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

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.

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

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