Classic Design Evolved

“Conversations” is everything related to the design world but specific to the story that we share in this community. Our updates will bring a fresh perspective that will spark a conversation between you and us to create a better market place for your clients.


Ground Hog Day Revisited

Welcome to deAurora

Welcome to deAurora

Imagine you wake up to find yourself living the day over and over again.  Well life at deAurora has felt a lot like that over the past 2 years.

Remodeling began on space 1871 in February of 2011 that would begin the Re-Imagined deAurora.  Since then we have begun to create our new world which continues to evolve on 14.

A year to the day from signing the lease extension for space 1871, we were advised that we would be moving to the new 14th floor ( see Big Move Facts ).

Its a blessing, not a curse

Moving to 14 allowed us to accelerate our evolution.  We are proud to present a view of center roomthe design world that speaks to Small to Mid-size American designs.

Bausman — Randolph and Hein —- Kindel — Scott  Arthur Yerkey

Hart Associates — Hammerton



We are not a remake of anyone or any one line.  After 34 years we have feel for a New Classic.



Update From The Front

The Big Move inches closer.  Every showroom has now been given a date to move which is set to begin on November 5.  You might think this is a political ploy to skew the vote, but since the party scheduling the move is a staunch independent, I am eschewing any conspiracy theories.

A View To Remember

So the halls are starting to take shape.  As you can see from the photo the corridor will be engulfed in a crisp light bringing the halls to life.  Each column on the north and south columns  on the outer sides will have light elements (think  Star Wars) that race across the ceiling.

Just Outside the NEW deAurora

All the showrooms are to have 9ft glass store fronts.  Exceptions will include Miss Holly, and a couple of others.  But frankly, the clean element of the corridor will allow the showrooms to tell their story in greater detail.  The resources themselves will speak with more volume since the visual will be cleaner.

Our new space is now officially #1499.  I tell you that because it signals a conclusion to the showrooms if I do say so myself an exclamation point to what will be one of the best showroom experiences in the building.

A View From Within

Our date to move is November 6th.  I picked this auspicious date because I wanted everyone to remember we moved on election day.  No matter what, we will move forward from here.

We will post a few more shots before the page turns.  In the mean time if you have any questions give us a shout.  Samples are still available before the move and can be seen on our website Deaurora.

Looking Forward/Ahead

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

standing in the resource area looking south

How is it going you ask…. Our scheduled move date is November 15, but given the yin and yang that is our life (it’s too dark, it’s too light, this one has a little star), I estimate that Christmas 2012 is a realistic date. Here is a view of the work in progress. As I post this I can tell you that none of my closest neighbors (Century or CAI) have even begun construction.

This post is a week late, and so the new pictures would show all walls framed out and for the most part drywall is up. But lets face it, in the design world its all about the details.

Southeast corner looking Northwest

Some of the elements to look for include:

  • A complete resource area for lighting and chairs.
  • 600 sf of exquisite and exclusive fabric.
  • Internet kiosks to define and refine your search.

The Western Wall

The “Big Move” Facts

Here are the basic facts regarding the up coming consolidation of the Design Center in the Merchandise Mart.

What’s Happening Around Here

  • All residential furnishing showrooms on 15, 16, 17 and 18 will be relocated to the NEW 14th Floor.
  • The 14th Floor footprint will be based on the current 18th floor.  Anchor tenants will be  in the same place on 14 as they are now on 18 (e.g. deAurora, Holly Hunt, Dessin Fournir, Southerland).
  • To fit the roughly 400,000 sq ft into 250,000 sq ft most showrooms will be reduced in size.  Very few will be leaving the mart.  deAurora will be expanding.
  • All gift showrooms will be on the 13th floor
  • All casual showrooms will be on 15 and half of 16

What’s In It For Me

  • The 14th floor will have its own Cafe and conference center. (deAurora will still have its private stock in the back).
  • The corridors will have a fresh design created by Gary Lee Partners.
  • The consolidation will mean more resources are one floor.  Which translates into an easier shopping experience for you and your clients.

Why…Though Rarely a Helpful Question..

The easy answer is “follow the money”, but here are the underpinnings of the relocation.

