Classic Design Evolved

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.


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