In June 1983 (or possibly 1984) I was in Chicago attending a large contract furniture show called NEOCON - which was an event hosted annually at the Merchandise Mart. This was a mind-boggling experience for a kid from rural Canada, because you have to realize at that time there was no Internet available for the average person to see what was new and happening in the world of design. Whatever you saw could only be found either on television, or in a brochure, newspaper or magazine. Alternatively you could visit showrooms or attend trade shows to see things first hand.
It was during my first NEOCON that I decided to roam the Merchandise Mart to see what else was out there. The Mart (as it's known in Chicago) is a large bunker of a building located on the city's North Side - at the branches of the Chicago River.
Boasting 4 million square feet of floor space this building is so imposing that it even has its own zip code. In the 1980s this space was dedicated primarily to the furniture trade, and some of the finest examples of work on the planet could be found there.
While walking from floor to floor I stumbled upon a high end showroom called Karl Mann, and when I looked through the doors my jaw literally hit the floor. What caught my eye was a presentation of exquisite furniture pieces - on display in an open concept, minimalist space.
At first glance the pieces looked more like sculpture than furniture.
Venturing inside I carefully examined each piece with abject awe.
I was particularly drawn to a lacquered bar cabinet on display.