| Mar 12, 2015 |
Duralee marks 50 years at the DDB
Boh staff
By Staff

As the Decoration and Design Building (DDB) marks its 50th anniversary, so does the Duralee showroom, one of three original tenants that maintains a showroom at the D&D Building.

Image courtesy of Duralee.

When the showroom originally opened in 1964, the north side of the D&D Building was not yet built, and Duralee’s eighth-floor showroom still had concrete floors and no walls. Duralee occupied what President Martin Rosenberger described as a “too-large” space, designed with rosewood paneling and soffits.

Martin Rosenberger

Over the years the Duralee showroom saw three remodels to remove paneling and make room for more product. In 2013, Duralee moved to a new location on the sixth floor that was more than double the size of the original showroom.

According to Rosenberger, 50 years ago the D&D Building was less a destination for designers. It had fewer and less diverse showrooms and a greater focus on kitchen and carpeting. Even the process of moving in to the building would be unheard of today: a trailer was backed up to the front door on Third Avenue.

Over the last 50 years, Duralee has expanded its brand offerings from fabric-only to furniture, hardware and trim, so designers can create entire spaces with Duralee products. The company also grew from two showrooms in the D&D Building and Chicago to an international company with more than 70 U.S. showrooms and more than 60 outside the country. Read on for the full Q&A with Rosenberger.

What was the original Duralee showroom like when it first opened?

When we first moved into the Duralee showroom in 1964, the D&D Building was smaller—the north side of the building was not yet built. Our showroom on the eighth floor was not ready; the floor was concrete and the walls inside the showroom did not yet exist. The showroom space was very large, actually too large for Duralee at that time, but we were dreaming big. It was designed with rosewood paneling and soffits, the modern look in 1964, and our offices were in the back of the showroom.

Over the years, as Duralee grew, we removed the paneling and remodeled the showroom three times to update it and make room for more product. As we continued to grow, the showroom actually became too small and, in 2013, we moved into a new space on the sixth floor, which is more than double the size of the original one.

Do you have memories of what the DDB was like 50 years ago?

The building had fewer showrooms and less diverse showrooms. There were more kitchen and carpeting showrooms, which is much different than today. There were less people in the building. As the D&D Building grew, it became more of a destination for designers, but it did not start out that way.

What are some of your favorite showroom memories?

When we first moved in, we backed up a trailer to the front of the door on 3rd Ave. and moved our fabrics and office supplies into the building—an unheard thought today!

What is the biggest milestone that Duralee has made since opening at the DDB?

Our biggest milestone is that we have expanded our product offerings from being solely fabric in 1964, to include furniture, hardware and trim—which has enabled designers to create entire rooms with Duralee products. As a result, we have grown from starting with two showrooms, in the D&D Building and in Chicago, to becoming an international company with our products now available in over 70 showrooms in the United States and more than 60 showrooms internationally.

What do you see for the future of the Duralee showroom at the DDB?

We just had a grand opening for our new showroom on the sixth floor of the D&D Building. It is stunning, with an expansive and diverse collection of fabrics, furniture, hardware and trim. We continue to grow with the publication of a new furniture catalog, which includes over 30 new pieces; a new hardware catalog; and the addition of new lines in our showroom—most recently, James Hare and Lulu DK. As we look to the future, we are optimistic and look forward to continued growth and success.

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