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DARRAN Showroom

This Chicago showroom interior design was inspired by the North Carolina landscape, where DARRAN is headquartered.  Kuchar coupled that concept with a trend-forward material palette that brings surprise and delight to visitors at NeoCon and in The Mart in Chicago.   The showroom is warm and inviting, allowing all who visit to feel welcome and a sense of belonging.

When we kicked off this project, we presented two concepts. The first focused on bringing a sense of wonder and delight throughout the space through unexpected pairings of colors and forms, while the second pulled a cheerful palette from the topography of DARRAN'S home base. DARRAN ended up loving both, so we married the two! Our imagery below paired inspiration photos from both ideas with images of DARRAN's products. This helped us really get a feel from the start how their furniture would blend with the concept.

We incorporated soft, winding forms and totem-like shapes with unexpected details meant to really highlight the furniture. Two color palettes resulted - warm browns and teals for the architecture directly reference the red Carolina clay and blues of the sea and sky, while on-trend tones of eggplants, warm greens, and butter yellow push overall aesthetic and really make their furniture stand out during Neocon and beyond. Color was very important to us in this space, using uncommon pairings to evoke specific feelings from guests of comfort and inspiration. Establishing a palette early on in a project really helps to set the tone.

Overall the brown and blue architectural palette was kept intentionally very matte, employing materials such as acoustic felt and solid-toned linoleum to allude to the softness we wanted to convey. This allowed the strategic use of more reflective materials - like tinted acrylic, mirrored metals , and glossy dimensional tile - to really shine. We utilized these materials within the space to guide the user to specific points of focus. The tile, for example, was installed at both entries as a unifying beacon at both of the showroom's entries, as well as the hospitality bar. This brings guest's attention to some of the most important areas in the showroom and helps break up the expanses of soft, matte tones.

The hospitality bar's shape sure is a showstopper! We workshopped several different shapes for this bar that referenced the wandering forms of the concept, and ultimately landed on this softened hex that alludes nicely to several of DARRAN's products. The winding soffit is reflected in the flooring below, wrapping around one of four massive acoustic clouds in the space. We designed these clouds to mimic topographical maps, with multiple layers of soft curves to reinforce the concept. We love the effect they bring to the space and how nicely they highlight the brand's furniture, providing a soft level of intimacy to each vignette.

Behind the bar we incorporated a sweeping counter for additional seating, allowing for multiple options for interacting with the space and helping to make the bar area feel more active. Hugging the rear bar corner is a custom mural wallcovering created with the tones of our architectural palette, employing gradients of blue and rust. The subtle effect it gives the space is visible throughout, providing a soft backdrop to the showroom. We wanted this wallcovering to complement the space seamlessly, adding to the vibe without standing out too much.

Through the space we created a series of bays at the column lines, allowing DARRAN to create specialized vignettes within each zone. The "front porch" along the north corridor received operational netted drapery that provides customizable layers of visibility. This allows DARRAN to play with different size and configurations of furniture in future displays without adding future costs. Within the central bays we incorporated soft rounded corners at the portal openings, filled in with hazy tinted acrylic meant to reference a sunset. We incorporated this translucent material to help keep a feeling of intimacy throughout the space without enclosing the "rooms" too much, which would hinder sight lines. This layered approach also helps to create varied scenes of each vignette as they are viewed from different angles.

The sense of wonder and delight really did shine through, earning DARRAN not only Best Small Showroom, but also Best Of Show at IIDA's 2024 Neocon awards. Both awards were well deserved by DARRAN for their patient collaboration and trust in our vision. We loved collaborating with the client team to create a functional and beautiful space that highlights their product so beautifully.

Photography: Mike Schwartz


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