Kara Mann, Chicago’s fast rising interior designer, who’s in her 30s, invited two dozen or so interiors people, architects, and design types into her new showroom on Hubbard Street. The party had a look—that look—that we all try to achieve when we throw parties: classy, but with the idea that things could easily get slightly off-kilter. I guess it just looked fun. I took notes.

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Dinner Party with Kara Mann

This post could just as easily be called “How to Have a Dinner Party.” Earlier this week, Kara Mann, Chicago’s fast rising interior designer, who’s in her 30s, invited two dozen or so interiors people, architects, and design types into her new showroom on Hubbard Street. The party had a look—that look—that we all try to achieve when we throw parties: classy, but with the idea that things could easily get slightly off-kilter. I guess it just looked fun. I took notes.

This post could just as easily be called “How to Have a Dinner Party.” Earlier this week, Kara Mann, Chicago’s fast rising interior designer, who’s in her 30s, invited two dozen or so interiors people, architects, and design types into her new showroom on Hubbard Street. The party had a look-that look-that we all try to achieve when we throw parties: classy, but with the idea that things could easily get slightly off-kilter. I guess it just looked fun. I took notes.

 

1. Draft a dynamic guest of honor
The guest of honor was renaissance man-turned-furniture designer Jean de Merry, whose precision crafted leather chairs, chandeliers, and sconces are beyond striking-and beyond my budget. (Mann is the only Midwest showroom carrying his line.)

“I’m a very happy man,” said de Merry, who described over dinner his past careers writing novels and working as a diplomat in Pakistan. I loved listening to him talk about shopping flea markets and antique shows, and how he once dropped $200,000 in a mere 10 minutes.

 

2. Create a killer guest list
Several people commented that the guest list was a who’s who of the interior design community. I sat between Gary Lee and Marshall Erb (pictured), chatted briefly with Top Design winner Matt Lorenz, saw Maxine Snider, you get the idea.

 

3. Design a special table
For this night, Mann and her staff assembled one long black table with black chairs; over it hung two chandeliers by Mr. de Merry. The table, which was adorned with flowers and white pillar candles, perfectly embodied Mann’s goth-meets-Gold Coast aesthetic.

 

4. Get everyone sauced on Veuve Clicquot, and then serve the meal family-style
An hour of drinks and tours of the showroom was followed by a family-style meal (sea bass, beef, a pepper-stacked veggie lasagne) at the long table. The best part: chocolate cake accompanied by a pitcher of warm chocolate sauce.

 

5. Hire a rad DJ
Paul Blair, AKA DJ White Shadow (pictured)

 

6. Refuse to tire early
The party kept going even after all of the designers started trickling out. I tipped my last glass of Champagne at 11:30, then bid my adieu. Mann and her crew showed no signs of slowing down.

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