In living color
Krueck & Sexton develops a dramatic new Chicago showroom for Herman Miller.
Linas Alsenas -- Interior Design, 8/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Herman Miller's new Chicago showroom made a rather colorful debut at NeoCon this year. Located on the third floor of Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the 25,000-sq.-ft. venue relied on a dramatic lighting effects program to achieve memorable product displays. Designer Mark Sexton of Krueck & Sexton admits that even the lights in the corridor outside the showroom windows were darkened to heighten the theatrical impact of spotlighted products within.
The showroom's design process started in October when Sexton began collaborating with a small group from Herman Miller, led by Rick Duffy, to dream up display concepts for NeoCon. In developing a flexible space for changing product displays, the team opted for a simple backdrop of white-painted walls and light-colored flooring. Neutrality, however, would not suffice. Colored lights flood the space with warm hues to generate a sense of dynamism and extend the "perceived depth of field." As visitors make their way toward the back, the intense colors soften to defer attention to the products on display. Sexton notes that this design strategy easily accommodates shifting tastes and constant product turnover. "This year we used hot reds, oranges, and pinks. But you never know, next year may be very cool."
The real scene-stealer, however, was the glowing "immersion wall," a giant, horizontal monitor framed in sandblasted glass. Sexton describes the video wall as a "source of visual energy" that allows visitors to peruse a virtual library of Herman Miller product systems from any of three control points. "The space was designed to be hospitable, a place of human interaction with technology—but without having the technology override it," explains Sexton, who is currently working on taking the ideas developed here to showrooms in New York and Los Angeles.
Throughout, an emphasis on openness and transparency was underscored by the incorporation of glass and minimal use of detail. A flat-screen monitor centered within a milky-white glass cabinet projects many of the qualities Sexton wanted the space to achieve: "It should be something floating, light, delicate, and effortless." And a little bit dramatic, of course.