For leading textile and chemical manufacturer Milliken, the renovation of their Chicago showroom was one highly visible element of a larger strategy of revitalising their brand image and reinforcing its values in the minds of clients and staff alike. Goals for the project therefore included more than a straightforward improvement in product display settings: the showroom would also stress Milliken's collaborative, client-forward way of work by offering a greater opportunity for the firm's representatives to interact with visitors. A further priority was to create a space that visually and functionally complemented the Floor Products Division lab recently completed at its Spartanburg, SC, headquarters campus.
The design solution accordingly evolved as a carefully balanced mix of flowing open-plan architecture containing a series of discrete, semi-enclosed meeting/collaboration zones. Visitors enter the space and encounter a prominent white wall bearing the Milliken logo and a simple, white cantilevered bench seating. Above, a suspended ceiling adds an expanse of corporate blue which wraps partially into upper part of the wall.
From here, visitors proceed into a larger, open product showroom whose most obvious feature is its wide range of discussion settings. Interspersed along its main circulation route, these seating areas range from casual, lounge-type arrangements, to bar seating, to more formal arrays of tables and chairs. As well as featuring different furniture, each is mildly demarcated from the circulation route and neighboring seating arrangements by a variation of backdrop. Some sit atop islands of carpeted floor, and/or below a floating expanse of blue ceiling, often bordered to one side by blocky, canted wall sections which jut from the floor like fragments of ice.
The reconfiguration of the display areas, entry and product niches highlight both Milliken and Constantine (acquired by Milliken in 2010) product lines in an environment of greater visibility and collaborative potential. The basic "white box" approach taken to the space provides a neutral envelope which allows product design to be highlighted, while selective applications of vivid color enhance Milliken's corporate identity and amenity meeting areas. Two particularly prominent canted walls located within the entry and the rear accent wall emphasize wayfinding while debuting Milliken's new corporate identity.
Sustainability was a high priority from the outset of the Milliken Chicago project, as its original LEED Gold certification was maintained in this extensive new renovation.