Formica Showroom

Despite the intensity of inspiration and humor he takes from artistic, historical and literary references, architect Stanley Tigerman had to abandon such concrete allusions at the Formica showroom in favor of abstraction.

This stylistic exercise is free of structural suggestion, historical metaphor, functional expression, or any other fashionable theory of architectural design.

Grace Anderson, Interior Design, January 1987

The double grid is an expression of the site of the project, the Merchandise Mart, the geometry of which is informed (or deformed) by the Chicago River.  The trapezoidal site gives rise to the grid, which measures the showroom space.  This grid, in turn, is cleaved or disrupted by the people who travel through it, marking it with their presence.

The grid also responds to the original concern that the showroom space be marked or measured in such a way that extrinsic allusion are eliminated and the focus is on the object of desire — Formica.  Suggesting scaffolding, the grid in turn implies something in the process of becoming or, conversely, being removed.

The nature of the product is intrinsic to the architecture of the showroom.  The design is meant to suggest the presence of the product while positing the absence of the architecture the presumably brought it into being.  Formica is, by nature, of itself.  The design solution demonstrates that the product does not require extrinsic elements to verify — or indeed to justify — its existence.