Gensler retools Carnegie's showroom in the Merchandise Mart to demonstrate the diverse applications of the company's newest introduction.
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 8/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Visitors flock in droves to Chicago's Merchandise Mart each June for NeoCon, a three-day crash course in what's new and notable in the contract industry. Although the mass of products inspires oversaturation in even the most seasoned of attendees, Cliff Goldman, president of Carnegie, knows how to grab their attention. "Every year, we treat the showroom as an exhibit," he states. "We highlight just what's new, and we never show more than three products or concepts." Goldman collaborated with Gensler's John Bricker, who confirms that the duo's abiding strategy was "preserving the clarity of the message to keep visitors from feeling inundated."
Carnegie's featured introduction this year was Xorel Surfaces, a hard-surface application of the woven textile the company pioneered 20 years ago. The innovation bonds durable, environmentally-sound Xorel to a polyester resin available in six standard thicknesses, thereby offering the feel of a textile on a rigid surface. The product can be bent, heat draped, or punched, resulting in a bevy of applications, as demonstrated in the 500-sq.-ft. showroom. Sliding wall partitions, open shelving, rolling storage units, and a central table fabricated from Xorel Surfaces make colorful statements against a streamlined backdrop of creamy white walls and a glossy floor. To present the material's less traditional—and more decorative—applications, "we developed floating planes, like sculptural forms, that showcase the product's different attributes," says Bricker, describing the squares that line the walls like abstract artworks. Creating a tightly focused display that reveals the myriad possibilities of the standout product, Carnegie encourages viewers to explore new terrain.
Gensler's Lisa Van Zandt and Jill Wittnebel assisted on the project.