Design Solutions - Fall 2019 - 29

When Steelcase wanted to
create a memorable 30,000
square foot WorkLife and
WorkCafe showroom within
Chicago's Merchandise Mart,
the company worked closely
with Shimoda Design Group
of Los Angeles and the
architectural woodworking
firm Bernhard Woodwork Ltd,
an AWI firm from Northbrook,
Illinois.
According to Joey Shimoda
FAIA, FIIDA, the objective
was "to create a showroom
experience that celebrated
the ideas that workplace
should express freedom of
choice in where and how one
could work, spatial elements
that are sculptural and
architecture that imbued a
'hand-made' quality. Perhaps
most importantly, the space
needed to feel more like a
home than a commercial
workspace or showroom."

One of our primary
objectives of this project
was to create an authentic
space, explains Steelcase's
Cherie Johnson. "The project
was centered around the
use of natural materials.
Wood was a logical choice
in that it provided great
structural properties but also
possessed a natural beauty."
There were a number
of challenges in terms of
the physical environment
of the Merchandise Mart,
adds Shimoda. "The Mart is
nearly 100 years old so the
elements of physical access,
environmental controls
and schedule were all
thoroughly considered in the
implementation of the project
which ran from March 2017
through June 2018. Natural
colors of the materials were
a common thread among all
items. Many of the existing
materials of the base building
were left uncovered to
illustrate the way that the
building was built, but also to
reflect a patina that has been
built up over time."

Wood Elements
Explains woodworker
Mark Bernhard, the project
consisted of two main
elements. The first was a
sculptural element hanging
from the entry ceiling that
was affectionately referred
to as "Woody". It essentially
was an upside down bird's
nest fabricated of Ash
running a serpentine length
of 100+ feet at its center
line and covering an area of
over 80 feet by 30 feet. The
ceiling element was bent to
split either side of the main
entry glazing of the Steelcase
showroom. Second was the
nutrition bar which included
Sho Shugi Ban planking with
full kitchen and storage area
featuring copper cladding
and full height curved
and pocketing doors, plus
radiator enclosures with sills.

ASH

Bernhard Woodwork
fabricated and installed the
woodwork. Wood bending
was done by Chris Mroz of
Pure Timber LLC -the Extreme
Wood Bending company,
located in Gig Harbor,
Washington.



Design Solutions - Fall 2019

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