#ArtinUnison: Debbie Carlos

We at Unison counted ourselves lucky this year to be able to feature the striking photography of Debbie Carlos in our Fall 2017 catalog. This month’s #ArtinUnison highlights her photographs, along with a Q+A involving her artistic influences, favorite places to capture, and her true opinions on jellyfish.

Q: Your site talks about your quest to “capturing objects at their moments of greatest clarity” — do you have any particular environments you find work best for that?

A: I find that my senses are the most heightened when I’m traveling. Being in a new environment I’m hyper aware of everything going on around me, and I try to take it all in and capture as many moments as I can in my camera.

Q: One of the photographs we featured in our fall catalog was of jellyfish — what was striking about that moment to you that you wanted to capture it?

A: It’s hard not to be enthralled by the strange forms of jellyfish. They are blobby creatures, ethereal & ghostlike in the way they are lit at the aquarium, and sort of elegant in the way they float through the water.

Debbie Carlos Jellyfish Photograph - Unison colorblock bedding
Linen Colorblock Duvet, Acorn Black & Copper Pendant Lamp, Tower White Side Table

 Who are some of your greatest influences?

A: Rinko Kawauchi and Uta Barth have always been a huge influence on my art. Their work always strikes an emotional chord in me.

I remember going to a William Eggleston a number of years ago at the Art Institute of Chicago and felt like it was so validating.

More recently, I have become a huge fan Teju Cole’s words and images. His instagram is definitely worth a follow and his book of photographs and essays, ‘Blind Spot’ is wonderful.

Q: What is your favorite place to photograph?

A: Japan never fails to be pure eye candy to me.

Q: How does modernism reflect itself in your work (if you think it does)?

A: I do think that there is a strong modernist bent to my work, not only aesthetically but conceptually. One of the things that has always stuck with me was Eames’ mantra “Create the best for the most for the least”. I loved how democratic that idea is and was very much a part of modernist concepts of accessibility to design. Art should not just for those who have the money to afford it, but should be approachable to many. In terms of my photographic work, this is the reason why I re-appropriated engineering printers to produce many of my images. I was re-appropriating a type of utilitarian printing for fine art and thereby creating, on one hand, it’s own unique aesthetic but on the other, casual and approachable everyday art for everyone.

You can find more of Debbie Carlos’s work on her site at Debbie Carlos Studio, or on her Instagram @debbiecarlos.


Edgewood Made Board + Cheese Knife and Cutter

The Natural Artistry of Edgewood Made

Thoughtfully crafted and beautifully designed home products are what we’ve come to expect from Philadelphia studio Edgewood Made. Its founders, George Dubinsky and David Short, wanted to address contemporary needs “through low impact heirloom quality goods,” and began producing a range of products for the modern home whose design is at the crossroads of nature and manufacturing. Edgewood takes products from conception to production

With design backgrounds from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Dubinsky and Short strongly believe in the importance of well-made, uniquely designed goods that not only make sense from an everyday use standpoint, but keep whoever is using them in touch with the products’ origins.

Pulling wood from our inventory.

A post shared by Phila. PA (@edgewoodmade) on

The Edgewood Made Black Wood Board and the Cheese Cutter and Cheese Knife all feature zero 90 degree angles. This is accomplished through a hexagonal cross-section handle that takes nature for its inspiration:

“In nature there are no right angles,” their site states. “Anything that is an acute angle in nature eventually is worn down to an obtuse angle. Most things that come from woodworking machines have ninety degree angles to them, as that is the easiest way to process material. In an effort to get a way from the machined look, while simultaneously referencing nature and creating something that feel comfortable in ones hand we created the edge detail that appears on the cutting board. This detail appears on much of our furniture and other wood products.”

“Natural reactions and forms that come from nature especially come from wood, are at the core of what inspires us.”

