When Shiseido Americas began its search for a new headquarters, the company had a simple goal: To create “one Shiseido,” a place that encapsulated the firm’s history, sense of community, and reputation as global leader in beauty and innovation.
That space now exists in the HOK-designed Shiseido Americas Headquarters, an eight-floor vertical campus at 390 Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
Like all makeovers, the design process for the new headquarters began by establishing a strong foundation. Working closely with the client, HOK’s design team infused each floor with the Shiseido tenets of cohesion, transformation and the Japanese hospitality principle of omotenashi.
The new headquarters brings together a dozen Shiseido beauty and cosmetics brands that had been spread across multiple buildings and floors in floors 15 through 22 of the 32-story 390 Madison Avenue. The property was under renovation when Shiseido first eyed the building, and the rehab allowed the design team to create a separate lobby and link several of the floors with double-height spaces and connecting stairs.
"Everyone looks upon the site that we’ve developed here in New York as a beacon—a lighthouse for the entire global organization." — Ron Gee , CFO Shiseido Americas
To spark employee interaction, several Shiseido brands share floors with common dining and lounge amenities that promote spontaneous connections and collaboration. Each product line also has its own “knuckle” or hub, a kit-of-parts design approach that allows business units to meet company-wide standards while supporting brand culture, customization and flexibility. Shiseido executives share the headquarters’ lowest level floor to diminish the traditional notion of hierarchy.
The idea of transformation inherent to cosmetics guided the office aesthetics. Representations of beauty can be found in the rounded and curved forms, color schemes inspired by makeup palettes and elements of surprise that celebrate the senses.
Conference rooms with tinted glass privacy walls blend from one tone to the next like an artistic display of eye shadow. Punched metal detailing along the stairways and balconies mimics the pores that dot the cheeks and brow.
In a nod to Japanese culture, hallways feature blown-up images of calligraphy brushstrokes while patterned ceiling tiles in the executive suite mimic the folded geometry of origami. In the double-height lounge, hundreds of cylindrical light fixtures hang from the ceiling like lipstick tubes to form the letter “S” in the Shiseido logo.
Omotenashi can be translated as “touching the heart of the guest or customer.” It’s a hospitality principle that forms the basis of Shiseido’s business philosophy.
Architectural expression of omotenashi permeates the New York headquarters and particularly the 19th floor arrivals space and lobby that serves as the heart of Shiseido Americas. This amenities-rich floor includes a café (with barista), large manicured terrace, and a two-story events space and lounge where employees and guests can both socialize and work.
"Not only is it a beautiful space, it signals to the employees that the company cares about their work environment." — Julia McEvoy , Executive Director Facilities Management, Shiseido Americas
A reception space, also on the 19th floor, continues the themes of hospitality and beauty with its intimate waiting area, serpentine desk of white Corian and brass, and a wood ceiling installation—reminiscent of a Japanese fan—that appears to radiate energy across the office.
The result is a headquarters that, like Shiseido, celebrates both traditional and contemporary notions of beauty, work and community.