Chicago’s original Merchandise Mart was once the largest building in the world. Opened in 1930, it had – get this! – 4,200,000 gross square feet of floor space.
Today, theMart is home to top brands that serve as a hub for the city’s architects, interior designers, contractors and homeowners. Showrooms that display that latest appliances, cabinetry, textiles and more are just part of the scene. This is a wholesale design center of gigantic proportions, as well as home to leading companies who have Chicago outposts, including PayPal, 1871, Conagra and Kellogg.
I had the opportunity to visit with our friends at BSH Group and check out their impressive showroom featuring Thermador, Gaggenau and Bosch appliances. Mark Slager, Builder and Design Manager, gave me a tour and explained how they work with the design-build community and facilitate CEU courses for the community. While they do not sell products directly from the showroom, they instead educate and inspire.
I also had the pleasure to chat up Margaret McSweeney, the producer and host of Kitchen Chat, who was setting up in the Viking/La Cornue showroom for a videocast with chef and designer Jaime Laurita. Jaime’s design of the space is incredible. He has such an impressive portfolio of design projects and we’re hoping to run him to ground for an interview in TD Magazine.
If you find yourself in Chicago and have some time, theMart is an incredible experience. Floors and floors of experience centers and wonderful people to interact with. I recommend it for any design-build professional.