This is Work?

If your immediate association with the word office is dull, check out the vibrant, high-ceilinged space at Smith Design in Glen Ridge, where the décor is a riot of memorabilia.

If your immediate association with the word office is dull, check out the vibrant, high-ceilinged space at Smith Design in Glen Ridge, where the décor is a riot of memorabilia. The walls are adorned with original posters for movies such as the 1956 Jayne Mansfield musical comedy The Girl Can’t Help It, and illuminated movie marquees announce the arrival of the Beatles.

James Smith, a partner in the brand- and package-design firm that he started in 1978, got the marquees from the 1926 rococo-style Royal Theater in Bloomfield, which closed in 1998. He amassed most of the rest of his collection by shopping on eBay and attending the occasional antiques sale.

“We’ve all worked in the chrome-and-leather areas of business where you have to look a certain way and act a certain way,” says Smith, a longtime collector of rock-and-roll memorabilia. “We’ve all played that game, and I think this game is a lot more fun.”

Different areas of the two-story building, dating from around 1917, feature nostalgic themes ranging from ice cream ads to the Twist. Old Elvis song sheets are framed and hung in a row. Five jukeboxes are on display.

Glenn Hagen, director of design, sometimes fields impressed comments from mail carriers, and occasional passersby stop in because they think the place is a bar. The décor inspires creativity, Hagen says. “On a trip down to the kitchen or up to the printer, I see stuff that’s cool to me as a designer.”

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