NEW YORK, NY— At Davis & Warshow, general manager Sheldon Malc believes that if you re-build it, they will come. And the greener you build it, the better, he notes.
While the popular New York City showroom has served as a resource to design professionals for a quarter of a century, a dramatic remodel and expansion has upped the ante.
The 58th Street showroom – a space meant to cater to contractors, designers, builders and remodelers – is now bigger and better than ever, with a dual-focus design and a greener profile, according to Malc.
Following a company-wide sustainability initiative, “Practically Green,” the showroom incorporates green design and construction features such as low-VOC paints and coatings, FSC-certified woods, locally sourced materials and fabrication and high-efficiency/low consumption lighting, Malc reports.
The firm commissioned Emanuela Frattini Magnusson, AIA, LEED of New York, NY-based EFM Design & Architecture, who transformed the 3,600-sq.-ft. space into an inviting environment that now boasts some 150 brands displayed across more than 7,500 square feet of space.
Magnusson constructed “Phase One” of the showroom; design staff from the WI-based Kohler Co. designed “Phase Two,” which features lines by Kohler and Kallista.
“When we did ‘Phase One,’ it was designed as a plumbing showroom, but [we also wanted] to give the effect of an art gallery,” says Malc. “Kohler wanted the other half of the showroom to follow suit so that the showroom would flow together and there would be a definite ‘wow’ factor for designers.”
Magnusson says: “The challenge was to design a space that could adapt and grow with the vast array of collections. The idea is that a customer won’t have to fight through 20 vignettes to find one specific faucet. However, you still have an array of products in front of you.”
She adds: “This design also needed to properly reflect the status that kitchens and baths have ascended to in current culture.”
Magnusson’s vision was unveiled at the recent grand opening, which drew 170 design professionals – including Davis & Warshow president David Finkel and Kohler president and COO David Kohler.
A Functional Layout
While the “Phase One” space offers a definite sense of whimsy and serenity, it’s much more. To maximize functionality, Magnusson divided up the space by product category to simplify the selection process. This also helps visitors compare different features, since the showroom offers a diversity of product lines. These include Duravit, Dornbracht Americas, Wetstyle, BainUltra, Lacava, Vitraform, Rohl, Gessi USA and THG USA, among others.
She adds: “We spent weeks cataloging products [for] the display units. That was definitely the most challenging part.”
A back area of the showroom is dedicated to larger-scale pieces, such as the freestanding bathtubs and vanities.
The “Phase Two” section of the showroom, which features product suites from Kohler and Kallista, represents a direct complement to Magnusson’s layout.
“The architectural shell that we had designed for ‘Phase One,’ particularly in terms of finishes and lighting systems, was continued [for this second section] in conjunction with the Kohler team of designers,” she says. “They designed the layout specifically for their own product lines, and together, we looked at it to make sure [there was a sense of connection between] the two spaces.”
“We really addressed the key issue, which was that there was such an overwhelming amount of product to search through in the space. Originally, the customer experience was extremely confusing,” Magnusson adds.
She states: “In the end, there are certain design requirements that are really objective and functional, and others that are more personal because every designer comes from a different place. All these factors make for what become your layout choices.
“This design just happens to be what I thought was the right solution for the challenges that were presented – and I believe the design makes sense for the clients,” she concludes.