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A Peek Inside L’Oréal USA’s Gleaming New Digs in Hudson Yards

A virtual reality room allows for simulation of optimal product placement.

NEW YORK — It’s been almost a year since L’Oréal USA moved out of Midtown Manhattan and headed west to its new headquarters at 10 Hudson Yards.

And although there’s still the buzz of construction surrounding the gleaming building, where the beauty giant occupies 10 floors spanning more than 414,000 square feet (an increase of 25 percent over the older space), inside it’s a mixture of high-tech and zen.

L’Oréal USA pulled back the curtain for a tour of its new home where its 1,400 employees are among the pioneers in a neighborhood hoping to be a hot spot of New York.

Hudson Yards spans 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space with a finish target date of 2025. When completed, it will be home to about 125,000 people a day who will either work, visit or live in the neighborhood.

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Given the company’s decision to relocate there, Frédéric Rozé, president and chief executive officer of L’Oréal USA, naturally praised Hudson Yards, which he claimed is set to become a new cultural hub of New York. “Hudson Yards is a modern, sustainable and innovative new home for a modern, sustainable and innovative L’Oréal USA,” he said of the space, which replaces the home the company had occupied for 60 years before outgrowing it — thanks partly to acquisitions. “With the new development at Hudson Yards, we saw the opportunity to create a new, beautiful L’Oréal USA headquarters that would be uniquely ours and capture the innovative spirit of our company. Our goal was to design a modern space from the ground up that would allow us to provide the very best work environment for our employees to collaborate and feel inspired.”

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L’Oréal's New Office Designed for Employees'
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Care was taken to listen to the wish lists of employees. The new office space at Hudson Yards was custom-designed in partnership with Gensler, the global architecture and design firm. The vision was grounded in the collective ideas and feedback of employees. What employees asked for included more space for collaboration and informal meetings, more natural light and inspiring surroundings, more amenities connected to the company’s business and a more digitally connected environment for exchanging with colleagues in other parts of the world.

The wish list is evident from the bright and airy work spaces, a sparkling nail salon where employees can try out the latest Essie products, a consumer beauty lab, a full-service corporate dining room, a 4,000-square-foot terrace off of a well-appointed café with sweeping views including the Statue of Liberty and even meditation and wellness rooms to chill out. L’Oréal partnered with Mindfresh to bring on-site mindfulness sessions (guided meditations, light stretching, breathing exercises) to employees based at U.S. headquarters at Hudson Yards. Employees who work at Hudson Yards and or Terminal Stores will also have exclusive access to effective and short, mindfulness technique online videos. Rooms are available for nursing mothers.

Nail salon nail technician service provider
An in-office nail salon was on employees’ wish lists. Courtesy of Gensler

There is 12,740 square feet dedicated to lounge and informal meeting areas including living room-style libraries and meeting “bubbles” bearing names of New York landmarks on every floor. In addition to the company’s 10 Hudson Yards headquarters, L’Oréal USA has relocated select teams to Terminal Stores, a revitalized West Chelsea warehouse complex that used to be home to a transfer station for the New York Central Railroad. Nearly 100 employees from creative teams across L’Oréal USA’s brand portfolio sit at Terminal Stores, a short walk to Hudson Yards.

But perhaps the most riveting is a virtual reality room, The Beauty Lab, where simulations can be made in 3-D that provide a new virtual alternative to costly physical resets of shelves. Real store settings are simulated to help brands and retailers understand how consumers interact with products in real life. One outcome is faster speed to market with everything from products to in-store displays and signage.

L’Oréal's New Office Designed for Employees'
The virtual reality room.

The Beauty Lab is instrumental in influencing retailers by helping them “visualize” innovative store concepts without costly physical build-outs. The team and their partners use it for “big picture” concepts to help move the needle on future beauty sales.

To virtually build stores, the team photographs 5,000 to 6,000 images of each store and measures every shelf. “The power is that once we have the shell of the store, we can move things around and design the store in any way we choose,” said Joe Sinisi, assistant vice president, category management at L’Oréal USA. “This enables us to showcase both current concepts but also thought-provoking retail designs.”

Also, the space is leveraged with focus groups, obtaining feedback on store and product designs that is then used to further develop and refine retail environments. “We can bring focus groups in, see what they like, what they don’t, and make changes within a week and present it,” said Sinisi of how the technology ignites speed to market. Departments or products can also be “virtually” moved to determine best placement.

There is also a working salon in the corporate office — the Consumer Beauty Lab — complete with vanities and hair washing stations where consumers are invited to try out L’Oréal products before they hit the market in exchange for their feedback on performance. And there is an employee retail store, which on a recent visit was brimming with people buying from the company’s more than 30 brands.