Bud Cleator, the MDC Design Connection Manager, offers more insight into the Minnesota design community.
EAL: Has there been a growing demand for professional design services in the Minneapolis area?
BC: We believe there will always be a demand for professional design services in the Midwest. As with other industries, our professionals were hit hard by the recession. I’m pleased to report, however, that we have experienced a steady increase in business over the last two years. Home building and remodeling is on the rise bringing opportunities for designers and architects in our territory.
EAL: Who is shopping at MDC?
BC: We are devoted to professionals in the interior design, architectural and building trades. However, most of the showrooms located on the first level of our design center are staffed appropriately to accommodate consumers directly. These businesses are primarily kitchen and bath showrooms, art galleries and The Sale Room @ MDC, which is a liquidation center for goods from our furnishing showrooms.
EAL: About how many designers visit the center and use it as their main resource?
BC: Each year we distribute almost 8,000 IMS directories and have a database with more than 14,000 entries of professionals within the design field.
EAL: What would you say is unique about the MDC?
BC: MDC is actually comprised of six buildings combined to be one. The buildings were built from 1905 to 1915 by Munsingwear, which grew to be one of the largest manufacturing facilities in the world at that time. When Perry Ellis purchased Munsingwear the buildings closed down in 1981. Through the vision and perseverance of a local interior designer, Kathryn Strand Koutsky, architects masterfully transformed the building to create our design center. The buildings, totaling approximately 600,000 square feet, became one and opened to the trade in 1985. At that time MDC was the largest renovated building in Minnesota and remains on the National Register of Historic Buildings. We’re all very proud of our building and the atmosphere the environment creates.
EAL: How do you think the center has impacted the national design community?
BC: MDC is the only regional design center between Denver and Chicago. Its existence has enhanced the professionals’ ability to fulfill almost all areas of their project needs. The combined efforts of our showrooms offer goods from over 1800 manufacturers.
EAL: What major cities do you service?
BC: The MDC services professionals in the six state area: Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. We are also fortunate to serve professionals in Southern Canada.
EAL: What resources were available before the design center opened?
BC: Prior to opening the design center 27 years ago, there was a small group of showrooms located in downtown Minneapolis called Harmon Court Design Center that serviced designers in our area. Space was limited and professionals continued to travel to Chicago to find the goods that were not represented in our area.
EAL: Do you have any special programs or services for MDC visitors?
BC: While we maintain loyalty to those guests who are trade members we also invite and encourage visits by consumers. For well over 20 years, MDC has provided visitors with a purchasing and referral service called the MDC Design Connection. Thirty qualified, experienced design professionals donate time to accommodate consumers Monday through Friday. They educate the public regarding the advantages of employing interior designers, provide assistance with purchases from trade only showrooms and offer complimentary consultations. MDC offers its professional guests a full service restaurant, deli/convenience store, conference rooms and several meeting spaces in the common areas of the building. MDC is also home to D’Amico Catering, its offices, kitchens and the MDC Atrium which is one of six venues that host events welcoming more than 20,000 guests to MDC each year.
EAL: What’s new for 2013?
BC: An exciting addition to our mix of tenants will open in early 2013. St. Catherine University will offer a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design with classrooms located in MDC for the junior and senior classes in the program.