Completed for NeoCon 2008, the new basyx Chicago showroom is the culmination of a complete brand strategy development package and application roll-out created and executed by marquardt+ (work performed as Design Collaboratives) for the basyx division of the HON Company. The Chicago showroom needed to capture the energy and brand continuity established by the other brand components created by marquardt+ over the past four years.

The initial brand strategy called for marquardt+ to differentiate basyx from other entry level contract office furniture lines and create an instantly recognizable brand identity. We determined the brand should position entry level products in a more familiar context for first time buyers with no prior contract furniture purchasing experience. We achieved this by creating product information, presentations and access that is more retail, thus a more familiar process to first time specifiers and end users. A personal and informal tone was created through the identity creation and development, copywriting, catalogs, web site, print and mail advertising, tradeshow exhibits, and a small New York City showroom.

The Chicago Showroom challenge was to take this established retail brand experience showcasing entry level contract office furniture and to insert it into the highly coveted third floor location of the Merchandise Mart, among some of the most established and high profile contract product showrooms in the industry. For marquardt+ this challenge provided an opportunity to expand the developed basyx brand strategy and adapt it to a more aesthetically demanding context. The resulting installation contains basyx entry level office furniture products in an austere and flexible interior, designed for multipurpose use, including presentations, training, reception and new furniture introductions; a three-dimensional interpretation of the basyx catalog.

The showroom operates as a brand wrapper that is at once architectural and a visually enticing graphic backdrop maintaining the product as hero. The team achieved this result by creating a build out that reflects a modern, elegant and approachable European retail aesthetic. marquardt+ utilized a simplified butt joint glass storefront, a yellow drywall exterior soffit surround and a white rubber platform insertion at the corridor façade. This is supported by the overall restrained use of materials and limitation of color to the identity palette. The brow of the exterior façade and platform has an exterior located, pole mounted, internally illuminated rotating chair display cube intended to isolate and elevate the enclosed chair to the status of the basyx brand icons. Brand graphics are subtle and integrated in vinyl, paint, and dimensional cut-out letters created out of white Johnsonite rubber flooring product.

Per the brand colors, yellow, white and dark grey are utilized throughout the space with the only contrasting tones coming from the product itself. Yellow was selected as the brand color for its simplicity, and ability to coordinate with the laminate and wood tone finishes of the line, giving them an upscale, warm and inviting appearance. In the showroom, yellow is strategically applied to the new ceiling, identity walls and area rugs. The depth of the space is emphasized to draw visitors into the showroom. This is achieved by creating a yellow ceiling drywall soffit recess, termination wall identity panel, and flush installed carpet floor area, defining the entry bay to the rear. Also, a wall mounted sample, storage and presentation ledge is applied to the north wall, again emphasizing the depth while providing a functional area for training presentations and product option education.

The columns bisecting the space were re-clad round to reduce their massing and imposition on the space. The basyx furniture lines are organized in the newly opened space through low profile area rugs and alignment positioning. This provides unlimited flexibility for product change-outs and showroom presentations and functions. The rear wall to the right is surfaced with a series of full height, wood laminate basyx conference room table tops, that are hinge mounted with touch latches to access storage and the rear office/service kitchen. This panel detail is continued up the length of the south wall in white and holds the brand imaging, graphics, and product descriptions. All products are tagged with list pricing and specific product codes and icons, to further simplify the options and support the retail approach.

Overall, the showroom is an elegant brand wrapper that organizes and presents the basyx line in a simple, clear and easy way to engage, understand and procure basyx product.