Colleague Spotlight: Shea Soucie

Today I am pleased to share an interview with Chicago interior architecture legend Shea Soucie. In 2000, she partnered with Martin Horner (they once studied together at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris) to create Soucie Horner, a highly successful full-service interior architecture and design firm. I am a huge admirer of their luxurious and glamorous work, and am grateful to Shea for sharing her thoughts on the blog! 

Please share a little about your design philosophy.

We believe good design can actually define lifestyle—the lifestyle our clients lead now, or the lifestyle they aspire to lead in their new home. It’s not about us having a “look” we’re known for. It’s about getting to the heart of what individual clients are passionate about—how they like to spend their time, how they interact with their families, how they entertain—all those things drive our designs and result in intensely personal homes. 

Can you share a few photos from a recent favorite project? 

We just completed a project in Naples, Florida, for a long-time client with a deep appreciation for all manner of architectural styles. He had the passion to transform his dream of incorporating that variety in a single-family home. It includes aspects of Florentine palazzos, Swiss chalets, and Low-country fishing huts—it was an interesting challenge and turned out beautifully.

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?

We don’t consider ourselves trend-watchers. We’re more about classic, timeless design—though we certainly like to take fresh approaches to our work on a project-by-project basis. Certain things, in my mind, will always be in style, and those things will always excite us—rugs and decorative accessories that are handcrafted by skilled artisans, for example, that can really give a room soul.

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?

Again, I don’t really like to call them trends—but I will say there are some things that are getting my attention. People—our clients, at least—are starting to think in terms of curating furniture collections just as they curate art collections. That’s becoming an interesting shift to me. We saw a lot of cinnabar colors at Art Basel in Miami, which was also interesting.

What are your go-to classic design favorites?

We like to incorporate custom SHIIR rugs in every project we can—they’re highly nuanced designs hand-woven in luxury fibers like cashmere and silk by artisans who learned the skill from their parents and grandparents. We also like to use Lynda O’Connor’s pillows—she makes them out of antique textiles that are interpreted in a uniquely modern way. They’re one-of-a-kind artworks.  

What are your favorite local shops for furniture and decor?

RedefinedThe Golden TriangleRevival, and Pavilion.

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?

Let a room breathe – don’t fill every inch with furniture. Use glass tables you can see through, and furnishings with legs that show open space beneath. And of course, mirrors are a great way to bounce light and views around and expand the feel of a room.

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?

I go to different neighborhoods for different reasons. The Southport Corridor has terrific food options. Logan Square is always fun to spend time in. And I love the theaters and architecture in Uptown. 

What types of services do you offer?

We’re actually comprised of three business divisions: luxury residential interior design, commercial project development, and custom products including lighting, furniture, and textiles. But if you’re asking about our interior design division specifically, we do everything from plan and elevation analysis and specifications for furniture, fabric, color, materials, and lighting, to product procurement and expediting and move-in and installation. We also provide household staff training and landscape consulting services.

Colleague Spotlight: Pappageorge Haymes Partners

I am so pleased to feature Pappageorge Haymes Partners today as part of our ongoing Colleague Spotlight series. This architectural firm has been in business for 37 years, and during that time they’ve designed countless Chicago homes including condos, high-rise apartments, town homes, and beautiful single family houses. Their team is dynamic, experienced, and extraordinary at what they do. I’m grateful to partner Brian Kidd for sharing his thoughts about architecture and design on the blog! 

Please share a little about your design philosophy. 

Since its founding in 1981, Pappageorge Haymes Partners has cultivated an enduring legacy of timeless architecture that embodies the unique visions of our clients and harmoniously embraces the essence of each project’s context and spirit of place. In our role as architect, we consistently fuse a deeply imaginative aesthetic with technical innovation and a rigorously practical approach to budget and schedule. 

PH’s body of work ranges from small renovations to skyline impacting high-rises and our expertise in urban housing, adaptive reuse, and mixed-use developments continues to receive both local and national awards. 

Can you share a few photos from a recent favorite project? 

(Photos above)

1. Lincoln Park Exterior: We designed a high-end condominium building in the heart of Lincoln Park along with some very custom interiors. 

