Civilian painted the „grandeur” of early cinemas for the offices of Sandbox Films

New York studio Civilian has designed a headquarters for a documentary production company in Manhattan's Flatiron district, featuring an Art Deco-influenced screening room.

Award winning offices Sandbox movies Housed in a 1920s neo-Gothic high-rise, they provide the company with its first dedicated workspace.

Office reception with meeting room visible through glass and mint green sliding doors
The civilian interiors of the Sandbox Films offices draw on many references, from old theaters to the colors used by Danish modernist Paul Henningsen.

Spread over 4,200 square feet (390 square meters), the project includes an open-plan reception area that doubles as an event space, a conference room, private and open offices, and production and editing rooms.

There is also a 22-seat screening room with a Dolby Atmos sound system, where the team and their audience can preview cuts that have been completed or are in progress.

A custom, double-sided sofa upholstered in velvet and boucle fabricA custom, double-sided sofa upholstered in velvet and boucle fabric
In the center of the reception area is a double sided sofa upholstered in velvet and boucle fabrics.

The non-profit documentary production company produces cinematic science films, many of which have been or have been nominated for prestigious awards.

Among them are Fire of Love, nominated for Best Documentary at the 95th Academy Awards in 2022; Emmy-winning Bathom; Sundance winner All Light, Anywhere; and Fireball, co-directed by Werner Herzog.

A meeting room with a desk with gray legs and a white lacquered topA meeting room with a desk with gray legs and a white lacquered top
Another custom design is the meeting room table, which has gray legs and a white lacquer top

„Impressed [our] The space was informed by the clientele's love for the craft of storytelling, the opulent but intimate early movie houses of Stockholm and Amsterdam, Art Deco cinemas, the architectural color gestures of Danish modernist designer Paul Henningsen, and the grandeur of a vanished world. Said by the Broadway address of the Interwar New York project Citizen.

The reception area wraps around a circular stone-topped bar that defines the staff pantry area by day and can be used to serve food and drinks for events.

A sculptural side table with a pair of swivel Milo Bogman chairsA sculptural side table with a pair of swivel Milo Bogman chairs
Vintage pieces picked up for the space include a pair of swiveling Milo Bogman chairs

„With an active roster of screenings, events and residency programs for independent filmmakers, the space serves as an office and center of attraction for New York's nonfiction film community,” the group said.

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A custom double-sided, Pierre Chareau-inspired boucle and velvet sofa sits opposite a pair of refined Milo Boughman swivel chairs.

Bar and pantry area with plaster walls and oak millworkBar and pantry area with plaster walls and oak millwork
A bar area in the reception serves as a pantry during the day and is used to host events in the evening

Marquee lights are installed in rows to the sides of the existing ceiling beams, and additional sconces are mounted on the plastered pantry wall.

The structural columns are covered with travertine cladding to highlight the entrances between the different spaces.

Swivel chairs in front of the periwinkle blue divider, movie posters behindSwivel chairs in front of the periwinkle blue divider, movie posters behind
Wood paneling and movie posters return to Art Deco theaters

On either side of the reception, glass panels and acoustic partitions with mint-green frames surround a bright conference room and a private office.

Anchoring the conference room is a custom-made meeting table with a solid gray frame and high-gloss curved lacquer top, flanked by vintage Tobia Scarpa sling chairs.

A communal workspace, vertical tables, oak dividers and plenty of ledges for plantsA communal workspace, vertical tables, oak dividers and plenty of ledges for plants
A communal workspace has sit-stand desks, oak dividers and plenty of ledges for plants.

From the living room, a neon-lit burgundy door leads into the screening room, where three tiers of seats face a screen as large as a mini movie theater.

Cushioned seats are upholstered in soft powder-blue fabric, which contrasts with walnut wainscoting and sound-absorbing brown wool wall panels.

Each chair has a separate armrest table for placing drinks or writing notes, complete with a small light created in collaboration with Lambert et Fils.

Also private offices, sound-proof editing rooms and an open workspace are accessed via a narrow L-shaped corridor.

22-seat screening room with three tiers of seats22-seat screening room with three tiers of seats
A 22-seat screening room allows the team and their audience to preview documentaries

In the communal work area, sit-stand tables have white oak divider panels and are topped with a stone edge for displaying objects and plants.

„This project, from its iconic Broadway location to historic theater architecture, has given us the opportunity to create an elevated and layered space that supports Sandbox's work to elevate documentary talent, drawing from many inspiring references,” said Civilian Go. – Founder Ksenia Gagner.

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Screening room chairs with separate armrest tablesScreening room chairs with separate armrest tables
Screening rooms feature a Dolby Atmos sound system, and chairs with individual armrest tables for drinks or note-taking.

„We felt it was important to respond to the changing priorities of the modern workplace by creating open, multi-purpose spaces that foster interaction and foster a sense of community,” he added.

Civilian was founded in 2018 by Kagner and Nicko Elliott, and the designers have completed projects ranging from transforming Detroit's historic Book Depository into the headquarters of tech company Newlab to renovating a historic Bed-Stuy townhouse.

Photographer Chris Motalini.


Project Credits:

Customer: Sandbox Movies (Simons Foundation)
Customer Representative: Cushman and Wakefield
Civic Purpose: Interior design, creative direction, furniture design
Architect of record: LP Architects
Mechanical Engineer: WB Engineers
AV Engineer: Spectrum
Acoustic Engineer: WSDG
Production Studio Consultant: Tom Paul
Contractor: L&K Partners

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