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Designers’ Touch on Newly Renovated Campus Commons

There’s a sense of new and déjà vu for students in the Campus Commons at Moore. The space has been updated with new furniture, lighting and carpeting, while retaining the same famous design names.

The paper George Nelson saucer, ball and cigar lamps hanging in Fox Commons have been replaced with longer-lasting plastic versions. Gray carpeting with a bubble texture has supplanted the former purple floor covering, and there are new Harry Bertoia Diamond and Bird Lounge chairs in electric blue and lime green, paired with red and black modular sofas. The beautiful furniture is set off by dark gray walls in Fox Commons.

“All of this was the handiwork of a Moore alum, Karen Daroff, who is an internationally known designer,” said William Hill, Moore’s senior vice president for finance and administration. Interior designer Frances Graham ‘66, chair of the board of trustees, along with Board of Managers member and interior designer Keith Straw, worked with Daroff Design on the final choices for the space.

“They get the actual designer, classic designs, made by these folks,” he said. “That’s why everything looks so nice around here.”

Francine Martini, chair of the Interior Design Department, said Moore has a number of terrific classic pieces, including Eero Saarinen tables in the Dining Hall, and vintage circular coffee tables designed by Charles and Ray Eames and made by Herman Miller. The 1952 Nelson lamps are part of the Herman Miller collection.

“George Nelson was an architect and product designer from America and one of those who forwarded American Modernism,” she said. “There are some who say he was the one who developed the idea of a ‘family room,’ which might be interesting, given his lamps are now in our Fox Commons room.”

Several of the round Saarinen dining tables were replaced in the Dining Hall, and rectangular tables were added to create more seating and allow larger groups of people to gather.

“They’re beautiful, timeless and they really last,” Hill said.

New high rectangular tables with bar stools that provide lunch and work space are now situated next to the windows in Fox Commons, and there are plans to add a stainless steel counter with bar stools along the windows overlooking the courtyard off the Dining Hall. Hill says the counter will have outlets for students to be able to plug in phones and laptops.

The renovation of the Dining Hall and Fox Commons was one unified project. Hill said the last time the Campus Commons area was renovated was the year 2000.

“When we did the Dining Hall and the pass-through between the two buildings, the concept was to increase the amount of usage that we get out of Fox Commons,” he said. “This refresh was long overdue to honor Penny and Bob Fox’s name.”

The renovation also included the addition of a fireplace and lounge area near the Dining Hall named Jane’s Corner, for Board of Trustees member Jane Walentas ‘66; a drawing wall on which students can express their creativity; and a grab-and-go café.

Hill said the old furniture has not been thrown out – the chairs are being rehabbed and will be used in the Connelly Library, which is set to be revamped in 2018.

Published on January 5th, 2018