Carnegie approached marquardt+ to develop a new showroom that manifests the brand identity evolution they were in process of developing in late 2013. Designers were passionately inspired by remote tours of the Carnegie product development studio, which provided an understanding of the fabric design process and connection to and respect for Carnegie’s raw creativity, unbeknownst to designers beforehand.

This motivated Carnegie to relocate their product development studio from their remote factory to above their NYC showroom so designers using the showroom could experience the product development in action. Carnegie realized their raw product development was the core brand truth of the company itself. This defined the brief to our approach to design their new Chicago Showroom.

When I first met with Carnegie I was immediately struck by their willingness to push themselves outside their comfort zone with material experimentation. They freely spent time pragmatically considering ideas that may not come to production yet would fuel subsequent concepts. I was inspired by their openness and sincere love for their process. There was no pretense, just passion and a proactive eye for unconventional materials and inspiration. My job was to express this as the brand essence of the new showroom design.

The leased space was made up of remnants of adjoining spaces with no visual connection except for archways that allowed a path to the rear of the space from a single entry. The conventional reaction would be to gut, cleanup, and open the space. Yet, I realized the disjointed bays and pathway ironically supported the brief and narrative. So I retained the imperfect spaces and layers of past use, further exposed through demolition and display insertions, so the space and process used to create it would align with the Carnegie story. Visitors would experience an environment that expresses what Carnegie offers but also how Carnegie gets there. The revealed space elevates the finished product, as the design process that created it intended.

The textures and marks of construction were not erased but celebrated and utilized to solidify the connection to the Carnegie brand and product development. We finished by displaying the actual product development teams’ inspiration materials and sources, which were shipped in from New York, with the resulting products, exposing the thinking behind them to designers directly. The result is an experiential showroom that puts forward the Carnegie brand essence in every detail in a very honest and deliberate way.

The clients and users find the space is intimate, tactile, and inspiring. To see a video of the space, and hear Tom speak about the process, click here.