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The Hot List: 25 Chicago Creatives You Need To Know

The Editors | February 18, 2021 | Home & Real Estate

Get to know the 25 interior designers, architects and showrooms shaping the Chicago decor scene.

The shared amenity spaces at Wolf Point East, including the sports lounge shown here, were designed by Soucie Horner Ltd.’s SH Studio division.
The shared amenity spaces at Wolf Point East, including the sports lounge shown here, were designed by Soucie Horner Ltd.’s SH Studio division. Most of the furniture and fabrics are from Holly Hunt, Knoll and Muuto. The sofas and lamps are custom, and the rug is custom designed by SHIIR (Soucie Horner’s custom rug division in partnership with Oscar Isberian Rugs).

The Designers & Architects

Alexandra Kaehler

With a collected feel, interior designer Alexandra Kaehler’s projects are a mashup of eclecticism. This one to watch’s magical touch was recently on display at the 2020 Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens, in which Kaehler put her signature stamp on a teen girl’s hangout room, complete with madcap wallcoverings and a sofa in the grandmillennial style du jour. 928 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, alexandrakaehler.com

Craig & Company

From a Ritz-Carlton residence to a Michigan Avenue pied-à-terre, Craig & Company’s designs are always polished thanks to leader Joan Craig’s discerning eye. With a presence in both Chicago and New York, this incomparable firm is putting its stamp on residential, hospitality and commercial projects across both culture capitals. 4 E. Ohio St., Ste. 10, craigandco.com

Dspace Studio

Whether it’s renovating an 1880s-era Wicker Park two-flat, realizing the perfect Lake Michigan retreat or updating a Gold Coast penthouse, pushing the envelope is the name of the game for this Lakeview-based residential and commercial firm, conceived by founding principal Kevin Toukoumidis and co-led with principals Tom Hagerty and Robert McFadden. 2920 N. Lincoln Ave., dspacestudio.com


A Kenmore kitchen by Soucie Horner Ltd. marries a monochromatic palette with luxe materials.
A kitchen by Soucie Horner Ltd. marries a monochromatic palette with luxe materials.

Eva Quateman Interiors

Be it a stately Lincoln Park co-op or a dazzling Streeterville pied-à-terre, traditional luxury characterizes Eva Quateman’s work across striking Gold Coast, River North, Michigan Avenue and citywide dwellings. The designer’s touch also infuses Eva Quateman Essentials, her eponymous line of handmade consoles, chairs and other fetching accents. 220 W. Huron St., Ste. 2002, evaquateman.com

Frank Ponterio Design

This revered pro’s sweeping, 25-year-plus portfolio demonstrates a firm adherence to heritage and quality. Outside of his highly regarded residential work, Frank Ponterio applies the same qualities to collaborations with Lee Jofa, Avrett, Clarence House and Arteriors. 500 N. Wells St., Ste. 3, frankponterio.com

Gemma Parker Design

With a keen understanding of color, texture and scale, Gemma Parker-McKeon orchestrates inviting expanses in the Windy City and beyond. She effects tasteful pattern play and excited, unexpected use of materials to create atmospheres that feel at once wholly new but simultaneously lived-in. gemmaparkerdesign.com

 Interior designer Nicholas Moriarty bathroom remodel
Of this bathroom remodel, interior designer Nicholas Moriarty says, “We added decorative beams with integrated lighting to right-size the scale of the room. A soft palette of warm gray was used to give the space a calming feel.”

James Thomas Interiors

Timeless design gets a dash of modern-day pizzazz under the direction of principals James Dolenc and Tom Riker. Th e firm refracts conventional cues through a fresh lens, creating spaces that endure without ever feeling aged. 900 N. Franklin St., Ste. 800, jamesthomaschicago.com

Jessica Lagrange Interiors

Th is industry vet has garnered praise for its artful adaptability, whether articulating modern minimalism, well-appointed luxury or vivid eclecticism spanning the Gold Coast to the North Shore. Led by principal Jessica Lagrange, no project is too much for this inspired team (even outfitting a Lake Geneva yacht). 216 W. Chicago Ave., jessicalagrange.com

A modern living room in Wicker Park from Michael Abrams Interiors
A modern living room in Wicker Park from Michael Abrams Interiors

Kadlec Architecture + Design

Building a name off the strength of highly personalized work that sensitively navigates concerns both practical and aesthetic, founder and principal Steve Kadlec and the company’s cohesive approach has graced modern-bent lakefront retreats, posh pieds-à-terre and commercial locales. 110 W. Kinzie St., 4th Floor, kadlecdesign.com

Kaufman Segal Design

Founders David Kaufman and Tom Segal’s sterling reputation on the Windy City design circuit is backed up with a portfolio of nuanced, unfussy design. Th is smart, focused aesthetic doesn’t sacrifice personality: be it a Wrigleyville loft, a Lake Shore Drive dwelling, an Edgewater duplex or commercial clients. 900 N. Franklin St., Ste. 710, kaufmansegal.com

A Summer Thornton-designed living room
This Summer Thornton-designed living room was part of a Gold Coast co-op remodel.

