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

The Silver Room
(Image credit: Ross Floyd)

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

(Image credit: Ross Floyd)

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. 

The Silver Room chicago

(Image credit: Ross Floyd)

The Silver Room the future firm

(Image credit: Ross Floyd)

The Silver Room interior

(Image credit: Ross Floyd)

The Silver Room store

(Image credit: Ross Floyd)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

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