549 N. Wells St., 312-329-9669, mobilimobel.com
For years, Italian designers cornered the contemporary furniture market. So it’s refreshing to see a River North show room that purveys something different: sleek and versatile German-Swiss designs. “We carry high-end, good quality furniture that is unique to the U.S. but well known in Europe,” says Mobili Möbel co-owner Kevin Schwartzberg, who ticks off lines like Team 7,
a wood furniture company that sells throughout Europe but is scarce in the United States, and the luxurious Swiss brand De Sede, whose fans include celebrities from 50 Cent to Julie Andrews.
But what shoppers will really like: Nearly everything is custom. There are hundreds of choices: A sofa, for instance, can be designed according to size (a two-seater, three-seater, sectional, or chaise) or density of cushion (firm for a formal, upright living room or cushy for kicking back and watching football). Most orders require a 12- to 16-week lead-time.
Schwartzberg, 32, worked for five years for another River North show room (he won’t say which) before deciding to go out on his own. He wanted to open a low-key, unstuffy store, so he teamed up with husband-and-wife duo Melissa Steele and Tom Tometz. (Steele, the shop’s accessories guru, came from the spa industry and Tometz sells Italian veneers to designers and architects.) “I don’t have to wear a tuxedo, and you don’t have to wear one to shop to learn about great products,” Schwartzberg says of his customer service mentality. “If you want to sit on a couch and read a magazine for an hour to see if you like it, go right ahead.” He’ll even bring you espresso or coffee while you sit.
Photography: Courtesy of Nanette Lepore