The Chicago couple Gordon and Carole Segal established Crate&Barrel in 1962. Like Terence Conran in the United Kingdom, they realized that others would enjoy the design and quality of kitchen and home products that they had found on journeys within the United States and abroad. The idea came to them while doing the washing up.

They renovated a 1,700-square-foot former elevator factory in Chicago’s Old Town district. The decor was, by necessity, very cheap; the walls were lined with crating timber and the products displayed in packing crates and barrels. The first store employed three people and offered gourmet cookware and other contemporary housewares in greater variety and at better prices than elsewhere in Chicago.

The first Crate&Barrel mail-order catalogue was produced in 1967 and the first store outside Chicago opened in 1977. Crate&Barrel opened in San Francisco in 1985 and in New York in 1995. In 1998, it entered a partnership with the world’s largest mail-order company, Otto Versand of Hamburg, Germany.

Crate&Barrel has grown into one of the most influential retailers in the United States, with over eighty stores. Its flagship store opened on North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, in 1990. Although the store has been described as resembling a giant food processor, its main forms are a cube with a cylindrical attachment, literally a crate and barrel.

Like Habitat, Crate&Barrel helped create “lifestyle” shopping and influenced both consumers and other retailers. Apart from furniture and linens it sells a wide range of stylish appliances from manufacturers such as KitchenAid and Dualit. The company has a strong philanthropic policy and passes unsold goods on to local charities. It also has financially supported AIDS-related causes.