2. Lincoln Park Residence: A more traditional home in Lincoln Park that has some modern touches. 

3. Pullman Bar & Diner: A cool diner that we designed the interior for in Iowa. 

4. Lincoln Park Traditional Interior: Classically detailed traditional interior. 

5. 465 N Park: A modern residential tower currently under construction.

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends? 

For exteriors, we eschew anything that could be considered trendy. We carefully consider our client’s requirements with the history and style of the neighborhood in which the building is to be built or renovated to develop designs that are unique. We believe that trends are best incorporated in the interior spaces, thereby allowing the building to evolve as trends change. Currently, interiors are incorporating bold colors and contrasts of texture, natural and machined finishes, and dark and light finishes. 

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see? 

Changes in the technology and environmental sectors are driving quality over quantity in new developments and renovations. Technology continues to advance in simplifying the user experience and changes the way we incorporate it into our lives and living spaces. The importance of conservation of resources will continue to grow with more efficient construction and building systems. These forces are behind the movement for smaller, more efficient, houses with multi-functioning spaces that are designed to adapt to changing lifestyles. 

What are your go-to classic design favorites? 

For classic design, we follow the tenets of a true classic. Vitruvius, a Roman architect and author of De architectura, described a triad of structure, function and aesthetics that is often referred to as the Vitruvian Triad. It’s a bit like the golden rule of architecture. These timeless tenets still guide us today no matter what the stylistic approach to the project may be. At PH, we design for strength, usefulness, and beauty. 

What are your favorite local shops for appliances and decor? 

With the PH office located in the heart of Chicago, we have numerous resources available throughout the metropolitan area and we have developed great working relationships with them. While we certainly cannot list all of these businesses here, a few that come to mind are Abt Appliances in Glenview, IL; Advantage Kitchen & Bath Gallery in Niles, IL; and Studio 41 Home Design with various locations throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Additionally, we often send clients to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to visit the home design showrooms there. 

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open? 

There are no tricks, only expert design! Seriously, though, as you can see by our other responses to your questions, design is a process that takes numerous factors into account. In addition to the client’s requirements and budget, we look at the intended use of the space and the surrounding environment to seek a solution that is unique. 

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why? 

What makes Chicago great is the diverse tapestry of neighborhoods that make up the fabric of the city. It is difficult to choose one part of the city over another. We work in many neighborhoods throughout the city and the more time you spend in each of the different neighborhoods you find these unique and memorable places that offer unique perspectives on what it is to live in Chicago. At PH, our designs are developed to promote the community of Chicago’s neighborhoods. We believe this diverse landscape in which we work has allowed PH to develop a very adaptable and innovative architecture team. 

What types of services do you offer? 

What do you need? We are known for our expertise in housing but have a tremendous amount of experience in many other facets of the profession. In addition to the custom single family work, we are working on large master planning projects, retail, office interiors, hospitality and hotel work, restaurant design and numerous historic renovations and restorations. 

Colleague Spotlight: Summer Thornton

“Do at least one thing your mother wouldn’t.” This is decorating advice from interior designer Summer Thornton, and I couldn’t love it more! I’m so pleased to feature Summer on the blog this week—she’s renowned for her bold use of color and pattern, and her stunning work is featured regularly in House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Lonny, and many others. Lately I’m feeling especially inspired by her use of incredible statement light fixtures! Though Summer works on projects nationwide, we are so lucky to have her based not only out of Chicago, but Lincoln Park specifically.

Please share a little about your design philosophy.
My philosophy is really centered around the belief that every home should reflect the homeowner's unique personality. So while I have my own personal aesthetic, much of what I do is centered around creating the mood that the client wants to live in. I want people to live in homes that feel like them - where their soul is on the walls and reflected in the furniture. Every project we work on looks totally unique to that particular client - some are modern, some are traditional, some colorful - that's what makes them so personal. With that said, I do generally find that clients come to us when they're looking for interiors that feel fresh & timeless, oftentimes with color and pattern, and definitely a dash of whimsy.

