Redesigning The Silver Room community space in Chicago

Redesigning The Silver Room community space in Chicago

This Chicago boutique and community space – which champions local artists, designers, and Black-owned businesses – undergoes a makeover courtesy of architects Future Firm and designer Norman Teague

Founded by Chicagoan Eric Williams in 1997, The Silver Room is one of the North American city’s prominent retail destinations, known even beyond its urban borders for championing local artists and in particular, artists of colour. Now, the 1,500 sq ft southside boutique and community space has just been redesigned by local architecture studio Future Firm and designer and educator Norman Teague.

Located in the vibrant Hyde Park neighbourhood, the space needed to be truly multi-functional, often shifting from boutique to a variety of other functions daily. ‘Inherently it’s a retail store, but it’s much more than that. It’s a community space, it’s a gathering space, it’s a place for book signings, it’s a dance floor, it’s a place for fashion shows. I like the fact that it’s a lot of different things, and the more people who discover it, the more things it can become,’ says Williams. ‘The way I look at it, we just kind of create a platform and people who come in can create what they want from it.’

The Silver Room shop

Future Firm founders Ann Lui and Craig Reschke focused on creating a simple and utilitarian, yet flexible interior in white and grey tones. ‘A minimal design approach becomes a platform for the people, products, events that are the core of Silver Room to take center stage,’ says Lui.

The space is vividly occupied by custom plywood display systems, designed in collaboration with Norman Teague Design Studios - each created with The Silver Room’s curated selection of products in mind, including from fashion accessories to jewellery and products. Following the overall approach that emphasises flexibility, each unit allows simple but significant adjustments to adapt as merchandise changes. 

Where relevant and possible, the team incorporated in their designs material from the store’s previous iterations – The Silver Room has had three location and 10 redesigns in the course of its life so far – giving the project a strong sense of continuity and identity, on top of its refined aesthetic and strong functionality. §

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