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NEW YORK — Tony King is “mental about cables” — which is why there’s not a cord in sight at digital agency King & Partners’ SoHo headquarters here.
Designed by King, the office is a loft that occupies two floors in an industrial space on Great Jones Street. The lower floor houses 18 of the firm’s 25 employees (seven work out of a secondary Charleston, S.C., office) — all seated along massive American walnut wooden tables. Created by Brooklyn-based artist Stéphane Hubert, each is complete with industrial steel legs that contain power and hidden compartments so there are no visible cables.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. The design of the furniture and environment ties in with our overall design philosophy of the beauty of absolute simplicity tied to pure functionality,” King said of the decor, which includes herringbone white oak floors, white lacquered custom cabinetry, Eames Project chairs, a gray Ligne Roset couch, Dyson hand dryers in the bathrooms and a “signature” candle — the Monocle x Comme des Garçons Candle One in Hinoki.
King started his namesake firm in October 2010, after spending nearly six years as chief creative officer at Createthe Group, which he co-founded with James Gardner in late 2003. Before that, he spent three years at Gucci during the Tom Ford era, where he was responsible for the launch of gucci.com. During his time there, he found that there were no agencies set up to address the digital needs of fashion and luxury brands — and that’s how his partnership with Gardner came about.
But this time, King wants to approach the business from a slightly different angle.
“We consider our clients as our partners. Our work is completely bespoke for each brand. Nothing looks the same,” King said, rattling off a list that includes Marc Jacobs Fragrances, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Thakoon, J Brand, ABC Carpet and Home, Bottega Veneta, Ippolita, KCD’s Digital Fashion Shows platform, Ralph Lauren Watches and Jewelry, Mario Testino (his digital flagship will launch in the coming weeks), Kenzo, W Hotels and Zegna. “Being a creative director in digital is about coming up with brand-appropriate ideas that get the consumer excited.”
He maintains the approach he takes with clients, along with chief operations officer Jan Cohen and the rest of the team, is very hands-on, and the breadth of services offered includes digital and social media strategy, branding, art direction and design, Web site development and e-commerce, content management systems, mobile sites and apps and photo and video production. The venture has been self-funded by King & Partners thus far, and King said he’s not looking for outside investors.
King just revealed an investment in New York-based CA Creative, a social media and online editorial agency that works with David Yurman, Equipment, Joie, Paige Denim, Charlotte Ronson, Mikimoto, Paul Mitchell and the W Hotels. The 25 percent stake in CA Creative is the second investment that the two-year-old company has received this year (the other is from a team of West Coast-based investors). King’s firm and CA Creative work out of the same offices and King said the new investment will help the companies open a new department that caters to search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization and paid search.
Today, King & Partners will open Air Studios, an e-commerce photo studio that occupies the floor above the main office.
King and company also just opened up Sellect, an e-commerce and content management system that it has built from the ground up — for brands and other firms to use on a license basis. In development for 18 months and in use by King’s team for 12, he calls it the “perfect fashion e-commerce platform” with a simple, intuitive interface that contains all the features a brand or designer using it might need. The technology lets the user manage branded content with e-commerce and merchandise instantly. It also contains a dashboard that features site analytics and tabulates in-store sales in real time. Two clients use Sellect so far (Thakoon and Phillip Lim), and two more are about to launch — but like Open Air, the platform is open to anyone.