At Home with Chicago Artist Stephen Eichhorn

Part of summer fun at Unison is collaborating with artists and designers we admire. One of our favorites is Stephen Eichhorn, a School of The Art Institute of Chicago grad known for impactful sculpture and collage work. (Maybe you remember him from our Aerial and Flower Burst patterns?)


For the hot season ahead, Stephen has dreamed up beautiful orchid bedding, a cactus beach towel and cactus round trays. So, consider your summer napping, sun seeking and entertaining covered!

We caught up with Stephen at his Logan Square home, which he shares with his wife, two toy poodles and cat. It’s an 1890s greystone two-flat, with studio space on the bottom floor. Here’s a glimpse into his stylish environs and reflections on art and design.


Unison: Do you have any “rules” you follow for designing and decorating your own pad? What catches your eye?

Stephen: In the studio I like to have a functional aesthetic (work tables, etc.) but warm aesthetic (oriental rugs, etc) in terms of designing the space – – ultimately it’s a work space within a house. On the second floor we tend toward the more timeless design aesthetic of Mid Century Modern. Due to our more open floor plan, the kitchen is a major component within our living space. We worked closely with Robert McAdams and Jon Martin of Land and Sea to design a space that combines form and function using walnut, steel and marble.


Unison: How does the Unison style jive with your own style, both personal and decor?

Stephen: It mirrors our affinity to clean lines, mixed patterns and a variety of textures.

Unison: What are your three favorite things in your home and why?

Stephen: This tapestry by Kustaa Saski, it hangs at the landing of our stairs and I pause almost every day and find new things within the piece. I have one of the Aerial ottomans down in my studio from when I first started collaborating with Unison – – both poodles absolutely love to perch and nap on it while I work. I start most (if not all) of my collage work sitting at my Eames case study desk from Herman Miller. It has been with me in various studios/ living situations since I graduated school.


Unison: If you moved into a new place, what would be the first thing you did to decorate?

Stephen: I would start by placing the furniture and move directly into hanging our art collection. After two years in our current house I’m still occasionally hanging works here and there.


Unison: How long have you been doing what you do?

Stephen: I’ve been making collages and sculpture for the past 10 years. Most of the sculptural work is derived from my collage work and from when my wife and I made jewelry as a side project years ago. I took some of the technical skills and materials from jewelry making and integrated them into my sculptural practice. My sculptural practice is another vehicle for me to visually communicate through. Most of my sculptures are composed of fake plastic flowers and jewelry components from the ’70s-’80s coated in a mixture of graphite and gloss medium varnish. The sculptural work is a pretty time consuming process that is very repetitious.

There is also a jewelry making portion that involves a lot of hand work and coating in black graphite mixture. There’s a lot of similarities between collage and sculpture, at least when it comes to the making process. Both are found component based that I manipulate in the studio and both have the same dark beauty that most of my work has.


Unison: What are you interests, outside of art and design?

Stephen: Gardening has become a major interest – – especially now that it’s warming up! It has been so rewarding redesigning and working on both the front and back yard green space.

Unison: Where do you go for inspiration?

Stephen: Recently discovered the Caldwell Lily Pond, it’s an amazing oasis between the city and the lake. I was reminded of all the great things Chicago has to offer and am pleasantly surprised to find new treasures after living here for 13 years.

CactusTowelandTray2 copy

Unison: Let’s talk about the exciting projects you did with us for summer.

Stephen: All the various works for the summer pieces originate as hand-cut collages. One of the great aspects of this collaboration is that, while I am not a designer, I’m able to hand off the collages to {Unison co-founders} Robert and Alicia, who translate them into designed objects. Through our fluid design conversations I’m fortunate to see their vision actualize and I am always stunned with the resulting pieces.

Unison: Any exciting summer plans in store for you?

Stephen: I have two solo shows in the fall and another in the winter so I’m excited to work on several new breadths of work.

September at  Drawing room

October at Johalla Projects

January at Franklin Park Conservatory

Thanks, Stephen! And to all of you Unison fans, check out his summer designs here — perfect for welcoming those golden rays.