Michael Abrams

Classic comfort anchors Michael Abrams’ practice, established in 1999 by the New York-born, South Carolina-raised designer. Whether it’s imbuing a Gold Coast billiards room with graceful machismo, realizing a light-resplendent sunroom in a lakeside house, or digging into projects in Miami, Park City or Captiva Island, a palpable sense of tradition permeates Abrams’ work—without defining it. “While I don’t follow trends because they tend to be shortlived,” the designer says, “I do believe good, simple, classic details will stand the test of time.” 1901 N. Clybourn Ave., michaelabrams.com

Morgante Wilson Architects

With an eye toward livability, Morgante Wilson Architects puts its clients at the center of design—exactly where they belong. Recently, the firm collaborated on new River West luxury residential community Westerly. 2834 Central St., Evanston, morgantewilson.com

Nicholas Moriarty Interiors

Crisp, uncluttered design is Nicholas Moriarty’s calling card, whether he’s livening up a South Loop condo, reimagining a Bucktown kitchen or rejuvenating an Evanston unit. For 2021, he predicts “color and materiality will be huge.” Adding, “We envision the continued proliferation of blues and green along with highly tactile and textural architectural materials.” nm-interiors.com

A Lincoln Park home from Vincere Ltd.
This Lincoln Park home from Vincere Ltd. is a story of family comfort meets upscale modern decor. Located between the family and dining room, the kitchen is light and open.

Sasha Adler Design

When Sasha Adler struck out on her own after serving as design director for Nate Berkus Associates for 14 years, there was little doubt she’d soar. Th e solo chapter has taken her to new heights, literally: Past commissions include a private aircraft. 202 E. Walton St., sashaadler.com

Soucie Horner Ltd.

Principals Shea Soucie and Martin Horner and company do it all and then some. Th ere’s Soucie Horner Interiors (boasting residential work in Manhattan, London and the British Virgin Islands); SH Studio, offering design expertise for commercial developments; and Soucie Horner Collection, touting custom lighting, furniture and a high-end rug collection. Recently, Soucie has spotted a “renewed interest in furnishings and accessories with history— things that already come with stories and some soul. ... We’re buying from auction houses all over the country and in Europe, and we’re not alone. Our antique dealer friends tell us business is booming.” 208 W. Kinzie St., 4th Floor, souciehorner.com

Studio Gild

Energized by a clean, tailored aesthetic, the understated élan conjured by Melissa Benham, Jennie Bishop and Kristen Ekeland’s Chicago- and Los Angeles-based firm is farreaching— from a Tribeca penthouse to a Denver flour millcum- loft. Th e firm’s Wicker Park HQ also houses Gild Assembly, a retail gallery; a portion of the proceeds supports Gild Foundation, its nonprofit that helps orgs like Greater Chicago Food Depository. 2110 N. Damen Ave., studiogild.com

Summer Thornton Design

Few harness color as creatively as Summer Thornton, whose unapologetically to-the-nines embrace of intense chromas, vibrant hues and maximal motifs has won the 12-person firm fanfare and clients across the map. The team has left its splashy stamp on homes locally, as well as in Atlanta; Naples, Fla.; and Traverse City, Mich. 826 W. Armitage Ave., Ste. 3, summerthorntondesign.com

Tom Stringer Design Partners

What do the inside of a 156-foot motor yacht and worldfamous Alinea restaurant have in common? The imprint of Tom Stringer Design Partners, for which no task seems too tall, be it injecting coastal cool into a Santa Barbara residence or refreshing a North Shore lakefront retreat. Just flip through his monograph, An Adventurous Life: Global Interiors by Tom Stringer, to see how the designer’s global travels influence his work. 919 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 320, tomstringer.com

Vincere Ltd.

Effortless elegance comes naturally to principals Michael Stornello and Tom Konopiots, stamping their imprint on LA abodes and casting their vision of stately sophistication across the city. “Our single-family clients,” Konopiots notes, “are asking us to fully trick out their homes with ultraluxury amenities, including Zoom rooms with zing, spalike home gyms, bars and wine-tasting environments to rival their favorite haunts, and multifunctional spaces that let everyone work from home in style and comfort.” 124 W. Kinzie St., 2nd Floor, vincereltd.com

The Showrooms

210 Design House

Home projects become much less daunting at this River North Design District go-to, showcasing primo kitchen cabinetry, closets and other necessities from heavy hitters Snaidero, Plain & Fancy and MisuraEmme. 210 W. Illinois St., 210designhouse.com

Holly Hunt

At the eponymous showroom of this A-list designer, browse furniture by Caste, Formations and Gregorius|Pineo; textiles from Dedar, Hermès and Pierre Frey; and products by Pagani Studio (and these are just a few). 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Ste. 1428, hollyhunt.com

In the master bedroom, the headboard wall is sheathed in imported leather tile.
In the master bedroom, the headboard wall is sheathed in imported leather tile.

Studio41

The grandest design dreams are set into motion at this do-it-all favorite, beckoning with a robust suite of kitchen and bath fixtures, cabinet and door hardware, window treatments and more from Kohler, Moen, Grohe, Blanco and other designer-approved brands. 225 W. Hubbard St., shopstudio41.com

WPA Chicago

This mainstay source for Chicago designers revamped an old warehouse space to become the first monobrand location of the B&B Italia Group in the U.S. The 7,000-square-foot space pays homage to the architectural bones of the building while providing a beautiful backdrop to highlight furnishings from B&B Italia, Maxalto and Arclinea. 314 W. Superior St., wpachicago.com

Brizo

Brizo brings stately elegance and world-class design to the kitchen and bath with its sleek offerings. Currently on our wish list is the Kintsu bath collection, which melds Scandinavian minimalism with Japanese wabisabi philosophy for a result that’s a knockout of angular geometrics rendered in black, gold, nickel and chrome. 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Ste. 127, brizo.com

Boffi Chicago

Steeped in Italian modernism, Boffidelivers intelligent design for the kitchen, bath and outdoors. Its kitchen systems are the epitome of minimalist-chic, notably the Combine collection—a series of monoblocks, or modular kitchen cabinets and drawers, that can be (you guessed it) combined with different worktops and extractable tables. 309 W. Superior St., boffi.com



Photography by: DUSTIN HALLECKM; WERNER STRAUBE; JILL BUCKNER; RYAN MCDONALD