Designer Doug Nickless put outdoor furniture in a living room; Matt Lorenz put tile in a bedroom; Douglas Levine designed a home office without a desk. But perhaps the biggest statement was made by Martial (1640 N. Wells St., 312-642-4533; whose virtually chairless, monastic dining room had many visitors scratching their heads. The French-born designer (who goes by his first name only) has become a bit of a sensation since moving here from Paris in 2001. His elegant makeover of a Lincoln Park residence led to an ever-growing list of tony Chicago clients, and a Miami project (an all-white townhouse with one black wall in each room) will soon appear in Metropolitan Home. Is it his French accent? His nonchalance? Something about this man makes his clients so dependent on him, he jokes, that he has been asked for advice on haircuts.We asked him about his room at the Mart:


You were called upon to display a collection. Why did you choose what you did? I love African art. I like the primitive and rough. And these statues can easily be moved from room to room.

What are the other important components of this space? The balance of light and dark, rough and soft, old and new, precious and rustic (for example, in the beautiful silk drapes and the more rustic linen tablecloth). Also an overall sense of quiet and calm.

Would you design a dining room like this for your clients? No. They would say the chairs are too uncomfortable. But I would design my own dining room like this.