Black Is the New Black

Posted on May 20th, 2015 by Libby Cortez

Modern design is all about meaning. It’s where aesthetics meet implications, where the ultra-chic collides with the culture it inhabits.

Biobu Black Dinnerware

Biobu Black Dinnerware

Take the latest color trend we’ve been watching (and embracing) since early this year: black. More dynamic and moody than the sugary tones of recent years, black has suddenly taken the interior world by storm.

Harvest Black Pillow

Harvest Black Pillow

But why the dramatic turn toward this bold-and-dark classic? Perhaps it’s a reflection of our global situation—of the tensions, conflicts, and disasters that seem to define our world more each day. Or perhaps it’s a reaction to all this—a deeper, richer, and more comforting palette to shelter a home’s inhabitants from the fast-evolving complexities of our time.

Koppel Black Bowl

Koppel Black Bowl

Whatever your reason for choosing black this season, you can amp up the safe-haven ambiance in myriad ways: black hard goods, walls, tables, chairs, shelves, and kitchen fittings; black or dark-toned soft furniture, textiles, and rugs; and heavy-textured materials like velvet, plush, wool, and suede to compliment black’s weight.

Grid Knit Blanket

Grid Knit Blanket

The result: a deeper visual presentation that brings tough and cool together for a dramatic punch.

Møller Melamine Salad Sets

Møller Melamine Salad Sets

For starters, try revving up your white-hot summer with some of our best suggestions for beautiful black:

Koppel Black Pitcher

Koppel Black Pitcher

Tango Black Knit Pillow

Tango Black Knit Pillow

Sky Black Planter

Sky Black Planter

Epicurean Black Sandwich Board

Epicurean Black Sandwich Board

Stitch Black Bedding

Stitch Black Bedding

Koppel Melamine Cups

Koppel Melamine Cups

Grid Black Knit Pillow

Grid Black Knit Pillow

Cork Black Placemats

Cork Black Placemats

Sailor Black Outdoor Pillow

Sailor Black Outdoor Pillow

Butler Black Watering Can

Butler Black Watering Can

The People in Our Neighborhood: Ashley & Sloane

Posted on May 19th, 2015 by Libby Cortez

We recently kicked off a series of posts featuring the awesome talents in our design-centric corner of Chicago. It’s been great to hear from our neighbors about why they love this area and adore what they do.

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Next up: Betsy Karp, the impeccable eye behind Ashley & Sloane. We recently caught up with this globe-trotter on the phone, while she walked the drippy street of Portland, Oregon and shared some insights into her importing business.

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Unison: Tell us about Ashley & Sloane

Karp: As an importer, I make frequent trips to France and bring back shipments of antiques and French classic design furniture. Everything from armoires—which are as great for décor as they are practical for storing your linens—to tables, bistro chairs, outdoor furniture, you name it.

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I also bring in modern French pieces, keeping up-to-date with the contemporary pieces that can work with a mixture and a blend of antiques. I’m really a minimalist in my own way. It’s about how all of it can work together.

Antique-French-Accessories-at-Ashley-&-Sloane

Unison: What are your thoughts on Chicago’s design community?

Karp: The design community in Chicago is centered in the warehouse areas. In West Town, where our building is located, we have a variety of people manufacturing, doing restoration, etc. Obviously, modern design is very important.

French-Antiques-at-Ashley-&-Sloane

Unison: And what kind of an impact has your location had on your business?

Karp: The beauty of this area is that the designers who are in the city can come see what I’m unloading and sorting. I meet people by appointment there—especially city designers. And it’s wonderful to have the loading doc down there, to be able to unload the whole shipment and have it all there for anyone who wants to see it.

French-Antique-Showroom-at-Ashley-&-Sloane

I also love the building itself. The location is easy to get to. I come from the north suburbs of Chicago—as do many designers who come to see my pieces—and we can get to this spot with great ease.

Antique-French-Dining-Chairs-at-Ashley-&-Sloane

But best of all, it’s been an incubator building, because many businesses have started and grown from there. It’s a place that gives you wings—that nurtures you in starting a business. That’s the beauty of it. It’s a place where people can come and see new, growing, developing businesses—from artists to woodworkers to established businesses like Ashley & Sloane or Unison.