Cutting board on its jig right after being machined on the #CNC

A post shared by Phila. PA (@edgewoodmade) on

The rich, dark color of the Edgewood Board and cheese tools is achieved through natural oxidation. This natural process is aided through a solution Edgewood creates themselves using steel wool and vinegar. It is food safe and a product of the natural reactions of the wood. All their wood products are then finished with an all-natural, food safe oil. The finish provides a durable protective coating to the surface and penetrates deep into the wood, ensuring a longer lasting product.

“We utilize nature as our inspiration and manufacturing as our medium.”

One of the best features of the Edgewood Board is that if used as a cutting board, the cuts will slowly gray, creating a brilliant sunburst effect. If the preference is to maintain the bold dark walnut throughout, one side can be used for cutting, and one for display.

Co-founder David Short explained the Edgewood Made process to us:

“Virtually every aspect of our work we do ourselves in our shop. The wood comes in as raw lumber from a company in western Pennsylvania. We surface the boards into rectangular blanks. From there they are put on our CNC Router. We had a custom bit created to cut the edge profile, and with this bit the shape and edge detail is created. From there we hand sand and finish the whole board and at the end laser engrave our logo in.

“We have vintage machines that we have brought back to life from old factories and pair these machines with some of the latest technology as well as our hand skills. With out an understanding of wood and traditional woodworking nothing we do would be possible.”

Look for new Edgewood Made products in the Unison Spring Collection.


#ArtinUnison: Andrew R. Wright

One of our key values at Unison is collaboration with independent artists that share our passion for modern living. Working with illustrator and printmaker Andrew R. Wright was therefore a clear must for us. Andrew’s work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and The Saturday Evening Post. We knew the perfect Unison/Wright project would take his simplified but inviting forms and turn them into the Dove Natural Knit Blanket.

We sat down with Andrew to get deeper into what inspires him, how he works, and, of course, what his process was for developing one of our favorite products of the 2017 Unison Holiday Collection.

1. What are some key trademarks of your work?

For quite some time this was the only question that mattered to me. In a way it plagued me. I was impatiently searching for that one “thing” that would define my work and make all of the Art Directors I wanted to work with say “We need Andrew R. Wright for that!” In a way I found it with texture, shape, and gradients achieved through a mixture of printmaking techniques (mostly monotypes and block printing). But, I was miserable [because I felt stuck in one way of working]. Now, I’ve gone down a path of not trying to define what I want my work to look like, i.e. trademark. It’s an ethos that doesn’t get me a ton of illustration jobs but I feel that I can sustain a healthy output of work that I’m genuinely proud of.

Now I let the work find its own trademark and try not to fret over whether or not it feels like an Andrew R. Wright, because ultimately it will. After all, I’m the one who made it.


2. What about your style aligns with Unison?
Much of my inspiration comes from design. The Weiner Werkstatte, Ver Sacrum, Dieter Rams, Mies van der Rohe, and Ben Shahn. While there are exceptions within each of the groups and people listed, to me the majority of their works are about simplification of ideas presented in a way that immediately reads. Simple, but not boring. Graphic, but not cold. Immediate, but not messy.  That to me is exciting. That to me is what I love about the collections that Unison puts out. The collections have an elegant simplicity, pared down to necessary but beautiful form and function.

3. What appeals to you about simplified or minimalist forms?

This answer will slightly overlap with the previous. It’s mostly about getting rid of all the stuff that does not matter to the core of the idea. Both in art and in life. I think this came from living in my first small apartment 6 years ago, having to be almost spartan-like with organization, which also lined up to my beginning obsession with Dieter Rams. I’m a firm believer that being an artist is not just producing images but also a lifestyle. Furniture is analyzed in the same way that composition is thought out. Color palettes can be seen just as quickly in a diner as they are in a series of color studies. It’s not something that gets turned on and off. It’s a constant (that can be incredibly annoying!).



