12/7/1979 – ‘Meet Ken Phillips – start him designing stained glass for bldg.’

Historical information provided by The Jim Henson Company Archivist:

The success of The Muppet Show meant that Jim could move his company into larger quarters. He purchased a 1929 double townhouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and set about renovating and decorating it. As a visual artist, Jim had a strong design sense and took extra care with the furnishings and decorations for his new location. The centerpiece of the building was a large spiral staircase that wound up from the lobby to the third floor where Jim had his office. Before the days of texting and emails, Jim saw the staircase as a vertical telephone – simply by leaning over the railing and calling up or down, it was easy to communicate with his staff.

The lobby’s floor was inlaid with marble and the company’s “ha!” (Henson Associates) logo. The woodwork was painted in two tones and matched a custom-made carpet. Circular desks were designed to mimic the curve of the stairs, and large photo murals were mounted on the landings. The furnishings included unique hand-made pieces that Jim discovered in craft galleries. The crowning elements were exquisitely designed stained glass expanses used as a fanlight in the entry way and as a skylight above the central staircase. These were designed by George W. Morris of the K.M. Phillips Studio in Pittsburgh with input from Henson art director Michael Frith. The skylight featured a view of the sky through the trees meant to evoke what Kermit might see looking straight up from his lily pad. The fanlight featured Kermit himself plucking his banjo. Jim was so pleased that he used the Kermit image for his company holiday card.

The 1980 Henson Company holiday card featuring Kermit in stained glass from the K.M. Phillips Studio.

Inlaid marble floor featuring the Henson Associates logo at the company headquarters in New York. Photo by John E. Barrett.

Stained glass skylight featuring a view from Kermit’s lily pad. Photo by John E. Barrett.

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