992, and immediately experimented with paneling and window shades made out of metal from the side of a truck. Now it’s a ten-person firm, and space is tight. “We tried to move last year, but we couldn’t find anything we liked, so we decided to maximize the space.” That meant a lot of shelving, a prim row of desks, and a new conference area festooned with a detergent-bottle lamp. And they can watch the construction of André Balazs’s hotel out the back window. “We thought it would be fun to stay and watch the transformation of the area—it’s become a very different kind of meat market.”
Antonio “LA” Reid
Chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group, 825 Eighth Ave.
The halls of Def Jam’s headquarters are littered with blown-up magazine covers and flat-screen monitors, but Antonio “LA” Reid describes his 28th-floor corner office as “traditional elegance with a very contemporary twist.” Hence the clash of white leather upholstery with big black speakers, Diptyque candles with Davidoff cigar accessories, and Harvard Business School paraphernalia with all-access laminates. Alongside vintage photographs by Elliott Erwitt, there are snaps of Reid with Usher, Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, Andre Harrell, Phil Robinson, and P. Diddy. “I want it to be comfortable, but not a place that anyone could fall asleep in.” Not likely; see woofer.
Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy
A cluttered desk in the Soho office of the fashion designer and his business partner.