THE MART 2.0: A Redefinition Of The Merchandise Mart Begins

“The design narrative around our approach to THE MART 2.0 has been about interpreting Art Deco along an evolved timeline, embracing the ornate décor historic to the building and complimenting the art deco geometries and lines in a new reinterpreted way, creating a family vernacular. Arcs, angles and intersections seen in an upscaled composition.”
Lily Diego
Design Director / Senior Associate, Gensler


The team at ER2 Image Group and our Applied Surfaces division have been honored to help leave our mark on yet another icon of Chicago architecture and design: The Merchandise Mart, through THE MART 2.0. Besides enjoying bragging rights as the country’s largest privately held commercial building, The Merchandise Mart is the premier location to bring together the best in residential and commercial design, thanks to its over 250 design showrooms.

Lily Diego at global architecture and design firm Gensler was inspired for THE MART 2.0 by the limitless possibilities to interpret the history of the building through its Art Deco heritage. To engineer and install her exquisite Art Deco design throughout the building, Diego called upon ER2 and Applied Surfaces.

Seeing as an average of 30,000 visitors pass through The Merchandise Mart every business day, making them stop and take notice wouldn’t be easy. But our team was up for the all-encompassing challenge, installing Dreamscape wallcoverings on a feature wall, in the new fitness facility, along massively long hallways and other corridors.

In addition to our wallcovering work, ER2 also produced compelling:

  • Signage
  • Wayfinding
  • Elevator graphics
  • Multi-dimensional illuminated pieces

Another Large Puzzle That Needs Solving

Take a good look at these pictures. It looks like each piece was created individually, right?


Well, it wasn’t.

What you see here is the result of a process to make the pieces of the feature wall and other walls nearby fit neatly together, like a giant puzzle. Instead of individual components, large sections were mounted, then connected, then illuminated.

This puzzle-making on a grand scale reminded us of our project for UBER Freight’s company headquarters, in which a large entrance’s materials had to be carefully pieced together.

The timing of our transforming the walls was excellent too, integrating very well with The Merchandise Mart undergoing a $60 million overhaul of its first two floors, complete with a fitness center, “speakeasy” lounge and 27,000 square foot conference space.

We’ll have even more to share about our part of THE MART 2.0 project as it enters a phase of new work, so stay tuned for that exciting next chapter, courtesy of ER2, Applied Surfaces and Gensler.

Design: Lily Diego, Gensler

Wallpaper: Dreamscape Silver Flash, Dreamscape Black Flash

Environmental Graphic Installation: ER2 Image Group, Applied Surfaces division.