Showroom Highlights Importance of Giving Occupants a Choice

Dec. 12, 2019

Commercial furniture companies Allsteel and Gunlocke share a 20,000-square-foot showroom space inside Chicago’s theMART (the home of NeoCon). See how the space showcases the importance of giving occupants a choice in the way they work.

For the past four years, Charlie Greene Studio has worked on designing and updating the look of Allsteel showrooms across the country, from San Francisco to Boston. T Clifton Design has done the same the past few years for Gunlocke’s showrooms.

Both commercial furniture companies are under the HNI Corporation, and they share a showroom inside theMART in Chicago, the venue that’s home to NeoCon. Each year ahead of the tradeshow, the showroom is refreshed and updated to display new products—and in 2019, the space achieved WELL Certified Gold, the first furniture showroom inside theMART to do so.

The LIV chair was the new Gunlocke product introduced at NeoCon 2019, and a number of variations are front and center when entering the company’s side of the showroom. The chair or stool can be upholstered and comes in many finishes, including metal and wood. “The entire front window is about, ‘How do you scale up and expand and contract and move from an individual to a team to a community environment?’ through the use of Gunlocke products,” Clifton says.

With the showroom’s consistent change in appearance, Allsteel and Gunlocke wanted to ensure they were maintaining a healthy, wellness-focused space for staff and visitors.

The companies achieved WELL Gold in their Chicago showroom through things like replacing exit signs containing mercury with LEDs; offering low-sugar, healthy snacks to visitors; implementing height-adjustable workstations; and providing a balance of different environments to foster mental wellness and productivity.

The Allsteel-Gunlocke showroom achieved WELL Certified Gold in the summer of 2019. (The certification is awarded at three levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum.) Factors that counted toward the space’s certification include environments for working quietly and recharging, biophilic elements (plants, natural materials) and alternative team spaces. Allsteel’s Boston and Los Angeles showrooms are also WELL Certified Gold.

In Charlie Greene Studio’s fourth iteration of the Allsteel portion of the showroom, displayed at NeoCon 2019, the design firm found inspiration from 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire, who once said, “Inspiration comes of working every day.”

Choice, comfort and customization were top of mind for designers at Charlie Greene Studio when refreshing the Allsteel showroom for 2019. “We were thinking about what inspires people in a space and focused on the individual—giving people a choice in the way that they work and the postures they assume,” Hall says.

“We took the initial concept, ‘inspiration comes of working every day,’ and narrowed that down to a concept we call ‘Work Inspired,’” says Jason Hall, creative director for Charlie Greene Studio. “That’s what drove all of our decision-making about how people can be inspired by the place in which they work.”

[Related topic: 6 Biophilic Trends to Consider for Your Next Interior Project]

T Clifton Design focused its 2019 refresh on the concept of flexibility, by showing how the staged environments and the products themselves can be used in a myriad of ways as workplace solutions. Imagery that brought inspiration included origami and tessellation.

The T Clifton team wanted to tell a story through Gunlocke’s products while moving visitors throughout the space. In this photo, the company’s iconic Bank of England Guest chairs are on display. “We refreshed them by making them completely black and using fabric,” Clifton says. “It was really important for us to show LIV as the new product—but also Bank of England Guest and how they can coexist.”

“Those things do end up appearing as accessories and props throughout the space, so salespeople could tell a story about flexibility,” says Travis Clifton, owner of T Clifton Design.

From breakout rooms that foster collaboration to more comfortable seating for private work, the Allsteel-Gunlocke showroom displays the idea of choice and flexibility in the workplace.

Read next: Our Most-Viewed Articles from 2019

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