Chi-City and the New Stuff

Sometimes I don't know if there is anything much better than being a designer and seeing new product. Especially when that new product makes your heart beat so quickly that it basically leaps into your throat. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Not all new product gives you those first encounter jitters. Some collections can leave you in that awkward middle ground of feeling like you have to say it is "nice" (when, let's be honest, "nice" isn't really the nicest of compliments) and wondering if the designers took too many drags from the peace pipe before sending these ideas off into production. Anyway, if there is one thing that design has taught me, it is that you can really never say "never".  That might be one of my favorite parts about my job- the opportunities to be constantly surprised by people's innate creativity and translation of concept to creation.

There is the opportunity of being presented with a given setting and facing the challenge of creating an end result that is the perfect blend of the client's desired vision and your aesthetic.  There is the "recycling" of styles. So many items that were old are new again, but with a fresh twist. That dijon colored mohair that adorned your grandma's rocking chair would look dated if  translated literally straight from the era. But now, in 2012, are we seeing mohair and dijon (maybe not in that combination, but you see where I am going) making a comeback? The wearabiliy of mohair is so practical!  That bright yellow/dijon color is so punchy! And, not having lived through the 1970's, this can legally still be considered new to me. On the other hand, I have been looking through design magazines with my mom and I say "Ooooo flame stitch"  simultaneously to her "Ewwwww flamestich". Tomato- Tomaato. Anwyhoo, I digress. All I really wanted to tell you guys is that I have had a fun couple weeks Ooo-ing and Ahh-ing over new product. From reps presenting spring lines to a couple days spent down in Chicago at the Merchandise Mart and beyond, I have a reenergized vision for spring and, as always, am looking forward to the creativity and inspiration that is bursting from every corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new rug collection was pretty awesome. I'm pretty much always a sucker for blue and white. Some of these would be amazing in a beach house with white washed floors or a funky living room.I can almost hear the breeze rustling the beachgrass, feel the sun on my face and  the taste of sea salt on my lips...

Speaking of sea salt, how awesome is this soap?

And, if you cannot get by the ocean, this was a pretty nice place to swim a few laps while visiting Chicago.

These are the windows from the pool room at the InterContinential. I loved this design... color palate and all. I also thought it was pretty awesome how they lit the architectural elements. It was a nice way to emphasize the space and detail of the room which might have otherwise been over looked.

While in Chicago I also took some time to go back to my Swedish roots in Andersonville. I popped in the Swedish American museum and picked up a couple of these little little Christmas tum-tums (I know it's May, but one isn't at the Swedish American museum every day...).

   

As I was in the neighborhood, I also popped in Brimfield where they were all about making what is old new again. I think some of you might have had a heart attack to see what they were selling, as you probably sold it at your local rummage sale in 1990. Nevertheless, it was great.

Yep, those are tuna cans. I was at the Merchandise Mart on Thursday and in the lobby they had all kinds of can sculptures. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was a little afraid if I sneezed I might set into motion the world's largest domino can exhibition, so I skedaddled on upstairs.

I used to work at the Hinson Showroom at the Merchandise Mart as a summer intern during the summers after my freshman and sophomore year of college at Michigan State. To say it felt like no time had passed is an understatement. It was as if time stood still. I remembered every twist and turn in the building, recognized faces and felt a little bit like the 2004 version of myself. I was sporting my thick tortoise rimmed glasses, so I felt a little incognito (a la Julian in Adam Sandler's "Big Daddy" movie).  One of the new showrooms that totally wowed me was Jean de Merry showroom on the 18th floor. It pretty much knocked my socks off with the pure beauty of the items. I snapped a few pictures, but they really do not do the space any sort of justice.

  

  

As always, it is a pleasure to walk around another design center and learn about new sources, see new product and meet wonderful people. After a long day trekking around the mart, I went to go and check out the model showcase homes for the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Michigan Avenue. Wow. Located in the limestone clad Farwell Building, which has always been one of my favorites along the "Magnificent Mile", the residences are in a newly created 40 story high-rise that is connected to the lovingly restored 11 story original building.

Hands down, I thought that the best unit was put together by local Chicago designer, Frank Ponterio. For taking on the smallest unit, it had the most personal and intimate feel. They almost needed to resuscitate me after I encountered the mosaic floor in the powder room. There were personal touches, surprises that made you think twice and the reinvention of classic design elements. Basically, everything that gets me really excited! This space was elegant, yet really livable and as a testament to the effort involved into creating such a personal space, we were told that the unit sold fully furnished. Below are a few quick snap shots of the space. The last three photos are from L.A based designer, Julia Wong, who created the vibe of an urban sophisticate meets laid back California glam and Javier Martin Muriel, out of Spain, who created a luxurious clean and contemporary environment. The last photo is of awesome light fixtures in the lobby.

  

   

  

If you are in downtown Chicago, go to check out the show house would be a fun way to spend an hour or so one afternoon. The other units are awesome as well, I just didn't want to be paparazzi-extraordiniare (and, um, my phone died). They also have a 20 minute video about the entire preservation project, which really hits on the passion and energy put into creating the modern day living spaces.  If those weren't enough reasons to get down there, the money from ticket sales goes to the Art Institute. In a day an age in which the arts rely so heavily on donations that might be reason enough!

One of the perks of driving to Chicago was that I was able to hit up some places that weren't exactly in walking distance. Taking a few last minute suggestions I hit up some new places on our way out of town. They were pretty... magical.

  

Alright, I am off to delight in this beautiful Saturday! I hope you all do the same... enjoy!