  • Chris Kennedy’s departure MMPI in June of 2011 signaled an end to an era that promoted design and fine art as a business focus.  The parent company, Vornado, moved quickly to build a more profitable piece of property.
  • The design center element was not pulling its wait; the affects of the “Recession” could be seen with the many closings with the showroom floors.  Those closings came years after many tenants had fallen behind in rent.
  • You can search this on GOOGLE.  Vornado’s efforts to transform the Mart from show space to office space is evident in its very stealthy acquisition of Google/Motorola as its premier tenant.
  • Google/ Motorola is taking the 17th 18th and 19th floors.  It will be using the roof  as part of its venue.

These are the facts and nothing but the facts.  The truth is that this didn’t just spring from no where. Deals like this don’t just happen.  deAurora was informed about the relocation in mid April, along with the 3 other “anchor tenants”.  The rest of the tenants were told once Holly Hunt was secured and the rest of the anchors had been told to insure what space would be available.

The last boat out.

When is this Happening

  • The  14th floor is already being demolished.
  • Move in to the 14th floor will take place over a 5 week period starting 10/15/12
  • deAurora’s  move-in date is set for 11/15/12.
  • Dates are flexible but only within that 5 week period.  We can move earlier not later.

Other Fun facts:

  •  We were told of the move on the 1 year anniversary of our signing a new lease and completeion of our revitalizing build-out.
  • 1871, the new digital incubator on the 12th floor occupies the same space as the original deAurora space 12-131.
  • The hot digital marketing company, Razorfish, occupies are second location on the 12th floor 1230.
  • In its recent past the Mart was hoem to other large office tenants; CTA, Quaker Oats, World Book, Canteen Corporation, and Bankers Life

See you Soon

Google/Mobility’s Effect On Our Species

The Finch is the essential example of evolution.  Darwin would  probably cringe if he new how we were using his evolutionary example of survival.  Survival of the fittest is often used in the context of the individual but evolutionary movement has to do with the entire species.

To be fit in Darwin’s world is not to be the strongest, smartest, most skilled, least fat or the best designer.  It is the ability to adapt that makes one fit.  To work with what you got to get your species to survive and grow.  In the design industry that equates to more than prospering.  Its equates to creating functional aesthetics that pushes the human condition forward.

Darwin’s Finches

As Google/Mobility moves into the Merchandise Mart its important for us in the design industry to remember its not an assault on the individual.  Its not an assault on us at all.  Its a signal to the design industry to get on-board the future-train or parish.

The Mart has a long history of having large companies inhabit its domain.  These include past cutting edge information companies;  The World Book, was at one time the third largest lease holder in the building ( the CTA and Quaker Oats were one and two).  Google represents just the latest cycle of movement within the Mart.  So what does this mean to the new consolidated Design Center.

In Darwin’s example of the Finch,  it was the simple fact that only one species had a long enough beak to get food, during an extended drought.  This enabled it to survive and reproduce.  In the Mart today the way business is transacted requires the same use of adaptive skills.  I won’t make any jokes about longer beaks, but for sure we need to recognize what skills we have to get us through this drought in order to grow.  The reason for the retrenching of space in the Mart is that we over grew what could sustain us.  Its a natural market process, but to move forward requires some basic use of the tools we have.

Use the internet:  Showoff the products that you will find in the mart. Not just new designs…Show ’em what you got, not what you might have.  For example see

Use your clients Stuff:  Partner with clients to showoff their talents and your product.  For example see

Use your space:  the Mart is a party waiting to happen.  Invite your guests early and often like a good voting record to see how they can best use your products.  For example:  You are cordially invited to check us out 24/7 365, as long as its between 9-5 Monday through Friday.

Coming soon a view of the new space on the 14th floor.  If you have questions regarding this blog, or simply want to know more about Darwin and Finches, come in and chat with us, or contact us through the web at, or call us at 312-644-4430.


Lastly I would like to thank Bob Killian  (Killian Branding) for his brillant white paper on adaption.  See more of his work at

The Evolution To Come…Happy Independence Day

Every scientist would tell you that it’s impossible to predict evolution. We in the design industry are really good at spotting trends or even creating them but the evolution of design? Not so much. But what I am about to lay out for you is, in fact, an evolutionary move of the design industry. The Chicago design community is simply the next step along a path that has begun in other large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston. It’s important to recognize what is in store for us in the future and jump onboard for the greater good.

