Mirror Adds Purpose to Columns

by WOHe

What do you do with a support column that can’t be concealed
within the floor plan by building it into the walls? I’ve often
recommended that showroom designers try to work the column into
their design so that it adds to the architectural design of a
display. In other cases, I’ve suggested aligning additional columns
in a row, again to make the offending column an intentional part of
the design, while enhancing the architecture.

Inevitably, however, there are cases in which one or two columns
simply can’t be disguised or made sense of in the overall floor
plan. For instance, the column may be located smack dab in the
middle of the walkway. In this situation, the best thing for the
entire showroom plan is just to let it stay there. Reworking the
floor plan arrangement to incorporate it sacrifices a greater, more
important need. While this problem is rare, it can happen.

A stunning solution
If you’re a designer faced with such a dilemma, you might want to
consider a remedy that I found brilliant, yet simple and cost
effective. The perfect solution was realized by designers planning
the SieMatic Rutt Showroom at the International Market Square in
Minneapolis. For about $750, the column was made into the visual
showpiece of the showroom’s main central walkway.

Showroom manager and design consultant Alan F. Clark explains
how this undesirable element was made an integral part of the
showroom. The column support sat in the middle of the traffic
pattern, between four displays at the junction of the showroom
cross path. Walkway aisle clearances around the column were planned
appropriately and within code at six feet. But what was done next
proved to be brilliantly simple: The column’s width was increased
to 12″ by adding 2″x4″ lumber and drywall to gain a smooth,
finished surface.’

After that, 1″ plate glass mirror was added. Each piece on all
four sides was 87″ tall, beginning 3″ off the floor to a total
height of 90″, so passers-by would not notice the break between
column and mirror. The edges were trimmed with stainless steel
corner protectors, creating a seamless finish at each corner.

The wall above was painted the same white as all of the ceilings
and general purpose showroom walls. The base was cased in floor
moulding also finished in white for protection against cleaning
equipment. This added to the practicality while maintaining the
beauty. The designer economized by using standard mirror materials,
readily available at any glass and mirror store. The mirror experts
measured and installed it flawlessly so it provided the maximum

So why is this a great solution for a tough problem? The photo
shown above gives an idea why.

  • The column “vanishes” by blending with the interior, without
    losing the required support.
  • It creatively shows all of the other displays within the
    showroom from various views.
  • Standing at the front entry, it gives a security viewpoint for
    the front of the showroom to the back or sides.’
  • The mirrored column now reflects light better, using
    professional lighting to complement the light-colored interior

A new reflection’
There are many ways of utilizing the mirrored column as a design
concept. For instance, what if you don’t want to show off an area
surrounding the column? You can still use the concept, but with a
twist. On the side of the column that faces the area you want to
downplay, install two pieces of mirror, butted against each

This technique diffuses the unwanted view by providing a similar
reflective value without a direct view of the less attractive
display. To enhance the reflective effect, bevel all of the edges
of the mirrors. This creates more light bounce possibilities, and
varies the mirrors’ reflective qualities, visually masking the
surrounding areas.

Ideally, it’s best to use mirrors to create another view of
something you don’t want your customers to miss. That’s why Alan
Clark’s design works so well. Many thanks to Alan and his
associates at SieMatic Minneapolis for sharing this excellent idea
that many other showroom designers can appreciate for its
composition and practicality.’

The possibilities for mirrors are endless. Aside from the column
application, you might want to explore other ways in which mirrors
can help to expand and enhance your display space. In
experimenting, you could discover an application that can be used
to make your showroom truly unique.

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