AEG Home Theaters Design Studio

“The Theater Guys in the Mart.”

From Trade Show Booth to Design Center:
The Story of Artisan Electronics Group’s March to the Mart

Our decision to open a design studio in the most prestigious design center in the world was a monumental undertaking for what was then a smaller business.  The “March to the Mart” actually began in March of 2013.  We had recently rebranded our company as Artisan Electronics Group (from Sound Design Systems) and had become an industry partner in ASID (American Society of Interior Designers).  At that time, ASID had been hosting an event called Design Summit, which one might call a small-scale trade show for the Illinois Chapter’s partners, and it was held in a tiny little corner on the enormous seventh floor of the Merchandise Mart, which is a permanent exhibition (trade show) floor.

Merchandise MArt

We decided to throw our hat in the ring and reserved a booth, a first for our business.  On very short notice, we had a handful of banners made, and I put as much and as wide a variety of our various offerings as would fit into the back of the Tundra, and headed for the loading dock at the Mart, an experience unto itself!  We didn’t sell anything, but the entire experience was a hoot.  We invited friends to stop by and see us “in the Mart,” and we liked the way that sounded.  When the event had concluded and we were packing up, I said “we’ll be back,” and I meant it.  In 2013, there had never been an electronics showroom of any sort in this majestic design palace, and it just seemed to me that every other category of high-end residential home design needs was represented in the building, so why not electronics?

It took us three-and-a-half years to figure out “the how.”  To become the first ever electronics business to plant their flag in the Mart was as big a commitment as one might imagine it to be, in so many ways.  We knew that we definitely did not want to simply replicate what all other A-V showrooms in the country look like (try to display absolutely everything we sell).  To be in the Mart, we felt that needed to create a more impressive presentation, something more exclusive, and what could be more exclusive that a best-in-class demonstration cinema?  We believe that people should have the opportunity to get a proper demonstration of the cinematic experience, if they’re going to spend upwards of $250,000 for a purchase of this sort, and we knew that such a demonstration facility did not currently exist in Chicago.  And thus, AEG became “the Theater Guys in the Mart.