A Well-Designed Choice
The BSH Experience and Design Center features intimate lifestyle vignettes that showcase the latest products from three popular lines.
By SEAN O’KEEFE
FIRST OPENED IN MAY 1930 on the inspiration of Marshall Field, theMart (formerly, the Merchandise Mart) has long been a prominent fixture interwoven into the fabric of Chicago as an innovator in design, culture, art and business. As the world’s oldest continually operating merchandising showroom, theMart is a hub of information and inspiration for architects, interior designers, contractors, business owners, retail buyers and the discerning public. The largest privately held commercial building of its kind in the United States, at 4.2 million gross square feet, theMart rises 25 stories above two city blocks and is visited by an average of 30,000 people a day. An iconic design destination, theMart is a merchandising showroom and design center for the world’s leading manufacturers of architectural products, building materials, and the latest innovations in appliances, technology and home furnishings.
In 2017 BSH Home Appliances Corp. took space in theMart’s first floor LUXEHOME showcase center, to promote their portfolio of home appliances for cooking, dishwashing, refrigeration and laundry. Larry Santello, the Showroom Manager, has been with BSH Home Appliances for more than 20 years, living the brands he represents.
“The BSH Experience and Design Center at theMart was designed to offer a meaningful engagement with our products to the design community, architects, builders, retail partners, as well as everyday consumers.”Larry Santello, BSH Showroom Manager
“The BSH Experience and Design Center at theMart was designed to offer a meaningful engagement with our products to the design community, architects, builders, retail partners, as well as everyday consumers,” says Santello, who has led the showroom’s management since it opened.
BSH Home Appliances Corp. is comprised of 13 brands globally, which are headlined domestically by three – Gaggenau, Thermador and Bosch. Bosch is a mass-premium brand started in Germany. The U.S. product line features European innovation and technology that is made in America. Thermador, an all-American luxury brand, caters to the culinary enthusiast by offering high-performance features with an updated, classic design. Thermador has led the American appliance industry with a long line of culinary “firsts” in product innovations including the first professional series range designed for the home developed in the 1950s, the first built in self-cleaning oven and its exclusive, patented star burner design, true fully integrated refrigeration and the full surface induction cooktop. Gaggenau is BSH’s ultra-premium line inspired by the requirements of top chefs around the world with the intent of bringing professional culinary results to the domestic kitchen across the globe.
“The BSH Experience and Design Center is a place where people can concentrate on their cooking desires in a private and interactive setting designed for it,” says Santello.
The design center features intimate lifestyle vignettes that showcase the latest products from the three lines and allows users to gain firsthand knowledge of their unique features and differences. High-end consumers working with an architector designer on a custom home can review the collection of these top-of-the-line products. Homeowners will discover the many other useful options that serve today’s families culinary needs, such as a convection oven, an induction cooktop, or a combi-steam oven.
“From browsing products to actual demonstrations, this space is set up for the full shopping experience. The showroom helps visitors and designers stay focused and work through the many details of a professionally-inspired kitchen.”
Since it opened four years ago, the success of the Chicago showroom has been immense. Santello and his team have been working around the clock to host architects, designers, developers and builders in educational activities, product demonstrations and kitchen design planning symposiums as lunch-and-learns, product sales trainings and cocktail events.
“The demand among our retail sales partners for the interactive cooking sessions has been so great that we recently were compelled to add 2,000 square feet of additional space to our already existing 7,000-square foot footprint,” says Santello. “We have added a new, interactive cooking lab equipped specifically with the ‘best-of-the-best’ from both Thermador and Bosch.”
The entrance to the new space takes a journey through Thermador’s legacy of the modern American kitchen over the past six decades. The lab, a 22-foot central island, hosts seating for 10 and offers across-the-counter prep areas to keep guests directly engaged.
PRIVATE EVENT SPACE IN THE OLD BANK VAULT PROVIDES A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE.
SHADOWBOX ALCOVES BUILT INTO THE SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX AREA OF THE OLD VAULT SHOWCASE MEMORABILIA.
Something of a time capsule, the event space takes advantage of theMart’s original in-building bank vault, which is circa 1930. Capitalizing on theMart’s sophisticated Art Deco lineage, the subtle nuances of the vault’s detailing are evident in the visible inner workings of the massive doors, surrounding walls of safety deposit boxes, and the finely articulated ceiling trim. The hand-crafted granite conference table seats 12 and built-in wine storage units grace the far wall of the dining space. Shadowbox alcoves were created by strategically removing safety deposit boxes then lined in walnut to display historic memorabilia related to both theMart and the Thermador brand.
While the showroom has been open for several years already, Santello shares that the extension of space and the enhanced experience of live hands-on cooking ups the ante for BSH trade professionals and clients alike.
“Typically, at the traditional retail level, these are a lot of different products, and it can be hard for people to hone in on what they are genuinely looking for,” he says. “Whether they are architects, designers, our retail partners, or the end-user, generally people discover products that exceed expectations and opens their eyes to possibilities they hadn’t considered. This type of experience certainly leaves a lasting impression. The BSH Experience and Design Center at theMart is here to assist our audience in making a well-designed choice.”
The BSH Experience and Design Center at theMart is currently open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Visitors can schedule an appointment to visit the showroom in person or virtually by calling 312.832.3200 or by visiting one of the brand websites: