Modern Design 101: Simplicity

Posted on January 28th, 2015 by Alicia

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Simplicity. Even the word itself is beautiful – and rich in fresh, bright, and positive connotation.

As a company that embraces and purveys the modern, we live and breathe simplicity. Not only because it appeals to every clean-loving bone in our modern-loving bodies, but because it’s at the core of the design philosophy we represent.

The interior style of a home or public space is not a matter of taste alone. It’s also a reflection of certain beliefs and goals. So modern design is really shaped by and shaping its culture – both now and throughout history.

Understanding the foundations and philosophies of the modern movement can bring greater meaning to your interior spaces – and greater enjoyment to the process of defining your style!

A modern living space

So today, we’re taking a closer look at one core element of modern design: simplicity. We’re thinking about how it evolved, why it’s important, and how we can translate this look into our own interior spaces.

Sounds like a fun excuse to get our thinking caps on.

 

Evolving toward Simplicity

The beginning of the 20th century was an era of huge social and political change, and these shifts quickly affected the world of interior design. The modern movement embraced new technologies that came with increased industrialization, while recognizing that this major cultural shift would need a new design language.

In response, modern design rejected the lavish excess of the Victorian Eclectic and Edwardian Art Nouveau styles. Pioneering architects and designers fused the traditional craftsmanship of the Arts and Crafts movement with industrialization and mass production, aiming for (among other things) simpler forms, cleaner materials, and a rejection of ornament.

A coffee table with modern accessories

Soon, light, fresh shades replaced heavy, deep color. Intensely patterned wallpapers disappeared in favor of bright, white walls. Clean-lined steel, glass, and concrete arrived on the scene where dark, ornate furnishings and flourishes once reigned supreme. Unnecessary accessories were cast aside, opening interior spaces up for more comfortable living and entertaining.

Form and function began to dance hand-in-hand.

 

Modern Simplicity in Today’s World

In short, today’s modern style means clean, practical living.

Streamlined and sleek, modern interiors still avoid excessive accessories and ornate decoration. Which leads to a strong focus on function and organization. (Clutter: keep out!)

Polished materials like chrome and glass continue to take center stage, and furniture is defiantly simple, designed for economy of form. The shapes also reflect simplicity at every turn (or lack thereof): clean lines, functional curves, and basic shapes are hallmarks of the modern home.

Color is simple but often bold. Think monochrome walls, neutral furnishings, and bold pops of brave color peppered throughout. And speaking of bold, today’s modern patterns will knock your socks off, fusing geometric tradition with 21st century personality for conversation-sparking looks.

A collection of modern throw pillows

More welcome today than ever, the modern home provides a calm, peaceful, and inviting reprieve from a world that beeps and buzzes with its demand for an ever-faster life.

 

Bringing Simplicity Home

Making simple beautiful isn’t as hard as it might sound.

The first trick is to keep simplicity top-of-mind with every design decision you make. When choosing a piece, ask yourself about its function. When selecting an accessory, think about how it will be incorporated into your space. (Correct answer: seamlessly.)

Remember these simple-modern basics:simplicity_guidelines

Your goal is a space that feels completely clutter free. A room built on a clean foundation and punctuated with only the most meaningful and truly-you pops of color, pattern, or punch. Think standout shades, bold geometric forms, or remarkable artwork.

And remember that these pops of personality are easy (and fun) to rotate thanks to your simply modern foundation. Your clean backdrop means that taking a room from holiday time to springtime can be as simple as changing out a few throw pillows, rotating a featured piece of wall art, and inviting a gorgeous new plant in for the season.

We’d love to see what modern simplicity means to you. Join the conversation by sharing your own pics with us on Facebook or Instagram.

Coral: It’s Hot for 2015

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by Alicia

To get things kicked off this year Robert wanted to add a spark of light to our Spring Collection so he chose the invigorating color coral. We’ve never had a big range of orange tones here at Unison, but this season it just seemed right (along with the introduction of peach too). Combined with blue, this new hue plays really well. Dive right in!

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Our Anchors bedding in blue and (coming soon) in coral.

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New! Anchors coral plays well in the nursery too.

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Orange crush: New Biobu dinnerware and Tiles table linens in…coral!

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Versatile wire basket by Bend in hot coral.

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Surprise! One source of inspiration came from this huge crayfish atop a local restaurant.

The style watch team at Apartment Therapy thinks coral red is tops as well for 2015. It’s one of their “9 Biggest Style Trends for 2015″.

Do you like this color? Let us know, love it or hate it, in comments section below.

 

Alex Chitty + Unison, Thursday, January 22 6-8 PM

Posted on January 13th, 2015 by Kim Morski
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Artist Alex Chitty scanning Unison’s Stitch Black fabric to use in her upcoming project.

 

I met Chicago-based artist Alex Chitty this past summer during a visit to her studio with the Chicago Printmaker’s Guild. She spoke to us about her recent photographic explorations and constant effort to add new technical processes (ceramics, woodworking, electroplating metals…. you name it) to her studio practice. Alex’s interest in modes of display and domestic, utilitarian forms immediately got me thinking about a collaboration with Unison, and now one is in the works!

Alex has selected domestic goods from Unison’s spring collection to alter, deconstruct, and reinstall in photographic and sculptural compositions that reference, but are removed from, their original utility. Last weekend, Alex came to the Unison store in Wicker Park, equipped with her flatbed scanner and camera, to document textures, patterns, and objects for use in her project.

At Unison, we always want to learn more about the process and thinking behind an artist’s work. Alex has kindly taken the time to tell us a bit about her use of scanning and digital manipulation:

 “In place of a camera, I frequently use my laptop and a cordless flatbed scanner. As the scanner translates 3D analog into digital, it invents information and reveals images that hint at an original source without revealing it. This becomes important conceptually as well as aesthetically: a document of the history of its own making links itself to painting, cinematography, dance and performance. Another misused tool is Adobe Photoshop — software designed to covertly enhance or shift the reality of an image. When used to make obvious additions and changes by adding text and symbols or blurring specific areas, the tool becomes conceptual not functional. The resulting image disappoints the anticipated expectation of reality and begins to reveal how we see and think when looking at photographic imagery.”

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“I use Photoshop intermittently, so you are never quite sure what exactly you are looking at, and in this way, you are encouraged to think about the actual act of seeing. Essentially, it’s meant to slow you down and make you a tiny bit self-conscious of your existence in the world, like when you see your reflection in a shop window as you walk by, and you remember ‘Oh, yeah…I’m a human body, walking down the street’.”

The Unison team is bursting with excitement to see how Alex will transform Unison products, using them as materials in her new project. We hope you will join us for the opening reception to see the work and meet Alex!

- Kim Morski, Curator for the Alex Chitty + Unison collaboration and Domestic Production Manager at Unison 

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Alex surveying the Unison store for objects to photograph, scan, and digitally alter.

 

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ALEX CHITTY + UNISON

THURSDAY, JANUARY 22 6:00-8:00PM

1911 West Division Street

Chicago, IL 60622

Learn more about Alex Chitty and her artwork at www.alexchitty.com

3 Style Resolutions for the New Year

Posted on January 6th, 2015 by Alicia

With the ringing in of a new year, Robert & I are making some style resolutions for the coming seasons. 3 resolutions, to be exact. (Why not keep it manageable?)

Each of these 2015 style goals is based on what we’ve learned (or re-learned) in 2014, and we’d like to share them with all of you – and ask you to share your own with us as well!

1. Mix More Patterns, More Often

When it comes to pattern, our tendency has long been to keep things pretty matchy-matchy. But all that’s changing, thanks not only to how the use of pattern has evolved in our own lives and home, but also to how we’ve seen others buy, combine, and live with Unison products. In the end, we’ve learned that combining and contrasting pattern can be more fun and freeing. So we’re resolving to mix it up more than ever this year.

Gray & mint pillows in various patterns

One key tip for making this work in your own pad: vary the scale of patterns. If you’re picking 3 patterned throw pillows to combine (a great number), go for 1 small scale pattern, 1 medium scale, and 1 large scale. Your patterns will play much more nicely together if they’re not competing on the size front.

Black, white, and yellow pillows in mixed patterns

2. Embrace Color Wall Paint

We are still white paint fanatics at home, but bringing color backgrounds onto our photo shoots has definitely created some strong vibes for bold wall color. I doubt we would ever do a whole room, but we have resolved to get into the accent wall, wherever fitting.

