Chicago Merchandise Mart's reorganized Design Center opens
Casual Living Staff -- Casual Living, March 27, 2013
CHICAGO - The Merchandise Mart celebrated the opening of the Design Center's redesign on Feb. 27, which attracted hundreds of designers, architects and industry executives to the new and improved facility.
Since early 2012, more than 65 residential home and outdoor furnishings tenants were relocated from floors 15, 16, 17 and 18 into new spaces on the 14th floor, which now exclusively houses residential tenants, as well as the 15th and 16th floors, which are dedicated to casual/outdoor tenants. The redesign has improved the Merchandise Mart shopping experience by creating a more concentrated, easily navigable showcase of the top names in outdoor furnishings for buyers during the annual International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market and the trade that show the Design Center on a daily basis.
"The relocation of more than 20 showrooms and extensive floor renovations couldn't have gone smoother and we're thrilled with the final result," said John H. Brennen III, executive vice president, MMPI. "We're excited to welcome the attendees to the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in September and provide an improved venue for showcasing our casual furnishings offerings."
Notable Chicago design firm Gary Lee Partners redesigned the corridors of the 15th floor, creating a contemporary design with an open feel that highlights the casual tenants. The relocated tenants will also be featuring new showroom and product presentations.
"From a customer experience point of view, it gives every brand director an opportunity to do something new and something fresh in their showroom presentations," said Nick Powell, global brand director, Gloster. "If there is something fresh to see, it will bring more people into the mart."
Panama Jack Outdoor
In regards to the reconfiguration and dedicated casual industry within the Design Center, Steve Lowsky, president of Pride Family Brands, said, "It will absolutely be more efficient, more cohesive."
"It's going to be a better experience for both buyers and manufacturers, easier to explore the show and go from showroom to showroom now that we're all consolidated to the 15-16th floors," said Henry Vanderminden IV, president, Telescope Casual Furniture. "There's much more furniture synergy between showrooms and I'm sure we will also feel the electricity and see the buzz during shows."
The daylong relaunch event on Wednesday, Feb. 27, featured special events including book signings, guest speakers and new product introductions. Attendees were also the first to shop new outdoor furnishings tenants Mamagreen and Panama Jack Outdoor.
The 14th floor renovation included the construction of a designer amenity center, Lounge 1447, which features a well-appointed conference area, lounge, café and audio/visual display. Gary Lee Partners designed and curated Lounge 1447 as an office-away-from-the-office for the many designers, architects, guests and showroom personnel who do business in the Design Center. Lounge 1447 is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and has a full-time concierge on site.
"MMPI has consistently grown and expanded the casual industry over the years," Brennen said. "We remain committed to our permanent showroom business and the Casual Market and look forward to welcoming buyers, designers and architects to the building."