After The Moderns’ ninth-floor office suffered a devastating, 8,000 gallon flood on October 8, 2009, Janine James, our President and Chief Creative Officer, rebranded the catastrophe The Moderns’ tsunami for change.
Janine, her partner, Kevin Szell, and we solutionists embraced the tsunami for change as an opportunity to reevaluate their own ways of thinking, working, and living.
We started by asking ourselves the daunting but unavoidable question, “Why do we even need office space?” Is it to play host to our clients? Not exactly. The price per square foot per client is too high to justify renting space. In theory, we could even work as nomads, meeting in coffee shops and each others’ apartments when necessary.
This fundamental question served as a springboard for researching the history of Manhattan office space over the past half century. The more we learned, the clearer it became: Ironically, service industry firms have been spending increasingly astronomical amounts of money to physically isolate their employees from the very world they intend to service.
Above our heads, light bulbs began to flicker. What if we eschewed the old definitions of office space altogether? What if, rather than separating ourselves from our surroundings, we designed our space as a bridge to the outside world?