Chicago, Illinois - 2014
The world traveling client for this apartment renovation wanted a distinct yet comfortable home to serve as his Chicago landing pad. Although the apartment featured stellar skyline and lake views its jumbled layout and bland materials lacked any sense of distinction.
Inverting convention, the new character of the apartment is shaped more by what is absent than by what has been added. Voids of varying size between interlocking American Black Walnut panels distinguishes a wall that runs through the public spaces, screening off the master suite and mechanicals. Rather than using applied knobs or pulls to provide decorative interest, cabinetry and doors are detailed with integral reveals. Aside from a sculptural pendant at the dining table, decorative lighting is absent; in its place are a series of gaps between wall planes that hide lighting within. A simple lacquered wall in the kitchen serves as a backdrop for key objects sitting on blackened steel shelves. Sliding doors of smoked glass screen the home office from the living room; one's eye is drawn not such much to the doors themselves but what their transparency reveals.
The precise, austere architecture of the apartment is balanced and enlivened by its furnishings. A newly issued B&B Italia sectional sofa covered in charcoal mohair anchors the living room and sits atop a custom wool and sink rug. Nearby, the iconic Eileen Gray Transit Chair provides a contrast in materials, vintage, and form. The homeowner's interest in travel informed acquisitions such as the 1930s nickel replica of the Art Deco Pioneer Zephyr train which was found in London (the original train now resides just five miles south at the Museum of Science and Industry). Above the oak desk in the home office hangs an over-scaled contemporary photograph by Daniel Beltra which documents the recovery efforts initiated after the recent Gulf Oil spill. The raw natural beauty of the rich cerulean waters is heightened by its endangered, precarious status.