Client Sidney Kimmel and interior designer Juan Montoya Montoya are not strangers to each other. They first worked together professionally when the former, board chairman of Jones Apparel Group, asked Montoya to design his corporate office. Next the designer was tapped to do the client’s Manhattan apartment (July 1980 Interior Design). And most recently he was commissioned to create new show/sales rooms as well as executive offices for Jones New York (career clothing) and JonesSport (sportswear), two of twelve divisions formerly in separate locations and now housed on one floor covering 10,000 sq. ft. The site again is in New York’s garment district.
The long collaboration notwithstanding, Montoya prefaces his report about the illustrated job by rating Kimmel’s creative contributions “terrific.’ Yet even (or particularly) allowing for commendable modesty, the assessment is clearly one-sided. For subsequent conversation reveals that the client requested “more of the same,’ that, in other words, Montoya’s established design approach was to be re-applied and adapted to new conditions. The latter can be summed up simply: growth, both physically and financially. Thus the premises for the commingled divisions cover increased square footage, reflect more luxurious treatments identified with success, and better serve the functional needs of those engaged in running the business.
Overall, Montoya explains, elements carried over from the forerunner spaces encompass the lighting system, which combines incandescents for focal concentration on clothes racks and fluorescents for ambient illumination, as well as the pink/ beige/mauve (“grayed rather than yellowed’) color scheme. The former is now more refined, the latter utilizes somewhat darker tones. “Similar but different’ could, in fact, sum up the entire story as it applies not only to the recent vs. earlier installation but also to the design approach to the two divisions. For Jones New York this means comparative formality expressed primarily through dark furniture surfaces, whereas for Jones Sport, light woods predominate. Merchandise for the career clothing group, furthermore, is kept on individual racks positioned at salesmen’s reach within each booth which, in turn, contains carpeting set into wood floors. In the sportswear show/sales room, on the other hand, one communal fixture holds all samples, and the vendors bring selections to the seated buyers. Continuous carpeting covers the floor here. Executive offices run along perimetric walls.
A unified corporate presence is projected at the elevator-bank entry where identical doors on either side lead to the showroom spaces with their own divisional identities. Both showrooms deploy similar devices, but detailing again is different. Each entry area has wood floors and utilizes backlit transparencies illustrating fashions for sale in the rooms beyond. In the Jones New York section, however, there is only one photograph on a large panel topped with fluorescent strip casting reflections on the tilted fin edges so as to resemble a large trapezoidal frame. The ceiling is mirrored for illusion of added height, and a cut-out slit (looking to the switchboard operator), optically played back by the overhead plane, is intended to give the room a sense of dimension. In the sportswear waiting room, by contrast, photographs are displayed in triplicate, and the seating is less residential in appearance and placement. Artworks throughout were selected by Montoya.