During the turbulent year that was 2020, SP01 was lucky to have a set of wonderful global friends who championed the brand in their home city. From Amsterdam and Milan, to Hong Kong and Los Angeles, design businesses in far flung places were busy pivoting their retail stores to digital, taking their showrooms online, hosting clients one by one and working hard, behind the scenes, to keep things moving. In our new series GLOBAL FRIENDS we find out how 2020 treated each of them, and discover what they love most about their home city.
From Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and hidden underground bars, to design districts and daring skyscapers in Chicago, this month we profile Haute Living’s hometown as a great destination for architects, interior designers, and design enthusiasts from all over the world. This month manager Nate Ross and founding member Jefferey Smith, who showcase over 100 of the most progressive and innovative design brands from across the globe at Haute Living, give us a great snapshot of their city.
Haute Living’s 5 greatest buildings in Chicago, for art or architecture?
Chicago is the architectural mecca in the US, and its heritage is quite deeply woven into the fabric of the city. Architects like Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham, Mies van der Rohe, Bertrand Goldberg, Louis Skidmore (of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), and now Jeanne Gang, have all called Chicago home. From the beginnings of modern architecture, to pushing the limits of what’s possible today, Chicago has always been a place of ground-breaking experimentation with the artform of architecture. Here's five of literally hundreds of buildings that are truly "great", in no particular order:
The Monadnock Building - The Monadnock Building by Burnham and Root, 1881-1893, was the tallest load bearing brick building ever constructed at the time, and was the largest office building in the world at the time of completion. It's a modern masterpiece. The Palace of Fine Arts - Historically speaking, the Palace of Fine Arts, now the Museum of Science and Industry, is one of the greatest neoclassical style buildings in the United States. It was built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and originally was our natural history museum until it became the Science and Industry Museum in 1933. Designed by Charles Atwood and Daniel Burnham, and also William Le Baron Jenney, the Father of the American skyscraper.
It is a distinct tower of polished black granite and tapers to a 24k gold leaf and bronze spire, unlike other art deco style buildings in Chicago that usually use beige limestone. It transitioned from the Union Carbide Corporation to Hard Rock Hotel in 2004, and is now the Pendry Chicago Hotel.
The Palace of Fine Arts - Historically speaking, the Palace of Fine Arts, now the Museum of Science and Industry, is one of the greatest neoclassical style buildings in the United States. It was built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and originally was our natural history museum until it became the Science and Industry Museum in 1933. Designed by Charles Atwood and Daniel Burnham, and also William Le Baron Jenney, the Father of the American skyscraper.
The Merchandise Mart - We can't forget "The Mart", formally known as the Merchandise Mart, known for its showrooms and its role as a leading innovator in fashion and home design. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, it is an art deco style behemoth right on the Chicago River where retailers once came to buy all their products. Previously owned by the Kennedy family and known for being exclusive to the trade, it is now open to the public and is host to many different types of businesses, including advertising and tech. When it opened in 1930, it was the single largest building in the world - it was so large in fact it had its own zip code until 2008.
The Carbide and Carbon Building - Another art deco building with the stand-out architecture is the Carbide and Carbon building, located on the Magnificent Mile and designed by the Burnham Brothers in 1929. It is a distinct tower of polished black granite and tapers to a 24k gold leaf and bronze spire, unlike other art deco style buildings in Chicago that usually use beige limestone. It transitioned from the Union Carbide Corporation to Hard Rock Hotel in 2004, and is now the Pendry Chicago Hotel.
St. Regis Chicago (Vista Tower) - Designed by Jeanne Gang and completed in 2020, the St. Regis Chicago is the third tallest highrise in Chicago, and the tallest structure in the world designed by a woman architect. Set on where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan, the structure of three blue-green glass towers undulates up to soaring heights, redefining our ever-evolving skyline, the most spectacular skyline in the world.
What’s the current vibe with retail in Chicago in terms of Biden’s election and following Covid-19?
The vibe in Chicago is just to continue to be safe as we wait for more people to become vaccinated. Generally speaking, everyone has been wearing masks and continues to be respectful of all the safety guidelines. We are now seeing both the retail and restaurant sectors gaining momentum, and by mid-summer, if all goes well with the vaccine rollout, we should be back to what it was pre-pandemic, or even better, which is very exciting.
What is something that Haute Living as a business will take away from your experience of the changes and disruptions of 2020?
The main takeaway from 2020 was the reminder that nothing in life, or in business, is static. The importance of adaptability became paramount - adapting in how we operate, communicate, and in how we market our business and products. Accepting this change, which resulted in thinking in new ways and approaching things differently, was really the silver lining of 2020.
What is the company’s favourite SP01 piece and Why? We all love Tim Rundle's Caristo Highback Armchair, especially ours in the carbon stained ash and Cairo Japanese Red velvet fabric - a structured, yet luscious armchair. We will soon have Metrica's Yee Storage on display, which we are very excited about. The retro design met with functionality is the beauty of this piece. We are also highly anticipating Nikolai Kotlarczyk's Royce Armchairs - a small club chair with a big personality!
Where would your team recommend to people as the best neighbourhood for design in Chicago? There are pockets of design all over Chicago, in many of the city’s neighbourhoods. However, for a good concentration of design we'd recommend the River North Design District, where Haute Living is located. Our location is unique as it is off the busy path of River North and in a neighbourhood setting, with a park across the street. We're in an 1880's loft-style building, once home to a bicycle manufacturer - so lots of history and character. Another upcoming design area of Chicago is Fulton Market, once the main meatpacking district, it's now home to Knoll, Herman Miller, and other showrooms previously located at the Merchandise Mart.
Best neighbourhood - on the wrong side of the tracks/ nightlife according to the team at Haute Living? Well it depends who you ask on our team, how old they are, and what they consider the "wrong side" of town! But for a younger set Bucktown, Wicker Park, and Logan Square are great neighborhoods for pubs, live music, and hidden gems, some of which have no signage, you just have to know about them. For a classic night out in Chicago, the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park are two neighborhoods with a great mix of old and new. There are restaurants that are 50-60 years old or even older, mixed with avant-garde spots that have ever evolving menus and concepts. One thing is for certain, Chicago likes a good time, and good food, no matter what side of the tracks you're on.
What do you think is truly special about your city? Chicago is one of the great global cities known for business, culture, and the arts. A city that gave the world its first skyscraper; a city famously known as home to mobsters Al Capone and Bugs Moran (among many!) and also for being the center for blues and jazz music in the United States - oh, and the "Windy" city with all it's hot air-filled politicians. But what makes Chicago distinctively unique is, though its sprawling size and large population, it comprises approximately 200 neighbourhoods along its shores and inland - all of which have their own identity and flavour. Very much like New York City, it is a melting pot of ethnicities and culture, but still manages to retain a "small town" vibe. As we like to say, it's the "Second City", but in a class all its own! Visiting Chicago?
The Haute Living showroom is located in Chicago's River North Design District, is an integral part of the Chicago design community, as well as serving as a national and international resource for the best modern and contemporary design today.
213 W. Institute Place Chicago, IL 60610 (Corner of Franklin & Institute)
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