Composting with worms is sooooooo outdated. That’s but one of the conversational threads I picked up last night on a preview tour of the new Smart Home at the Museum of Science and Industry. I went in expecting to see the typical “eco” flourishes—bamboo flooring, energy efficient windows, dual-flush toilets—and I came out geeking over the interior design with my pal Heather Blaha, who edits Apartment Therapy Chicago. Apartment Therapy has a photo tour here.

Everyone last night was talking about the California-based architect, Michelle Kaufmann, who designed the pre-fab home for a Chicago corner lot. You can hear her discuss the genesis of the project here.

Pre-fabulousness aside, I was wowed by the interior, so I put in a call this morning to another Michele—Michele Fitzpatrick of Verde Design Studio on West Armitage. In under four weeks, Fitzpatrick and her crew sourced all of the furniture and accessories for the home (at MSI until January 2009). All of it, Fitzpatrick says, is from local designers, many of whom are young and not yet on the city’s design radar. “We wanted to the house to be reflective of what’s available locally,” she says. I admired, in particular, a dining room table made from a fallen tree in a Chicago park, this by a local named Terry Karpowicz. Fitzpatrick paired it with mid-Century modern chairs from a resale shop (resale, she says, is effectively recycling—I’m a resale junkie so I dig that thought). And the adjacent sofa? Fitzpatrick found it while thrifting and had it recovered in recycled material. In fact, every piece comes with its own backstory—down to the quirky bowls that hold the fruit; a local cement company, Concrete Age, in Pilsen, makes the bowls out of its remnants. Admittedly, the signage in the house doesn’t tell you much of this, but there is a resource guide online. If you’re curious like me, it’s probably worth printing, as most of the stuff is functional AND stylish AND inspirational. Sums up Fitzpatrick: “We wanted to show that green doesn’t mean that you’re sitting on upholstered bales of hay.”


Photography: (Image 1) Janel Laban; (Image 2) JB Spector, Museum of Science and Industry