What I am referring to is the impending consolidation of the Merchandise Mart Design Center to two floors. Before I go on, here are the basic facts regarding the move. All residential furniture showrooms on 15, 16, 17, and 18 will be moved to the 14th floor. The template for the new 14th floor is based on the current 18th floor tenants. Tenants from other floors will be moved in to spaces as they fit, based on size and availability. Demolition of the 14th floor has already begun. Move in will begin around 10/15/12 and be finished by 11/30/12. Those are the facts.

Now I know you have questions; some are concerned, and some of you may even be angered by these events, but fear not. The bottom line is that the design experience in the Mart has just gotten better. All of the resources that have been available to you and more will now be on two floors. Half empty floors are a thing of the past, allowing you to find your resources faster without jumping from floor to floor. It’s a better experience for your clients as well, since roaming through the cavernous half empty floors often leaves your customer feeling as if this is a dead industry. It’s far from dead—it’s evolving to a new life form.

In other design centers around the country there is simply a move of Vendors and Independent rep showrooms to leave their buildings and open on the street. Creating a less than optimal experience for designers and clients. More importantly it signals a change in the industry. A true indication of shift in how business is being conducted…or not conducted. The survival of the design centers and that of the design industry is at stake. By consolidating the design resources in the Merchandise Mart, we have taken a step towards long term survival. When shared-interest industries (e.g jewelers or furriers) cease to work in close proximity, they lose the shared benefit of similar clients and economies of resources. Don’t misunderstand, this relocation effort was not done to promote the design community. But like many evolutionary moments, the intentions of one action lead to an effect on a completely different group. The Mart’s owners want to reduce its exposure in the design center and bring in better paying office tenants (in this case Google) to raise its profits.

But rejoice, our future is brighter because we are forced to move on. This is not an exodus, it’s an opportunity to create a better standard for design centers across the U.S.  Chicago remains the only single source design center. It is a leader in how good business can be conducted in the design industry by consolidating and not forcing vendors to fend for themselves. The corridors will be refurbished, a cafe for refreshment and conference center for continued education is being added—all to create a better designer experience.

Coming soon we will post our new space design, followed by updates to the construction of our new home. In the meantime, if you have any questions….drop us a note, give us a call or simply stop by. We will be glad to share more of the story.

All Good Things Start With ….K

Now at deAurora

Welcome Theodore Alexander

Tapping the inspiration of  the Keno brothers, Theodore Alexander has created a masterpiece in mid-century modern décor. Twin brothers Leigh and Leslie Keno, television’s most recognized furniture appraisers and authorities on antiques, have designed a unique collection of classically modern furniture.

The Kenos’ focus on quality, adaptability and approachability beautifully complement the realities of contemporary living with a level of craftsmanship rarely seen today.

Inspired by a love of antiques and a passion for sculpture and rare objects, their designs distill the best ideas of earlier periods and recast them for the way we live now. Incorporating premium woods, sinuous curves, beautiful finishes and built-in functionality, their goal is to create the heirlooms of tomorrow.

The BombéKeno Bros Collection Cascade I

Kindel Furniture

Did you know…Kindel Furniture is one of the last of the great American furniture manufactures to produce its complete line in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Grand Rapids was one of the largest producers of furniture in world up until the mid 90s.  Only Kindel remains as a true American story. As part of the deAurora commitment to invest in local resources we are proud to announce Kindel Furniture as part of the deAurora family.

Drawing from its history of superb craftsmanship Kindel created the HB Home Collection. The HB Home Collection was designed in collaboration with the high end, interior design firm, HB Home, based in Westport, Connecticut. The Collection centers on the design aesthetic of the two founders of HB Home, Pat Healing and Dan Barsanti. The woods used are primarily White Oak, and the new cerused finishes beautifully accentuate the grain and character of the wood.

The HB Home Collection is based on the use of classic forms that are “tried and true with a twist,” notes Patricia Healing. The designs offer fresh changes to solid forms with lighter woods, changing scale and modifications of how and where pieces are used in the home..

Colby Rectangular Dining Table and Serafina Side ChairHB Home Collection