Based on pedigree alone, Robert Segal, 33, and Alicia Rosauer, 30, seem destined to rise quickly in the design world. He’s the son of Crate & Barrel founders Gordon and Carole Segal; her mom’s a painter and her dad’s a landscape architect. The New Trier high-school sweethearts moved to Finland in 1999 to work for Marimekko, the long-standing textile and clothing design company. Four years later, they returned to Chicago, married, and started designing for Crate & Barrel and Chiasso, the contemporary home furnishings brand owned by Segal’s brother, Chris. Now Segal and Rosauer have launched Unison, their own line of boldly printed bedding, throw pillows, and home accessories (unisonhome.com). Here, a peek inside their West Loop condo
“[In Finland] they have a chain of really good thrift stores called UFF, and there are a lot of mini flea markets that come up in the summer,” Rosauer says. “You won’t think you’ll find anything and then there’s a whole bunch of Marimekko.” Rosauer snagged this vintage Marimekko jacket (1) at a bargain $40. “At an antique show, it would be $200,” she says.
On Their Nightstand
Two small blown-glass owls (3) by Finnish designer Oiva Toikka. “In the nighttime, when there’s just a little light, they look quite real-like feathers,” Rosauer says. While the couple do tend to collect multiple pieces from their favorite artists, they never obsess over obtaining an entire collection. “We just buy the ones we like as they come along,” Rosauer says.
Evidence of the couple’s time in Finland inhabits nearly every corner of their West Loop condo, which is housed in an old paper factory. Just how many of their possessions come from Scandinavia? “I’d say 70 percent,” Segal estimates. “Well, maybe 80 percent,” he says, ticking off favorites like vintage Kaj Franck cups (7) and Saara Hopea spice jars (8).
In Their Collection
A pair of sculptures by the Japanese designer Fujiwo Ishimoto, whom Rosauer and Segal befriended while working at Marimekko. The original, a one-of-a-kind burnt-tangerine ceramic entitled Beret (4), inspired the production piece: a clean, white ceramic bowl they’ve used to hold fruit. “There was this back-and-forth where Fujiwo needed to take the original so he could work on the production piece,” Rosauer says. “Eventually, he ended up just giving us both of them as a wedding gift.”
The Next Global Influence
The pair once spent a college spring break in Iceland and honeymooned in Japan. “There are a lot of similarities between Finland and Japan: the culture, the design, the sensibilities,” Segal says. Two small lacquered tea boxes (9) caught Rosauer’s sharp eye while browsing an antiques shop in Takayama: “I think they appeal to me because of the flat top and the round base.” Where will the couple travel next? “India,” Segal says. “It’s such a rich country for textiles.” “And the food’s great,” Rosauer adds. “Isn’t it usually all about the food?”
Their 12-foot ceilings, white walls, and minimal decorating aesthetic create a clean background for their art and collectibles. “The white-it’s timeless,” Rosauer says. To add punches of color to the monochromatic surroundings, they decorate with their own Unison square throw pillows (5) printed with larch branches ($52 at unisonhome.com).
How Design Influences Dinner
The birch dining-room table (2), a Finnish import by Alvar Aalto for Artek, happily demonstrates the marriage of form and function. (“Look at how the legs are only at the ends,” Rosauer says. “That way, nobody has to be bumping them the whole meal.”) “There’s an organic quality, a simplicity,” Segal says. “And we put it together!” adds Rosauer.
“Everything’s kind of smaller in Finland. Our dinner plates [vintage Birger Kaipiainen designs] (6) were like this,” Rosauer says, motioning with her hands. And when we came back to the States, we were like, everything’s huge!”
Photography: Lisa Predko