• Frank Oles

Office Design Part 3: "The Viceroy Midwest"


Another floor. Another chance to raise the bar of office decor.


Our tastes were maturing. It was time to leave the North Woods behind and head for the haven of Advertising Creatives for inspiration - Santa Monica California. Specifically, the Viceroy Hotel. Designer Kelly Wearstler designed the Viceroy in a British Regency style. Key details include medium gray and bright green hues, high-backed chairs, and plates on the wall. It all seemed doable on our meager budget so we set to work.


We tried to stay true to the source design, and we used our creativity to keep our spend low. We sourced a couple of high-backed chairs from Craigslist, and then I set about airbrushing them an eye searing apple green. Office services was kind enough to paint the walls grey for us. Initial impressions were "Gee guys, it looks like of dark and gloomy." But once we got the plates on the wall and the snazzy chrome wallpaper, it really came together with some mood lighting. We secured the plates to the wall with 2-part epoxy glue and some wood screws - they screwed right in! We were able to salvage the bar from the Blue Ox with a little paint and some wallpaper scraps. Together with a hand-me-down couch and a chandelier from Urban Outfitters, and we were ready to write the next chapter in our office design history.


Here you can see the “before” and “after” of our resale chairs. I found some spray-able fabric dye, loaded it into my airbrush and went to town. The result was not bad and fairly permanent. Just don’t wear white!


The finished chairs and the plates on the wall, inspired by the Viceroy Hotel, a favorite haunt of advertising types when they shoot commercials in Santa Monica.


Mike is testing out the sturdiness of his bar. Believe it or not, this is the same bar from the Blue Ox bar, reskinned and repainted.


A cool, yet inexpensive chandelier sourced from Urban Outfitters took things a bit upscale and modern.


A plywood desktop was covered with grey flannel, similar to the bed coverings at the Viceroy hotel. It was an unusual but great surface texture for a desk.


This office couch was passed down to us from generations of advertising creatives. We still have it. The history this couch must hold. That and Bill Bernbach’s farts.


Marion and Mike are testing out the chairs. They work! It was fun bringing a piece of the West Coast back to Chicago. For our next project, we went to the pub...



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