Michael Hsu Office of Architecture crafts a materially rich interior that builds on Hill Country tradition

Urban Oasis

Founded in 1954 out of a two-car garage in the Texas Hill Country, James Avery Artisan Jewelry now operates over 100 stores across four states. To house the company’s growing workforce, James Avery tapped Michael Hsu Office of Architecture to design an urban office in Austin reminiscent of its Hill Country campus in Kerrville, Texas. The Artisan at James Avery is a 38,000-square-foot, mixed-use development that supports 350 James Avery employees, a retail store, and additional office space for lease. The hybrid steel and CLT structure is built from warm, natural materials while capitalizing upon the site’s generous tree canopy to create an urban work environment rooted in the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Landscape by Lionheart Places helps the campus feel secluded within its context in Cedar Park, north of Austin. (Chase Daniel)

“The Artisan at James Avery has a more comfortable, residential feel than is expected in a workplace,” Hsu told AN Interior. “It encourages togetherness and organic collaboration in a space designed for their team to fall in love with.” While “resimercial” design has been used to coax employees back into the office since the easing of the pandemic, the brand’s Texas heritage inspired the space’s modern, ranch-like aesthetic.

Within a ground level clad in limestone, a showpiece stair is the focal point of the double-height lobby. (Chase Daniel)

Portions of the steel structure are left exposed behind a storefront glazing system painted warm red. (Chase Daniel)

The building is clad in local limestone. Upon entry, a statement stair is the focal point of the double-height atrium. Its cladding is the same patinaed, perforated steel panels that protect the building’s second-floor sun porch. In tandem with the floor-to-ceiling window treatments found in a number of communal spaces, the design brings the outside in through a generous and varied array of plant life. The larger of these leafy specimens are potted in bulbous, black ceramic vases which complement the structure’s exposed, painted steel columns and beams while contrasting the predominantly neutral interior applications.

Quiet millwork is offset by a terrazzo-like counter and backsplash. (Chase Daniel)

(Chase Daniel)

Local timber is utilized in many formats: Wood is shaped into slats for ceilings, boards for flooring, solid pieces for furnishings, and custom-carved expressions for a sculptural, undulating banquette. In close competition with the bold, terracotta–colored terrazzo that extends from the kitchen counter and up the backsplash, the curving banquette might be considered the most impressive feat within the office interior. Plush, camel-colored leather cushions that hearken back to the brand’s Hill Country roots invite casual lounging, group conversations, or dining. The organic shape, which doubles as a screen to the kitchen and break area, as well as the mixture of metals used throughout the project, pay homage to expressive nature of James Avery’s jewelry designs.

The slatted ceiling warms up the interior, which features warm metal accents and ample casual seating. (Chase Daniel)

The building’s narrow plan allows appreciable daylight and views to the surrounding North Austin landscape. Together with an outdoor plaza, reflecting garden, and series of walking trails about the property, Hsu’s design creates an urban oasis of both productivity and respite that captures the brand’s bucolic heritage.