Antique-Mirrors-and-Accessories-at-Ashley-&-Sloane

The environment is great, too. I have the luxury of space and of setting up a show room there. The natural light that comes in is wonderful for my pieces. And the white floors and walls—wonderful for what I’m doing.

Antique-Accessories-at-Ashley-&-Sloane

Behind the Scenes at Garfield Park Conservatory

Posted on May 15th, 2015 by Alicia

Here in Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory is one our few respites from the long, cold winters (besides Lincoln Park Conservatory – and, of course, just heading south for a while).

Garfield Park Conservatory was designed by Jens Jensen in 1908 and went through a traumatic remodel after a huge hail storm destroyed a lot of the windows.

Many of the plants there are as old as the building. It’s become quite the treasure.

And since they are open to photo shoots, the conservatory trees and plants became the backyard scenery for our summer collection. The traditional Moroccan fountain is also amazing and set the backdrop for our new water buckets.

Take a look:

Travel Diary: How We Spent Spring Break

Posted on May 12th, 2015 by Alicia

Working in the Unison studio and office every day is so inspiring and fun. But we couldn’t pass up the chance to duck out for a week over spring break this year. The idea of warmer temperatures and new scenery (besides snow!) sounded really good after a long Chicago winter.

Our Founder/Designer Alicia Rosauer and Marketing Manager Daisy Hoeft packed their all-weather bags and headed out to Florida and Tennessee, respectively. They were so excited about their trips that they shared some vacation pics here. Scroll down to check them out.

Alicia’s Trip: Hobe Sound, Florida

The Sunshine State delivered on its promise. There was lots of sun and fun for Alicia, her husband Robert Segal (Unison’s other founder), and their two daughters.

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A soft sand beach gave views as far as the eye could see of the crystal waters of Saint Lucie Inlet.

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Modernism follows Alicia and Robert wherever they go! Here is a cool shot of The Kimpton hotel in Palm Beach — a Cubist gem with spotless glass reflecting the palm trees.

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Back at the beach! (How could they possibly stay away?)

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Spring break is all about simple pleasures. So taking advantage of those cool ocean breezes to fly a kite was definitely in order.

Daisy’s Trip: Knoxville, Tennessee

Daisy and her travel mates had never spent much time in Tennessee and really wanted to get a taste of the culture and meet the people.

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An excursion to “The Lost Sea Adventure” near Knoxville was “amazing,” says Daisy. “We hiked down 14 stories and learned about stalagmites and stalactites and how the Native Americans used the caves as shelter from the colder months and as burial grounds.” At the end of the cave, they boarded a boat and took a picturesque tour around the lake.

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A hike through Great Smoky Mountains National Park was on their bucket list — and it was beautiful!

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Quiet roads and tunnels dug out of the sloping forest were welcome changes from the Kennedy Expressway.

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What could be a John Constable painting was the real-life view Daisy enjoyed while traveling the mountainous outskirts of Knoxville.

What did YOU do over spring break? Tell us in the Comments!

 

Mother’s Day in Unison

Posted on May 7th, 2015 by Libby Cortez

Fact: a staggering 2/3 of those celebrating Mother’s Day will gift Mom with a flower or plant, spending $2.3 billion dollars on stems for mom.

Of course, we have nothing against flowers. (In fact, we love them – and we love helping you decorate your home with them.) But in case you’re looking to step away from the majority and get a bit more creative with your mommy plans this year, we’ve got some inspiration for you.

Turns out, some of the folks on our very own Unison team have great traditions and stories from Mother’s Days passed. Check it out and steal for yourself:

Alicia Rosauer, Owner / Designer

Most every year, we have a Mother’s Day brunch with the grandparents included. Then, later in the day, we take the kids to the Chicago Botanic Garden. It’s always at its peak with flowers and trees bursting out, and the kids love the fountains the best!

