Jann Parr

Who doesn’t like to eavesdrop on shoptalk? Whether it’s doctors, pastry chefs, or design professionals talking about their work (and what really bugs them), it’s fun to be a fly on the wall when they get going. I got the chance recently at the North Side home of Martin Horner, of Soucie Horner, one of the city’s top interior design and architecture firms, as a guest at one of Martin and Shea Soucie’s quarterly “salon dinners” for the design industry.

Guests-academics, architects, designers, and business professionals-are assigned topics, such as promoting Chicago as a design center, but the conversation veered in many directions. Subjects included China’s emergence as a player in the production of design goods, custom furniture sources, and the emergence of   “buyer’s representatives” who act as proxies for buyers in negotiations associated with building a new home.

This was the second time in recent months that I’d been privy to Chicago designers talking shop. The first occasion was a Chicago HOME–sponsored town-hall discussion/cocktail party at the Chopping Block Cooking School in the Merchandise Mart, where the subject was kitchen trends. Claudia Skylar of Mastro & Skylar Architects raved about her new favorite counter material, an engineered quartz called CaesarStone. Designer Constantine D. Vasilios talked about how he likes to hang glass-backed cabinets in front of windows, offering a view beyond the dishes. Designer Frank Ponterio pays particular attention to the insides of cabinets, often lining the interior surfaces with fabric. It was lively and informative-we look forward to our next one in September, during which our invited guests from the design and building industries will debate the death of the dining room, among other topics.

Reading Chicago HOME is like being that fly on the wall. We scour the city for the best advice, sources, and ideas for making your home better, and pass it all on to you in the most user-friendly way possible. Each quarterly issue includes hundreds of listings for design resources. Because we don’t have space to print all of the categories we cover in every issue, we now run different categories each season. Check out chicagohomemag.com for the whole works-our complete guide to area shops, showrooms, and design professionals.

Jan Parr, Editor