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From Home Furnishing Business

Hall of Fame Hires Roto to Create Exhibits for New Headquarters

The American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame has selected the international exhibit design firm Roto to create and oversee exhibits in its new permanent home at 311 S. Hamilton Street. Designed by Freeman Kennett Architects, the 23,500 sq. ft. building is scheduled to open in April 2021.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, the firm represents a new generation of exhibition design that brings fresh, interdisciplinary perspectives and capabilities to the space.

“Roto combines the latest in immersive theater, interactivity, embedded technology and social participation with a commitment to preservation and scholarship,” says David Gebhart, chairman of the Hall of Fame Foundation board of directors, and CEO of Global Views. “Our exhibits will be authentic and compelling to both industry insiders and the general public.”

The Creative Team comprised of David Gebhart, Global Views; Caroline Hipple, Norwalk; Larry Rogers, consultant; Mark Phillips, Phillips Collection; Mike Herschel, Furniture Marketing Group; Kyle Hughes, Hall of Fame; and Karen McNeill, Hall of Fame, conducted an extensive search of about 30 exhibit firms located on the East Coast in the U.S. and Canada. Specifically targeted were companies with extensive museum exhibit expertise versus those companies with mostly corporate display business. After narrowing the search, Creative Team members interviewed select firms, followed by a site visit for a personal review and interaction with the project team that would work with the Hall of Fame.

“Roto was our first choice. From the initial contact through the interview process we found them to be professional, creative, good listeners and enthusiastic about home furnishings,” says Caroline Hipple, first vice president of the Hall of Fame Foundation board of directors and president of Norwalk Furniture.“The personal site visit confirmed a great synergy with our vision to create a community and connection, an experience that changes people and ultimately inspires them to focus on creating a beautiful home.”

Roto will provide the creative concept for the visitor experience and oversee the design of museum-quality gallery spaces. The company has been charged with providing flexible opportunities and also will be involved in programming content for the two-sided Dynamic Story Wall, a digital matrix of interlaced LED screens, which will be visible from the street on one side and throughout the interior on the other.

“Museum audiences are seeking relevancy and authenticity above everything else,” says Joseph Wisne, president and CEO of Roto. “That’s why this incredibly rich world of home furnishings and design can deliver such an exciting and engaging public experience. We can’t wait to get started.”

In 2018, the Foundation hired its first curator and historian as an important first step in fulfilling the part of its mission to preserve the history of the home furnishings industry and to tell its story. In addition to preserving the organization’s current memorabilia, the Hall of Fame has been researching and visiting other museums to lay the groundwork for its new home furnishings exhibits. The new space will allow the Foundation to expand its collections and to preserve materials for future generations. Plans call for a rich ongoing calendar of traveling exhibits from around the world.

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