GOING TO THE ROOTS: John Varvatos has turned to The Roots, a four-time Grammy-winning group and the house band on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” to front its fall advertising campaign. “I’ve been a huge fan of The Roots for years,” said Varvatos of the Philadelphia-based septet that has won acclaim for its jazz-influenced approach to hip-hop. “They are one of the most innovative musical forces on the planet.”
It doesn’t hurt that they also “have a supercool look from a style standpoint,” the designer added.
This story first appeared in the June 30, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Danny Clinch, who has shot the last 14 Varvatos campaigns, photographed the group at Republic Airport in New York as they were getting off a plane. “The way The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles traveled had a huge impact on the direction for this season’s campaign,” said Stephen Niedzwiecki, creative director of ad agency Yard. “I had been traveling a lot, and when I knew we were shooting The Roots, I started to think about how it would be to travel like the rock stars did in the Seventies. Led Zeppelin’s plane had fireplaces built in. So that’s what inspired us to shoot them in that way.”
Niedzwiecki said a second round of shots was “image-based. They’re simple rock ’n’ roll portraits that are simple and iconic and showed who they were.”
A bonus of the fall campaign is an impromptu jam on the tarmac that was captured on video. Varvatos said the video will be featured on the John Varvatos Web site beginning this weekend. The ads themselves will break in the September issues of magazines in the U.S. and internationally, including GQ, Esquire, Vanity Fair and Details. The band has also agreed to play at the designer’s store in the former CBGB space on the Bowery during New York Fashion Week in September.
— JEAN E. PALMIERI
CONDE NAST GOES COMMUNAL: Condé Nast has found an architect to transform 20 empty floors of poured concrete in the rising tower at 1 World Trade into hallowed magazine offices. Gensler, a behemoth international firm, won the bid to complete interior designs for the new Condé Nast offices downtown, chief executive officer Chuck Townsend announced Wednesday.
“We believe we design workplaces where people want to be, and people should love where they work,” said Robin Klehr Avia, managing principal at Gensler. “You should walk into your workplace every day and want to be there.” She said that Condé Nast executives and her team haven’t made any decisions about the office space yet. The first step will be a series of what she called “visioning sessions.”
At 4 Times Square, Mancini-Duffy Associates, a firm commissioned by companies like Equinox and Bloomingdale’s, handled the interior design on each magazine’s floor. But Frank Gehry’s cafeteria was the architectural star of the building. So far the plans for the new offices downtown don’t seem at all concerned with architectural flourishes of that grandeur. “They want really designed efficient, effective space — really flexible space,” said Avia. “They talked about the concept of flexibility and being a space where communication can happen, where people can work together as teams.” Avia said she couldn’t say for sure if Gensler would be handing the publisher’s cafeteria on the 34th floor — “I hope we are,” she said — or if another architect would be chosen.
Gensler is the largest interior design firm in the country. The firm’s client roster includes Dickies, the Texas-based overall company; Dockers; Barneys New York locations in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Dallas, and the JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport. “We’ve done a lot of financial services, a lot of financial institutions,” said Avia. Gensler has also produced interior designs for other media companies, including rival Hearst, The New York Times and the Associated Press.
— ZEKE TURNER