40 Reasons to Love Chicago

Because Chicago’s shopkeepers put Midwest designers front and center

Meet the owners of some of our favorite home design shops and the homegrown talent they’ve helped nurture.


From left to right: Vodak and Harris, with Harris’s repurposed-globe lamp ($895); Finney-Hoffman, Peterson, and Owens-Agase, with a Lapel credenza ($2,400); Slivinski and Del Piero, with a light fixture fashioned by Slivinski from a salvaged birdcage ($6,500–$7,500); Nesci (left) and Sinoway, with one of Nesci’s powder-coated-steel stools (two more pictured far left; $500–$800 each)

 


SHOPKEEPER
Larry Vodak


ARTISAN
Ted Harris

1 “Truth be known, I was scared to death of lamps,” says Vodak, thinking back six years to the opening of his Andersonville antique store, Scout (5221 N. Clark St.; scoutchicago.com). At the time, the available options struck him as either too costly or too humdrum. Luckily, a collaborator entered that first week. “It’s curious: While I noticed so many beautiful and unique things in the store, there seemed to be no real inventory of lamps,” says Harris, an illustrator turned Dumpster diver and reconfigurer. Soon Harris was creating lamps, furniture, and accessories out of found objects and vintage materials exclusively for Scout.

 


SHOPKEEPER

Angela Finney-Hoffman


ARTISAN
Tyler Peterson


ARTISAN

Shaun Owens-Agase

2 When Finney-Hoffman and her husband opened the West Town furniture and design store Post 27 (1819 W. Grand Ave.; post27store.com) in 2008, they started hosting monthly “inspiration hours” and inviting local artisans. Owens-Agase and Peterson—University of Wisconsin–Madison grads who use the moniker Stone Blitzer—became regulars, and a partnership with Finney-Hoffman was born. Designing under the name Lapel, the trio began crafting built-ins for homes and has since graduated to a line of walnut credenzas that double as media consoles. “We share a lot of the same tastes and values within furniture design,” says Owens-Agase, citing environmental sustainability and domestic production.

 


SHOPKEEPER
Michael Del Piero


ARTISAN

Lucy Slivinski

3 The hunt for just the right light fixture to hang in a client’s dining room led Del Piero to Slivinski’s East Garfield Park workshop in May 2007. “Michael and I connected instantly,” recalls the installation artist and sculptor Slivinski, who typically creates large-scale pieces for museums and parks. But when Del Piero opened her Bucktown boutique, Michael Del Piero Good Design (1914 N. Damen Ave.; michaeldelpiero.com), in 2008, she asked Slivinski to create a line of home lighting exclusive to the shop; both women were pleasantly surprised when one piece sold in a day. Del Piero also claimed one of Slivinski’s sculptures for her own Gold Coast living room. “I knew what genius I was witness to,” Del Piero says.

 


SHOPKEEPER
Morlen Sinoway


ARTISAN
Jonathan Nesci

4 The industrial designer Nesci divides his time between Scottsburg, Indiana, a town of 6,500, where he lives in a 125-year-old former bank, and Chicago, where he works out of a West Loop studio near Sinoway’s namesake atelier (1052 W. Fulton Market; morlensinoway.com). The two first met in 2006, when Nesci, who works under the name Hale, was a 3-D design student at Moraine Valley Community College, moonlighting in restoration at the auction house Wright. Their paths crossed again in 2007, when Sinoway judged Nesci’s entries in a furniture design competition. Sinoway fell for Nesci’s minimalist aesthetic and decided to stock his handiwork: contemporary shelves, bookends, and stools. “Jonathan is truly a student of modern design,” Sinoway says.

 

Photograph: Andreas E. G. Larsson
Stylist: Nicole Stege  Hair and Makeup: Ashley Vest  Location: Lucy Slivinski Studio

Check back frequently for more reasons to love Chicago.

 

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