January 2017

chicago interior designer

GOOD DESIGN
SPACES WITH SOUL

As our team grows, we’re adding new talents and integrating into an expanded unit. In this evolution, we circle back to our core design principles as we unify everyone’s efforts. I think back to the feedback I’ve received along this journey and the others recall what drew them to this style of work. In doing so, we reconnect to a common affection for an aesthetic that reflects wholeness, sophistication, and warmth; for spaces that are authentic, complex, and unexpected; and for a type of darkness and weight that is nurturing, entrancing, and multi-dimensional. It’s neither flashy nor peppy, but offers a breeze of inspiration and the foundation of something real.



antiques shopping in buenos aires

ADVENTURES ABROAD
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

I’ve traveled many times to Argentina, most often spending the majority of my time in Buenos Aires. For many years we had a tradition of enjoying dinner at the yacht club for New Year’s Eve followed by dancing with our Argentinian friends. This time of year in Buenos Aires is my favorite because while it’s cold here in Chicago it is summer there and their new year’s celebrations resemble our Fourth of July festivities, with lots of outdoor dining and fireworks at midnight. One of my favorite activities is reading the paper on New Year’s Day. (Luckily we have friends there to translate.) In the paper the Argentines express their resolutions for the coming year. Year after year the top resolutions are the same: more fun, more love, and more time with friends and family. The first time I read this I was quite struck by the difference between this and the typical American resolutions.

Over the years we have discovered many wonderful dealers in the small towns and villages around Buenos Aires. Hugo is one of my favorite shopkeepers there; his romantic shop in the Santa Fe province is styled by his wife, who fills each corner with old leather books, stone platters, weathered cabinets, and unusual objects. Across the frontier region of Argentina I’ve also found many casual and rough treasures including horse blankets, leather objects, and rugs, and even had custom riding boots made. From the shops in the heart of the city to the flea markets in the Palermo Soho area, I typically find everything from parchment trays to midcentury Italian furniture. One time, we even extended the trip with a junket to Uruguay to buy from more private dealers and street markets, and discovered interesting tiles, pottery, and baskets alongside formal French furniture.

In Argentina I’ve found that the people are extremely friendly. Even if they don’t speak your language they will go out of their way to try to communicate with you, and there is a joyous mood in the air. Is seems that as a result of experiencing many crises in their country they don’t look forward to or fear the future; they assume that ups and downs will occur, which they seem to find quite natural.

The food in Argentina is fantastic! It’s not unusual to see empanadas and pizza in the same restaurant, as half the Argentine population is Italian. My favorite restaurant is Olsen. I also love Green Bamboo and the Armenian restaurant Sarkis, where there is often a fabulous tea leaf reader in residence. The argentines drink a tea drink made of yerba mate called mate, which is served in a gourd cup and silver straw. It is common to see folks sipping this everywhere all day long, but I have to say that I find that specialty to be a bit odd.

For accommodations, I’ve stayed at the Faena Hotel designed by Philippe Stark, on a classic wooden cabin cruiser on the water in Puerto Madero facing the cityscape, and at a friend’s estancia in the Argentine countryside.

As for other local activities, there is an amazing town outside of Buenos Aires called the Tigre Delta, with a beautiful garden called the Isla El Descanso, which was designed by Claudio Stamato and Andrés Felipe Durán. The Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron is buried is also cool. But some of my favorite memories are early evenings sitting with a wine or coffee and watching the dancers in the square do the tango.

buenos aires fireworks

New Year’s Eve fireworks



nao tamura

MASTERS AT WORK
NAO TAMURA

The work of cross-discipline designer Nao Tamura balances beauty with innovation, and I find her pieces to be both global and insightful. I particularly love her custom Flow(t) chandelier series, the aquatic inspiration of which she describes as follows: “The reflections of the Venetian cityscape glistening on the evening water hints at an imaginary city below the moving surface. There is a border between the world under and the land above. In the city of Venice, where the real world and fantasy coexists, this chandelier is the embodiment of the beauty of dual worlds. Flow(t) is a series of custom contemporary chandeliers inspired by the colors of the Venetian lagoon.”



lake house materials

IN THE STUDIO
OLD WORLD LAKE HOUSE

We’ve been lucky to work with many wonderful clients on a repeat basis. One project we’re currently working on is a beautiful lake house renovation in Wisconsin. Inspired by old world elements, the new space will feature antique wood floors, plaster fireplaces, and natural stone and marble slabs. In most of the common spaces the palette is comprised of soft neutral and blue tones, with a few rooms that take on more saturation to suit their inhabitants, from the jewel tones of the equestrian room, to the lavender and fuchsia pops in the little girls’ room, to the burnt orange and camel in the son’s bedroom.

The crystals of the chandelier contrast with the velvet of the clean-lined chairs in the dining room. In the living room, unique furnishings and objects float as independent sculptures in soothing shades of white. As every piece comes together for this project, each element plays off the next, and each room unfolds into the adjoining space, harmonizing into an aesthetic melody… one that we look forward to sharing more of soon.

The sample of materials shown includes two sisal patterns from Merida, textiles from Solid & Pattern, and antique wood flooring from Exquisite Surfaces.

dining room rendering

living room



INSPIRATION MEDITATION
COOL + UNUSUAL FASHION

Below are two vignettes of cool and unusual accessories I’ve found along my sourcing adventures. If you’re interested in translating good design principles to your own apparel I would encourage you to seek out one-of-a-kind treasures, considering their materiality, color, and texture in the same way one would select unique objects to compose a space. Whatever you’re selecting, each piece has visceral impact and something to say.

global fashion

Turkish fabric wrap + Chinese metal cuffs + French medusa jewelry box + German stingray and sterling clutch

global fashion

vintage 1930’s Miriam Haskell floral cuff + vintage 1960’s chain choker + vintage 1930’s malachite and copper cuff


warehouse sale

FRESH STARTS
WAREHOUSE SALE

After the holiday decorations are retired for the season and the freshness of the new year unfolds, it becomes a natural time for clearing out the old and bringing in the new. In this spirit, our FLEA MARKET FLASH SALE starts today. This is an extremely rare opportunity to peruse our global finds at a fraction of their normal price as we make room for new treasures in the shop. As a blog reader we wanted you to have first access to this sale. We hope you find something beautiful as you develop your space for the upcoming year.


PHOTO SOURCESfireworks | Faena Hotel | Green Bamboo | Sarkis | tango | Olsen | Recoleta Cemetery | Isla El Descanso | Flow(t) | pots, lake house samples, and round box photos by Dustin Halleck