DuPont, maker of perhaps the nation’s most well-known solid surface brand, has opened two showrooms in New York City and Philadelphia as a way to broaden the visibility of its products among architects and professionals in the design community.

“One of our business priorities in to connect with architects and interior designers,” says Elizabeth J. Lawson, North America commercial marketing manager for surfaces at the Wilmington, Del.-based company. “They are a very important audience for us. If we can leverage the relationship we have with them, it can go a long way toward supporting our business.”

DuPont introduced Corian more than 40 years ago as countertop surfacing material in kitchens and baths, and the product was almost an instant hit. The acrylic polymer product was popular among consumers because it was highly versatile, able to assume different shapes, and could be fabricated with near-invisible seams.

But as the years have passed, other solid surface products emerged as challengers to the brand, and now the company must also compete with an ever-expanding list of other materials and surfacing products. Now DuPont is on a campaign to show the design community that Corian can be used for applications other than countertops.

“For 10 years we’ve had a vision to be a great material that could be used inside or outside as cladding or for other vertical applications,” Lawson says.

The showrooms are part of the effort to show Corian in a different light. Unlike traditional design showrooms set up with vignettes of kitchens and baths, the design centers also will be set up to showcase alternative uses for Zodiaq quartz and Corian such as interior or exterior wall cladding, shower panels, and other vertical and horizontal installations.

“Our collective vision was to create a place of interaction and experiment, where industry experts can collaborate and create inspirational environments with Corian and Zodiaq,” Lawson explains. “The space will serve as the premier resource to demonstrate how DuPont Surfaces can be used as innovative, flexible and inspirational design materials.”

Designed by the New York City-based architecture firm Morris Sato Studio, the 5,000 square-foot New York flagship showroom is located in the visual arts-centric Flatiron district. The by-appointment-only interactive workshop is a place to see new products, fabrication skills, and a place where design professionals can bring their clients to see examples of DuPont surfacing installed in a myriad of architectural installations.

One design feature of the studio is the starry sky lighting, featuring 74 pieces of thermoformed Corian. The “heavens” above connect visitors to the application vignettes within the studio, the company says. Another design feature is integrated real-life applications for a variety of environments including operating rooms, feature walls, hospitality, education, residential applications, lighting, and furniture.

“We have defined the studio space through the Japanese concept of a borrowed landscape,” says Michael Morris. “Like a delicate garden, it is a sensory experience where designers can look, touch, feel and see the energy that Corian evokes. The specific technologies we have employed within the studio will actually draw people closer to the material, rather than farther away.”

In addition to Corian installations, the space also will feature Zodiaq quartz surfacing, which the company says can be used in conference tables, work stations, restroom vanities and partitions, backsplashes, wainscoting, and wall cladding.

Lawson says these stores will be the only showrooms opened in 2009, but she adds that more design studios may be added in the future.

Architects and designers may schedule one-on-one appointments at the New York City studio through www.designstudio.corian.com. The Studio will host a variety of rotating exhibits from designers around the globe. The Philadelphia store, which measures 2,500 square feet, is open to the public and accepts walk-ins.

Nigel Maynard is senior editor, products, at BUILDER magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: New York, NY.