Nine to Five

Designer John Oetgen imbues his Buckhead work space with art, antiques and personal objects.

Pinned with dozens of photos and prints, the folding screen set before designer John Oetgen’s drawing table offers a snapshot of his office at 2300 Peachtree Road: It’s filled with the things he loves. But Oetgen takes the parallel one step further. “It sort of tells the story of my life,” he says. “It’s full of things I’ve done and places I’ve been. The pair of tigers I found in the window of a print shop in Paris. There are images of many of the different artists that I love, there’s a fabulous card from the opening of a Giacometti exhibit, invites from galleries, even a simple postcard from Balthazar in New York—where they make the most amazing lattes in the world!”

The space, where the designer has based himself for 25 years, is in many ways as comfortable as a personal residence. Guests are welcomed into a reception area where a cozy sitting spot is arranged before the front window; from the period 18th-century chair, set next to a Parisian screen and Chinese tea table, one can admire the view across the room of a Deco chest by Leleu that Oetgen has had “forever.” Here, too, is the “presentation area,” which comprises a marble-topped table surrounded by Mies van der Rohe chairs plus a pair of massive, magnetized pin-up boards.

Through a pair of black double doors—which remind Oetgen of Old Hollywood—visitors instantly gain more insight into this multi-talented designer. On one wall of the area he dubs the “scheming room” are two of his own photos, their large dimensions indicative of their dramatic impact. By intention, the photography provides some of the few pops of color in the room; the otherwise neutral space, flooded with natural light, is the perfect backdrop for working with clients’ color schemes.

And around the corner is the aforementioned drawing table, in a bright red that the designer likes for its warmth and intensity. “For some reason I like it in contrast with the paper,” Oetgen explains, referring both to the pinned-up pieces and the paper he uses for rendering floor plans and elevations.

In all, this office is a well-thought-out space that oozes great taste—just like the homes Oetgen creates for his clients.

Taking found pieces from our environment and marrying them to exotic places and unusual contexts, John Oetgen’s photographs of colorful, ordinary objects recall both pop art and the surrealists. His work will be on exhibit at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery from September 6 through October 15, alongside the works of photographer Martin Parr. For more information, go to


INTERIOR DESIGN John Oetgen, Oetgen Design. 2300 Peachtree Road, Suite B-208, Atlanta 30309. (404) 352-1112;