A cobalt blue wall sets a backdrop for various flowering plants in vases

A single wall in cobalt blue or pale pink can take a room from fine to fabulous. The trick is using quality paint so that the color shows beautifully and will stand the test of time.

Throw pillows sit against a pale pink backdrop

3. Always Set a Proper Table

Even for a quick breakfast at home, we still set out napkins, the necessary flatware, glassware, and plates. We think it’s of the utmost importance to not only eat together – sharing conversation and face time – but to create a very simple, properly set table when doing so.

A table simly set in black and white

If you do this every day, you’ll soon find yourself going a bit further, using place mats or tablecloths and candles at dinner. Bon appétit!

What about you?

Do you have any style resolutions of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments area below.

Happy New Year!

Holiday Traditions inUnison

Posted on December 23rd, 2014 by Libby Cortez

It’s true that we’re all about modern around here. But this time of year, we’re suckers for tradition. In that spirit, we asked our team to share some of their favorite holiday traditions. And we loved what we heard. Listen in:

Kim Morski, Domestic Production Manager

A couple years ago, I designed a Monopoly board that was completely personalized for my family. (My parents’ version is Wardenburgopoly.) The game comes complete with family-specific properties and chance cards. Each Christmas, I make a complete board set for one of my relatives and their families.

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Caitlin Ragan, Marketing Coordinator

I was born on Christmas, and when the nurses in the delivery room cleaned me up and handed me to my mom, they wrapped me first in a blanket and then put me in a Christmas stocking. My mom takes it out every year on Christmas/my birthday and tells the story.

Susie Harvey, Inventory & Production Manager

We have always been a dog family. So after we finish Christmas dinner and clear the table, we put all of the dogs in the dining chairs (easier said than done). The dogs each get their own plate with all of the trimmings. The mess is worth the hilarious memories.

Dog's Christmas dinner

Erin Madden, Customer & Sales Manager

Growing up, we would make apple Santas. You attach toothpicks to the apple to create his arms, legs, head, and hat with marshmallow. Cloves make Santa’s face and buttons, and red cranberries top of his hat and limbs. When we were little, we created masterpieces…some of which looked like Sputnik. Now, my kids are making them!

Apple Santas

Alicia Rosauer, Owner / Designer

Our big tradition is putting the ol’ star up on the tree. I always had that honor of balancing (with some help) on the ladder, and now our oldest does the same!

Daisy Hoeft, Marketing Manager

We are blessed with many homemade ornaments that belong to my husband, his mom, and his grandmother. Some are basic, but many are beautiful and clever. Our favorite one is the “angel” (a decorated toilet paper roll). I’m not sure why or how, but every year our tradition is to get the roll on top of the tree and then hilariously reenact the process.

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Local Bloggers’ Holiday Picks

Posted on December 17th, 2014 by Libby Cortez

Two awesome Chicago-area bloggers added our Sailor Black & Gold Linen Pillow to their wintry shopping guides this month.

The oh-so-hip folks at Glossed and Found included it in their undeniably fun 2014 holiday gift guide. And the ever fashionable Jennifer Worman of CS flaunted these “sleek ribbons” of gold in Shop Chicago‘s winter must haves.

Anchors away!

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A Very Personal Gift Guide: 13 Unique Ideas

Posted on December 11th, 2014 by Libby Cortez

As the founders and chief designers at Unison, we’re particularly selective about the gifts we give this time of year. Because every choice we make is a reflection on who we are, what our company stands for, and how we see our friends and loved ones.

That’s true for all of us, isn’t it?

Selecting gifts can be one of the most rewarding or frustrating activities of the holiday season. So, to help tip your shopping scales toward the enjoyment category, we’re sharing some of our personal favorites – and some of our customers’ too. Each gift on this list is unique, memorable, and full of warmth.

Happy holidays, from the Unison family to yours,
Alicia & Robert

Alicia’s Favorites

1. Object Boxes with Shikama x Unison Jewelry
Object Boxes

Unison had the pleasure of working with local Chicago jewelry designer Sarah Shikama as she designed this line of beautiful and affordable handmade jewelry. Alicia adores the Bauhaus Necklace and can often be seen wearing her own around the Unison offices. But her personal favorite is the cuff.

