DuPont, maker of Corian—one of the nation's best-known solid surface brands—has opened showrooms in New York City and Philadelphia to broaden the visibility of its products among architects and professionals in the design community.

"One of our business priorities is 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. Leveraging the relationships we have with them can go a long way toward supporting our business."

DuPont introduced Corian more than 40 years ago as a countertop surfacing material for kitchens and baths. Consumers quickly embraced the acrylic polymer product because of its versatility—it can assume different shapes, for example—and its ability to be fabricated with nearly invisible seams and integral sinks.

In recent years, however, other solid surface products have emerged as challengers to the Corian brand, forcing DuPont to compete with an ever-expanding list of countertop materials and surfacing products providers. Anxious to prove to the design community that Corian can be used for applications other than countertops, DuPont has designed its newly unveiled showrooms to showcase both Corian and Zodiaq quartz as viable materials for interior and exterior wall cladding and for vertical and horizontal installations such as conference tables, work stations, restroom vanities and partitions, shower panels, backsplashes, and wainscoting.

Designed by the New York City-based architecture firm Morris Sato Studio, the 5,000-square-foot flagship Corian Design Studio is located in New York City's visual arts-centric Flatiron District. The by-appointment-only interactive studio showcases new products and fabrication skills, while also giving design professionals a place to bring their clients to see examples of DuPont surfacing installed in a myriad of architectural installations.

A notable design feature of the studio is its "starry sky" lighting, which features 74 pieces of thermoformed Corian. According to DuPont, the "heavens" above connect visitors to the application vignettes within the studio. The space also features integrated real-life applications of DuPont materials in lighting, furniture, and such environments as operating rooms and hospitality suites.

"We have defined the studio space through the Japanese concept of a borrowed landscape," says Michael Morris, a principal of Morris Sato Studio. "Like a delicate garden, it's 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."

Architects and designers may schedule one-on-one appointments at the New York City studio through www.designstudio.corian.com. The facility will host a variety of rotating exhibits from designers around the globe. The 2,500-square-foot showroom in Philadelphia's Marketplace Design Center, meanwhile, is open to the public and accepts walk-ins.

Lawson says these will be the only showrooms DuPont opens in 2009 but that more design studios may be added in the future.