Meyercord Company Building | Essay | Chicago Reader

Meyercord Company Building 

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When Abel Faidy and Julius Floto designed the Meyercord Company building at 5323 W. Lake in the late 30s, the Swiss-born Faidy already had a reputation for creativity and originality in furniture and interior design.

Tall glass-block windows, rounded corners, and a central bay of glass bricks stretching three stories from sidewalk to roof give the 1938 building some of the hallmarks of art moderne, but as Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson says, "There's nothing quite like it...really it has a style and flair that is all its own."

Faidy, though not a registered architect, was a pioneer in the use of glass blocks and Formica, and employed both liberally in the office and design studios for Meyercord, which manufactured decorative decals. He had the company's logo--a hand applying a decal--imprinted in the terrazzo of the entryway and embellished the showrooms with a faux-marble Meyercord pattern. Plain steel stairways with terrazzo treads led to the upstairs offices and studios, which would have been washed in natural light carried through the massive, curved glass-brick walls.

The art deco "skyscraper chair" Faidy designed in 1927 for the Chicago penthouse belonging to Charles and Ruth Singletary is now part of the Chicago Historical Society's collection and is featured on a popular poster.

A highly stylized telephone stand of ebonized walnut-and-maple marquetry, made that same year, is housed at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. For Meyercord's offices Faidy designed boxy steel desks contrasting with curved steel-and-leather chairs, furnishings which now are gone.

The Meyercord Company continued to manufacture decals through the 1950s (designs featuring fruits and flowers can be found at antique stores and on eBay; some with Lucille Ball are currently hot collectibles). Faidy died in 1965, and most of his furniture designs exist today only in drawings; the Meyercord, now occupied by a fraternal lodge and a social services organization, is the only one of his buildings still standing. In the 30s and 40s, fully lit at night, the building looked so stunning that the supplier of the glass bricks showcased the place in its advertisements. Today the entryway is partially obscured by plywood and no light shines through the glass, but the edifice retains its high style.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Robert Murphy, courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.

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