Each piece in the collection is a beautiful memory from a very fun collaboration: Sarah selected the Aerial fabric and hand marbled her striking bangles to go with it. And the Object Boxes are a perfect match with such standout jewelry; the smallest box is the perfect gift wrap for a special bangle.

2. Ecoustik Docks

Ecoustik Docks
Everyone has a gadget-obsessed teenager somewhere in the family. They love their iDevices, and they love their music, but that endless stream of iTunes gift cards just falls flat after year #4. Enter the Ecoustik Walnut Dock, a beautiful docking station that amplifies sound from their iPhone, iPad, or iPad Mini. Pretty enough to leave on the counter, cool enough to make a teen proud.

3. Lumberjack Candle Holders

Lumberjack Candle Holders

Simple enough to be elegant, yet whimsical enough to be as memorable as a candlelight dinner, these Lumberjack Candle Holders might appear delicate, but they’re actually weighted at the bottom to stabilize. It’s the perfect gift for any practical design lover in your life.

4. Dots Red Table Linens and Kitchen Linens

Dots Red Tablecloth
Feeling overwhelmed by the endless stream of holiday parties on your calendar this year? While we’re happy to hear of your popularity, we understand the downside: finding inspiration for so many hostess gifts can exhaust even the most creative of minds. Here’s one that works for all: a super fun set of table linens that is bound to spice up what she’s already got going on, no matter her taste.

Robert’s Favorites

5.Falcon Teapots and Mugs
Red Tea Set - Falcon
Your aunt-who-is-hosting-all-the-shenanigans deserves a good excuse to kick her feet up. This adorable, unbreakable Red Falcon Teapot and Mugs are the perfect answer. In bold red, this set is as festive as Santa’s milk & cookies.

6. Kamil and Noel Mugs

Glass Mugs
Need a gift for that sibling who’s all about the coffee, and another for the one who’s all about the wine? With the Kamil Glass Mug and the Noel Double Wall Glass, you’ll have both covered in separate-but-equal sophisticated style.

Customer Favorites

7. Harvest Navy Napkins
Harvest Navy Napkins
The harvest print is so earthy and warm and bold and fun, our customers just can’t get enough of it. Plant these napkins under the tree for your earthy, warm, bold, and fun wife, whose idea of accessorizing is more about what’s on the table than about what’s dangling from her ears. (We can totally relate.)

8. Harvest Knit Blankets + Pillows
Knit Blankets and Throw Pillows - Harvest
Throw your friends a snuggly blanket and pillow any day of the week, and they’ll be thanking their Holiday stars for you. Knitted in our whimsical Harvest pattern, these gifts are sure to delight anyone on your list.

9. Bird Ornaments

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We can’t take all the credit for this year’s whimsical bird ornaments, since our readers chose the pattern from many gorgeous options. Eye-catching, colorful, and made from scrap fabrics in Chicago, these perfect little ornaments are the gift you give your tree. And your mom’s tree. And your sister’s tree. And your neighbor’s tree. And your neighbor’s sister’s mom’s tree…

10. Haus Scented Candles
Haus Scented Candles
Everyone brings a bottle of wine, and we love them for it. But if you want to be the standout guest of the night, you’ll need to light things up a bit. Enter these Haus Scented Candles. Choose from a Log Haus, Mountain Haus, or Garden House scent, and they’ll be remembering you fondly every time they light this lovely gift.

11.Heller White Dinnerware
Heller White Dinnerware
Our customers’ favorite dinnerware? The classic Heller White. And it’s no surprise. They stack together and are perfect for everyday use, but they’re also classic and sophisticated enough to make a style statement. Send them to those newlyweds who only registered for plates they’re afraid to use. They’ll love you for it.

12. Eve Brushed Gold Flatware
Brushed Gold Flatware
If holiday shopping is a competition, you probably just took the prize. This ohh- and ahh-worthy flatware is so special, it’s sure to put a smile on the face of anyone who receives it. Including that special someone: you.

13. Metal Napkin Rings
Napkin Rings - Brushed Metal
You liked it – and you put a ring on it. We’re so happy you did, because these brushed metal napkin rings are some of our favorite tabletop accessories, too. Perfect for the lovely gal who deserves more than one beautiful ring.

Happy Harvest Time!

