Cheryl Hamilton-Gray, CKD, principal of Carlsbad, CA-based Hamilton-Gray Design, has a history of showroom design in her portfolio. The Riggs Distributing appliance showroom in Burlingame, CA presented her an opportunity to expand her experience.
"The property had previously been a chocolate factory, so extensive remodeling was required to convert it to serve the firm's function," says Hamilton-Gray. "The company had outgrown its leased property and had the intention of utilizing the new building for the head office, showroom, training center and warehousing of product."
For this type of showroom, Hamilton-Gray was sought out for her ability to create a particular kind of design.
"Having had previous showroom design experience, I had been asked to help this same company with the design of a showroom in Hawaii," she says. "This was very successful, but a lot of lessons were learned in accommodating demo kitchen needs, so they got me on board early in the planning stages to develop this flagship showroom."
The market that the showroom serves is architects, designers, specifiers, appliance dealers, appliance representatives for training and the public for training on appliances by appointment, according to Hamilton-Gray.
"With the nature of this market we decided to devote two large areas to accommodate live kitchen demonstrations, accommodating 12 participants each," she continues.
Both demo kitchens are serviced by two commercial prep kitchens for wash-up and food preparation.
"We did extensive research nationwide in similar showrooms to determine the need for a fully equipped prep kitchen," says Hamilton-Gray.
The workability of this type of design was the key concern. Appliances are housed in laminate wood casework, with the ability to change out models economically. A cave-like wine grotto showcases wine refrigeration products, while a large bar showcases bar appliances and provides an entertaining area for visitors to the showroom.
Cross-Continental & Custom
Branding of a product is often done by design professionals as an afterthought. However, for Henrybuilt, it was the impetus for opening a design showroom in the first place.
Lisa Day, director of marketing and public relations for Seattle-based Henrybuilt, says the company started out as a custom contemporary kitchen builder. The successful expansion of its product branding has led the company to expand into a total home division.
"In 2008, we launched Henrybuilt Whole House, expanding our product line to include storage systems for the entire home," says Day.
Henrybuilt opened for business in 2001 and opened the doors to its first showroom in Seattle in 2002.
"In 2008, we moved to a larger space a few doors down," she reports. The new space, she says, is a perfect fit. "It's a great corner location on Western Avenue in the center of Seattle's design district."
Both the Seattle and New York locations display the company's signature contemporary, spare and wide-open style. "The space really lets the products take center stage," Day says.
Updating the showroom is a top priority, although Day concedes it would be impossible to show everything the company's designers are capable of creating.