USG Interiors, a global manufacturer of high performance building products, conceived The Solutions Center as a resource destination to encourage ongoing dialogue with architects, designers, and their clients. USG hired Starr Design to redesign their 13,000 square foot space which included a showroom, a product design and development studio, and a mock-up area.
Based in Chicago, USG’s cultural connection to the city was intrinsic to the design. The tracks of the elevated train snaking past the client’s windows informed the showroom concept. Previously partitioned areas were removed to open up space and take advantage of the urban views, which include an occasional “el” train and a glimpse of the Chicago Merchandise Mart, the historic center of the nation’s design industry.
Paralleling the sweep of the elevated train tracks, brightly colored, free-standing drywall shapes define auxiliary hubs or emphasize brand detail. To keep the focus on the client’s products, the majority of finishes are in neutral palettes, and the exposed timber structure remains unadorned.
Enhancing the experiential showroom, a dimensional selector wall, developed by Starr Design, provides a tactile rendition of the USG product catalog. Design professionals can use multiple lighting sources for viewing colors, finishes, and textures of the client’s building products.
In the product design and development studio, reconfigured circulation and work areas increase the sense of light and space in the long, narrow area. Placing circulation along the bank of west-facing windows and installing U-shaped, semi-private workstations on the opposite wall maintains exterior views while shielding work areas from direct sunlight. Above each workstation, a suspended ceiling structure, fitted with indirect lighting, arcs in a half-vault from each workstation to its apex at the window wall. A smooth, recycled rubber floor provides added foot comfort and a low maintenance solution for the heavily used studio.