Stepping into Bentley’s Chicago showrooms is a bit like walking into your local laundromat, but with more luxury and a deeper meaning behind the spaces’ purpose. The commercial carpet company’s theme for this year’s showrooms, found in theMART and on Kinzie Street, played on the name of its new Sorted Collection and included laundry-themed accessories and a charitable component that gave back to related organizations during NeoCon 2019.
Photography courtesy of Bentley
“Every year, manufacturers spend exorbitant amounts of money to make an impression at NeoCon. That’s not a negative; it's simply the price of doing business”, says Ginger Gilbert, vice president of creative for Bentley. “However, this year, Bentley believed it was time to incorporate a charitable component – utilizing NeoCon attendance and attention in a way that benefits others who may not have access to this large of an audience.”
The company aligned with three organizations that help those in need of assistance with laundry services and basic hygiene needs, including Dignity on Wheels, The Laundry Truck LA and LaundryCares. The charities were represented by three gumball machines at both locations, one for each organization. Ginger explains that Bentley created its own currency. As each person came into the space, they distributed the coins, described each charity and asked visitors to deposit the coins in the gumball machine that supported the charity of their choice.
“Going into NeoCon, we weren't sure how this initiative would play out, but the A&D community did not disappoint us,” she says. “We had people requesting multiple coins so they could donate to all three organizations. The response was not only positive, it was humanizing. People shared stories with us, they took time to search us out and thank us for including this meaningful component, and overall, it was a reminder that outside of the walls of theMART, there are people who aren’t as fortunate as ourselves. They need our support and our help.”
Ginger adds that the effort was so well received, she and the Bentley team wished they had originally made it a larger part of the show. In the meantime, they’ve decided to carry the concept out through the rest of the year, and will have opportunities to contribute out in the field for sales team members and customers, as well as at Bentley’s home base in Los Angeles.
“It's so easy to forget that clean clothes and access to daily showers can often be tremendous luxuries – luxuries that affect not only our outward appearance, but that also influence our confidence, self-worth, and how we are treated or labeled by others,” says Ginger. “The work that these organizations are doing, alongside the individuals who champion their causes, is making an impact in ways we can't even imagine.”