Chicago— Moving into an established marketplace can be an anxiety-filled experience. However, the team at The Design Resource Center faced this challenge head-on by opening its new showroom in the established setting of LuxeHome, situated on the first floor in the famed Merchandise Mart in the heart of Chicago.
The Design Resource Center’s new location provides clients – which include high-end designers, architects, builders and consumers – with an abundance of high-end products to choose from. Danny Fitzgerald, of Fitzgerald Earles Architect in Chicago, designed the approximately 7,000-sq.-ft. space, with Richard Kintigh acting as project manager.
“By relocating The Design Resource Center, we were able to keep what was successful and improve upon it,” notes Fitzgerald.
The space was completely gutted, according to Fitzgerald, and each product selection center was refreshed. Some display areas were increased in size to better showcase the full range of product offerings.
The showroom’s design incorporates 24'-high ceilings, five large exterior windows that help to illuminate the space, a Miele coffee station for all visitors and Wi-Fi access for guests with laptops.
Creating client comfort was paramount in the incorporation of these amenities. “It’s a great place to start your day of shopping, with the access to laptops and coffee,” explains Katherine Flaherty, v.p./building products and special projects for Merchandise Mart Properties. “The Design Resource Center offers visitors a relaxing, pressure-free environment to browse products in kitchens and baths,” she continues.
Hundreds of products are featured within the selection centers, including countertops, cabinetry, fixtures, bath accessories, toilets, tubs and more. Companies represented include Closet Works, Chicago Tile Institute, Contemporary Bath Design, Showhouse by Moen and Lefroy Brooks Chicago.
The team at Design Resource Center wanted to incorporate several leading companies in the kitchen and bath industry to vary the product offering for clients.
Each product center in the showroom integrates the products for easy client perusal and facilitates more direct customer service. Five of the seven brands featured have a professional on site who is available to clients to answer questions and provide assistance.
The LuxeHome Website also incorporates a page about each manufacturer showcased in The Design Resource Center showroom. This provides clients with information before they even arrive on site.
In addition, it has its own concierge service to help customize the shopping experience for clients with specialized projects. This area provides a publicly accessible computer for additional product information and includes work stations for client meetings.
While traditional styles are displayed side-by-side with contemporary items, the trend for the market is clear.
“A shift to clean, modern looks for both kitchen and bath are prominent,” states Flaherty. She observes a trend toward bronze and gold accents, unlacquered finishes and ornamental detailing as well.
Fitzgerald also notes a shift toward sustainable products, processes and designs. “The increase in education and awareness about these products has really gained traction,” she comments. “Manufacturers are focused, as well, as it becomes more apparent that healthier practices and products result in less collateral impact and waste while remaining highly profitable.”
Green products are an important part of the offering in the showroom’s displays. Pressure-balanced shower valves, recycled metal hardware and low-flow showerheads are among the environmentally responsible products seen in the showroom.
Two receptions were recently held to commemorate the opening of the showroom, with an open house that featured designer Monica Pederson as keynote speaker.
In the future, the team at The Design Resource Center plans to cross promote the boutique with events occurring within and outside the Merchandise Mart.