Alicia Pushes a Stroller through at the Chicago Botanic Garden Poppies in Bloom at the Chicago Botanic GardenPlaying by the Fountain at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Erin Madden, Customer & Sales Manager

I have been lucky to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom and my mother-in-law every year. We always have brunch with my mom, and it’s a great way to start the day. We switch off making brunch at my parents’ house or going out to eat. Mom’s pick!

From there, we head to my in-laws for dinner and do it all over again. My husband and his 5 brothers are in charge of the menu, so we (my mother-in-law and 5 sisters-in-law) get to sit back and relax…for a moment.

Daisy Hoeft, Marketing Manager

We celebrate Mother’s Day differently every year. This Sunday, my family is so excited to be headed to the United Center for game 4 of the Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers semifinal series! #SeeRed!

Chicago Bulls at the United Center

Mia Oetter, Store Manager

Every Mother’s Day, my boys Colin & Phoenix and their father take me out for brunch and shower me with gifts ranging from homemade artwork to care packages. My favorite tradition is when the boys pick out cards and add their own personal sense of humor to it. One of my favorite gifts were these letter pressed “stop talking” cards to hand out to my kids when I needed some quiet time. The boys found the gift to be perfect and hilarious, I found it to be quite useful 😉

mia-oetter

Caitlin Ragan, Marketing Coordinator

Well, I’ll speak frankly: my family has never celebrated Mother’s Day the same way every year. For about 6 or 7 years now, my sister and I haven’t lived near my mom – so it’s been a lot of heartfelt cards, Skype calls from vastly different time zones, and flowers sent to her office.

So though we haven’t established a true Mother’s Day tradition, I can say that my sister and I have never had a better friend than my mom, and we celebrate that every day with calls, silly texts, and even a private mother-daughter blog to document our favorite conversations together. So cheers to my mum. She’s very loved!

A Mom & Her Daughters

#ThirstyThursdays With Rhinehall

Posted on May 7th, 2015 by Caitlin Ragan

We teamed up with neighbor and local distillery, Rhine Hall to bring you a delicious #ThirstyThursday drink!

Rhine Hall’s G+G (see recipe below)

rhinehall-gg

Toyo Clear Medium Tumbler, $4-6

1.5 oz Rhinehall Grappa

13 oz Ginger ale

5 drops vanilla bourbon bitters

Lime for garnish

 

Kids Collage Event With Chad Kouri

Posted on May 5th, 2015 by Caitlin Ragan

Kids Collage Workshop
with Artist Chad Kouri
Saturday, May 16th, 2-4 p.m.

Unison
1911 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622
T. 773.227.3180

Does your refrigerator door need a new masterpiece? Voilà — we can help with that! Attend this family event that’s especially for the little Picassos in your family. Your child will make an original collage using colorful pre-cut paper and fabric. This is a FREE workshop led by artist Chad Kouri, a multi-discipline artist and co-founder of creative collective The Post Family. Chad will help you get hands-on, give a talk and have some original works and prints available for purchase. Don’t spend your allowance all in one place, kids! For ages 4 & up.

ck-collage-workshop-blog

 

Ceviche Celebration: A Recipe for Cinco de Mayo

Posted on May 5th, 2015 by Libby Cortez

We love that Americans have embraced Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.  After all, there’s a lot to love about the vibrant hues, foods, and fun of our sister to the south.

This year, to get ourselves in the mood, we whipped up a batch of Ceviche Estilo Sinaloa from Mexico: The Cookbook. This version of the old world South American dish hails from the Sinaloa region, also known as the “breadbasket of Mexico” due to its widespread agricultural production.

But with or without the carbs, this little number is worth your time & effort. Simple to make and fresh on the palette, it’s sure to be a crow pleaser, no matter your crew.

Ceviche Estilo Sinaloa

– 1 1/2 pound / 700 g red snapper fillets, skinned and diced
– juice of 8 limes
– 2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
– 3/4 white onion, finely chopped
– 1 large cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
– 3 pickled jalapeño chiles, membranes and seeds removed and finely chopped
– 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (coriander)
– sea salt and pepper
– extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
– tostadas, to serve
– 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced, to serve

Put the fish into a bowl, add the lime juice, and let marinate in the refrigerator for about 3 hours or until the flesh changes color without losing its texture. Drain off the liquid.