Posted on November 26th, 2014 by Libby Cortez

This Thanksgiving season, we’ve been hungry for the bounty of great design. So we indulged our appetites with a gorgeous new collaboration with artist and printmaker Hillery Sproatt.

When we asked Hillery to develop a story print of a village scene, she brought warmth and whimsy together in a striking original painting, which we transformed into the contrast-packed Harvest Pattern that’s adorning so many tables this holiday season. An homage to the great abundance of holiday moments, this pattern is brimming with rich personality and organic spirit.

Our recent Harvest Time event celebrated this standout launch, with harvest table linens, throw pillows, and blankets taking center stage – along with Hillery and her mom, who joined in the fun.

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Hillery Sproatt with Robert Segal and others

Hillery talks with Unison co-founder Robert Segal and other modern-design lovers during the Harvest Time event.

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Hillery's mom joined other shoppers in admiring the gorgeous use of her daughter's Harvest pattern

Hillery’s mom joined other shoppers in admiring the gorgeous use of her daughter’s Harvest pattern

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A doll made from scrap fabric rests on a bed

Hillery transformed some of our scrap fabrics into one-of-a-kind dolls, available in-store only for the holidays at $200 each. Just call or stop by!

Scrap fabric doll on display

Mom & daughter pose with their dolls

Hillery and her mom, Deborah, hold the dolls that are named for them.

Apple Brandy

Rhine Hall offered cocktails during the event, featuring their delicious apple brandy. 'Tis the season!

Rhine Hall offered cocktails during the event, featuring their delicious apple brandy. ‘Tis the season!

Our 5 Thanksgiving Favorites

Posted on November 18th, 2014 by Libby Cortez

In the midst of a very busy Fall season, we’re feeling especially thankful for thankfulness itself – and for the holiday that reminds us to stop and celebrate the many things we have to be grateful for.

This year, we’re toasting our very long thankfulness list in high style, by bringing 5 of our favorite (and newest) items to the table. Take a look:

1. Harvest Tablecloth

Designed in collaboration with Hillery Sproatt, our new Harvest pattern is decadent, engaging, and full of humanity—much like the hours enjoyed around your dinner table. It’s the perfect foundation for a meal focused on celebrating the bounty of our lives.

Thanksgiving Tablecloth

2. Teema Black Dinnerware

That picture’s making us hungry for more than Jim Rude‘s delicious squash bisque. How about that gorgeous Teema Black Dinnerware, which brings such a stylish sense of sleek to this inviting table setting? This enduring classic, created by Kaj Franck for Iittala in 1952, comes in a set which includes bowls, dinner plates, salad plates, cups, and saucers.

And if you thought gorgeous couldn’t be practical, think again: this glazed porcelain is freezer, oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.

3. Warm Casseroles

Think cookware can’t make a statement? Think again. These glazed stoneware casseroles are simply standout. And they couldn’t be more thoughtfully designed: with a side spout for pouring a dish’s sauce or gravy after serving, they go from oven (or microwave) to table (then dishwasher) with style and ease.

Warm Casseroles

4. Heima Cast Iron Candle Holder

This is more than a candle holder. It’s a centerpiece. A conversation starter. A sculpture. A gorgeous gift or keeper for your own table.

We like to add white or colored candles, for an extra spark.

Heima Candle Holder

5. Harvest Apron, Pot Holder, or Oven Mitts

Many of us travel to another family’s table for Thanksgiving. And our new Harvest pattern – full of character and whimsy – makes the perfect gift for your hardworking host or hostess. Aprons, pot holders, and oven mitts make for wonderful presents, bringing a cornucopia of modern style right to the heart of the home.

Harvest Kitchen Linens

 

Store Event: Harvest Time!

Posted on November 10th, 2014 by Alicia

When artist, painter and printmaker Hillery Sproatt cropped up on our radar, we knew our holiday season was going to be so much brighter. Hillery’s paintings, which speak to her innate sense of
color and pattern, inspired our latest Harvest collection. Going back to the basics in black and white, the modern folk-like design is featured on table linens, throw pillows and knit
blankets — creating a bounty of pattern wherever you need it. Enjoy cocktails featuring apple brandy from local distillery Rhine Hall.

This Thursday from 6-8pm and spend an evening chatting with Hillery, browse some of her original artwork and enjoy 20% off all Harvest items during the event at the store at 1911 W Division Street.

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