Shimoda Design Group Experiments with Tactility, Color, and Pattern at Steelcase’s New Chicago Showroom

“In this space, and in all the spaces that we do together, we really challenge you to see something differently, even though you’ve seen it many times before,” says Joey Shimoda.
shimoda design group steelcase chicago showroom

Susan Chang, left, and Joey Shimoda stand in front of a structural component of their update to Steelcase’s Mart showroom. Courtesy Marta Elena Vassilakis


A key element of Steelcase’s philosophy is to seamlessly integrate its ever-growing portfolio of products into spaces that not only showcase them effectively but also reflect the evolution of the workplace at large.

Case in point: The manufacturer has adapted its own offices across the globe to respond to changing technology and employee habits over the years. So it is only fitting that the company’s Mart showroom get an update and expansion in time for NeoCon. The emphasis now is less on creating quiet areas for the individual and more on fostering collaboration. “One important part of work is emotional intelligence and how you connect to other people and what kind of spaces help create those types of moments,” says Cherie Johnson, global design director at Steelcase.

Just as it did ten years ago, Steelcase turned to Shimoda Design Group—cofounded in 2000 by Joey Shimoda and Susan Chang—to give its Mart space a makeover. For Shimoda’s team (which redesigned the Mart showroom in 2008, in addition to the manufacturer’s centers in Los Angeles and Grand Rapids, Michigan), the 31,258-square-foot sales floor presented an opportunity to continue its ongoing aesthetic conversation with Steelcase by experimenting with tactility, color, and pattern. “In this space, and in all the spaces that we do together, we really challenge you to see something differently, even though you’ve seen it many times before,” Shimoda says.

shimoda design group steelcase chicago showroom

Cherie Johnson, Steelcase’s director of global design with drawings of the expansion. Courtesy Steelcase


The update features an addition on its north side; north and south are differentiated by their material treatments. The southern portion retains its modern palette (mirrors, copper, lenticular surfaces) and geometries that “speak to DNA and technology and in many ways feel futuristic,” Shimoda says.

The northern spaces showcase the inherent qualities of each material, which imparts a handmade feel. At the refreshment bar, Japanese charred wood and rolled steel lend a decidedly rustic look. The garden porch area features plywood, corrugated copper, and plants, striking a balance between indoor and outdoor elements. To emphasize the importance of natural light in the workplace, the design team selected a Ketra circadian lighting system to emulate the changing color temperatures of the sun.

In this sector, Shimoda explains, the architecture represents “a wide range of ideas on how furnishings enhance living and working.” Steelcase’s latest showroom iteration is a perfect fusion of past and present, something the Steelcase-Shimoda partnership has brought together in each collaboration for the past 15 years. It’s a process that affirms Shimoda’s belief that “thoughtfully designed spaces can make our lives better.”

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Categories: Interiors

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