Combine the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and chiles in another bowl and season with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the cilantro (coriander) and fish and drizzle with olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Serve on tostadas covered with sliced avocados.

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Ceviche served in our Biobu Low Bowl and Mini Bowls with extras

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Mexico: The Cookbook

The People in Our Neighborhood: Eli-Wyn

Posted on April 29th, 2015 by Libby Cortez

Nestled in a tree-studded design enclave just west of downtown Chicago, the bricked loft district that houses our design studio and corporate offices is also home to a host of other creative talents that infuse our world with inspiration, innovation, and integrity every day.

In the coming weeks, we’ll talk with some of our neighboring artists, designers, and other creators about what they do and why they do it.

An-Eli-Wyn-Sofa

First up: Eli-Wyn, a family-owned upholstery business that brings a personalized touch to everything they do. And the list is lengthy: re-upholstery, custom furniture, window treatments, fabric sales, and pickups and deliveries.

We at Unison can happily vouch for the quality of their work; over the years, we’ve become such fans that we’ve begun working with Eli Wyn to produce some of our ottomans, poufs, and piped pillows.

Recently, we caught up with Molly Quinlan, who runs the shop with her husband, John.

Molly-Quinlan-of-Eli-Wyn

Here’s what we talked about:

Unison: Eli-Wyn offers such an array of services. How did your business evolve?

Molly: My husband, John, had a retail store for many years, and he used Eli Wyn upholstery at the time. So when the owner retired and offered us the business in 1996, I took over and dove into the reupholstery business. At the time, I was a designer at a commercial furniture dealership in Chicago, and ready for a change.

Eli-Wyn offers upholstery services as well as custom furniture. We make everything from headboards to sectionals, ottomans, and pillows. We also make custom window treatments.

We moved to the Fulton area about 6 years ago, and we welcome customers to come and select from hundreds of fabric samples that we have in our showroom.

Making-Custom-Furniture

Unison: That sounds like a unique model – kind of a hybrid between an upholstery shop and a design studio. Do you feel this makes you different from others in your field?

Molly: Yes, the full-service aspect is unique. John brings deep retail experience from running his own store for over 10 years, I bring the design background, and we have a gentleman on staff who, upon request, will go out to customers’ homes to help them take measurements, select fabrics, etc. We love to work with both designers and end users, and our full-service approach allows for that.

Upholsterer-Adding-Studs

It’s also nice that we have a library up front to service customers and designers who want to select fabrics. And the custom furniture side is unique as well.

Unison: And can you tell us about the vibe in the design district of Chicago where you (and we) are located?

Upholstery-Shop-1

Molly: This area has been wonderful. We have met many different artisans who share a collaborative approach to their work: there’s Unison, and also a refinishing company, custom cabinetry makers, and a graphic printing company that we have had the chance to work closely with.

It’s been great to be able to utilize the knowledge from the various crafts. It is definitely a  unique area to work in.

Upholstering-Furniture

Photography credit, John Sturdy

A Kids Easter Bash With Unison Home

Posted on April 27th, 2015 by Caitlin Ragan

The ever-so stylish lifestyle site, The Effortless Chic, recently featured a number of Unison favorites in their Kids Easter Bash. Colorful, inspiring, and full of spring spirit, we were thrilled to see our products brought to life!

View More: http://jesskoehler.pass.us/150324-tec-easter

Featured: Tiles Poppy Napkin, $12; Biobu Kids Dinnerware Sets, $24; Cork Placemats, $8; Big Tiles Throw Pillows, $ 65; Rubber Dipped Yellow Vase, $26.50-$45

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Featured: Tiles Poppy Napkin, $12; Biobu Kids Dinnerware Sets, $24; Cork Placemats, $8; Big Tiles Throw Pillows, $ 65; Rubber Dipped Yellow Vase, $26.50-$45

To view the full post, click here