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?
I honestly don't really like to follow trends. Once something is a trend, it has lost its timelessness and its specialness. Instead of trends, I typically try to look for what's timeless but still feels fresh, and oftentimes I do that by incorporating pieces from a variety of eras. We'll mix art deco, mid-century, and contemporary pieces together to create a look that is curated and timeless but still feels current. Sure we might mix in a few trendy accessories here and there, but they shouldn't be the backbone of any design.  

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?
I think there will be a big resurgence for wallpaper over the next 5-10 years. People were afraid of it, fearing it would feel heavy and old, but I use it quite regularly and it always feels fresh. I think we'll also see a shift away from the overuse of beige/grey and more people comfortable using color & pattern.

What are your go-to classic design favorites?
You can't go wrong with classic Karl Springer, Jansen, or Milo Baughman furnishings. 

What are your favorite local shops for furniture and decor?
It's hard to pick just a few - last year we bought from more than 2000 different vendors worldwide, but here in Chicago I love Redefined Decor on Grand for accessories and vintage art; Jayson Home for furnishings & some imported flea market finds; and Asrai Garden for fresh floral bouquets. 

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?
You know what surprises most people? The more you layer a home, the bigger it feels. It causes the eye to move around and draws attention to various things, which makes the room feel more complete. When rooms are sparsely furnished or empty, they oftentimes look really small.  

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?
I live in Lincoln Park, our design firm office is in Lincoln Park on Armitage Avenue, and my kids go to school in Lincoln Park so it'd be hard for it not to be my favorite! But truly, it is perfect for my family. I've got a 5-year-old daughter and almost 1-year-old son, so we have regular trips to Oz Park, Sweet Mandy B's, and we don't feel bad bringing our kids with us to some of the restaurants. It's a great place to raise a family. But don't get me wrong - I also love a night out with my husband going to Gold Coast or the West Loop for drinks & dinner, without the kids! 

What types of services do you offer?
We are a full service design firm. Most often clients hire us to do comprehensive designs, in many cases including construction documentation, finish selections, and of course furnishings, art, and more. We've done everything from ground-up new construction builds, gut-remodels, and pure furnishings/decorating projects.

colleague spotlight: jordana joseph

Today we're pleased to continue our new blog series, which highlights some of my favorite interior designers and architects in Chicago. For our second feature, I’m happy to introduce you to the talented Jordana Joseph!  

Please share a little about your design philosophy.
Design should be fun, challenging, brave, smart and slightly carefree—at least for the client. For me it is all of those things but also about reading the mind of my clients, so I can learn their tastes and attitudes, both for design and for their expectations of the process. What I would choose personally is not always appropriate for other spaces, so I like to be a chameleon—it keeps my job challenging and rewarding.

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?
Blush is everywhere right now; it started on the runway a few years ago and filtered down to the sofas. And Maximalism—More is More, as long as it’s all well done.

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?
I see people getting a lot more daring in what they will have in their homes. I think the Monochromatic Days are finally over and cool boutique hotels are paving the way for inspiration. When people see well-designed spaces they start to understand that it is possible to incorporate some of that into their lives.

What are your go-to classic design favorites?
I love a perfectly comfortable sofa, great vintage furniture, courageous wallpaper, a well-planned kitchen, good flooring, and lots of opportunity for unique lighting.

What are your favorite local shops for furniture and decor?
Unfortunately a lot of the shops are closing, but luckily some of the best still remain and I love these stores as much for what they sell as who is selling it. These are my friends for years and they all have such a unique take on what they select: Pavilion Antiques, Jayson Home, Urban Artifacts on Lincoln, Sojourn in Michigan, Vern + Vera. I buy a lot at auction so I am hanging around Leslie Hindman Auctioneers and Wright quite often.

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?
Design is always first and foremost about proportions of the room and the furniture that should go in it; this often is a designer’s greatest contribution to a project. If the scale is right, the room will look its best.

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?
I love the older houses in Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast. There is nothing better to work with than an original vintage space.

What types of services do you offer?
We do everything from staging to total renovations and have been involved in ground up custom home building as well. I have the best clients and a really great team in my office so thankfully we have been able to tackle just about anything that comes our way!