4. How would you describe your process?

Be it my new curiosity with paper mache sculptures or a simple menu for a dinner party, everything starts with writing and thumbnail sketches. Sometimes it’s one sentence and one thumbnail. Other times it’s a novel’s worth of writing and 10 pages of drawings. I can never really tell how an idea will solve itself. The rest of the process will vary depending on what the final piece is.

I will outline my process for block prints, which is what the Dove Blanket was produced from:
From the rough drawings and writing, I typically do a refined drawing depending on the work at hand. It then gets scanned and flipped to ready for transfer to a linoleum block. I cut one block per color depending on the image’s complexity. The drawing is transferred and the blocks are cut. I have a Takach table top etching press that is my lifesaver at this point. Layers are printed in order of lightest to darkest. There are a lot of intricacies within each of those steps but out of respect for anyone who has read this far, I’ll leave it at that.

5. What inspired the blanket’s design?
 Simplification was the main point. Big surprise, right? It came from a series of envelopes that I had been producing for various mailers to Art Directors. The series revolves around making figures fit in to a pre-defined shape with extreme simplification while still communicating the fact that they’re figures.
I have to hand it to Robert, Alicia, and Jamie for seeing the potential of that tiny piece translating so well into a 50 x 60 knit blanket. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve made to date!

See more of Andrew R. Wright’s work on his website, Andrew R. Wright, or on his Instagram, @AndrewRWright.


Spotlight on Moglea

We at Unison love to work with small businesses that are creating beautiful things. This week, we want to turn the spotlight on Moglea.


Moglea (MOH-glee) is an independent design and letterpress studio in Audubon, Iowa that creates handcrafted paper goods. Its owners, Chad and Meg Gleason, believe in the importance of production performed by hand. Their printing is done on a century-old Heidelberg Windmill Letterpress (the “Windmill” is an American nickname originating in its rotating gripper that grips and releases the paper stock).


“I complete dozens of paintings to test out compositions, color combinations and textures,” co-founder Meg Gleason says. “This is a crucial part of our creative process, and these paintings help inform the look and feel for each new collection. We feel that that Moglea customer is anything but traditional, so we like to make unexpected but welcome color palettes for the holiday season.”

Unison carries three varieties of Moglea holiday ornaments this season: Holiday Dot, Whitewash, and Snowfall.

Moglea Ornaments

Our Creative Director at Unison describes Moglea as “an absolute breath of fresh air — modern, bright, beautiful, artistic — a true stand out.”

We’re delighted to have brought these dip dyed and hand painted ornaments into our holiday collection and look forward to the beautiful creations Moglea produces in the future.

Snowfall Ornaments by Moglea

Holiday Recipes: A Rosemary Potato Tart With Rustic Tart


Stephanie at Rustic Tart

Chicago pie company Rustic Tart has been enriching the lives of locals for some time with its delicious selections. We at Unison were delighted to work with owner Stephanie Lock this summer for our Summer Pie Story (featuring an amazing blueberry tart), so we made sure to bring her back for a fall collaboration using Rustic Tart’s Ready-to-Roll Dough.

Stephanie started Rustic Tart as a subscription-based pie company that offered two fruit pies a month during the growing season. As her business grew, she heard from more and more people that they loved the pies, but were too intimidated by the idea of making the dough to try baking on their own.

Ready to Roll dough
Falcon Red Prep Set

As Stephanie says, “[s]o I turned my focus to the dough, developing Ready-to-Roll Dough and leading classes here and there. The handcrafted all-butter disks of frozen dough, which come in sweet and savory varieties, are designed for the home baker and cooks, for making pies, tarts, quiches and pastries. You could even make a pot pie! Found in grocers’ freezers (Whole Foods, Plum Market, Publican Quality Meats, Standard Market, Sunset Foods Highland Park), Ready-to-Roll can solve all your dough-making problems.”

Backed by Midwestern savvy passed from one generation to the next, Rustic Tart has become a great resource for all things pie, offering everything from Ready-to-Roll Dough to recipes, how-to web videos and pie classes in and around the Chicagoland area.

Enjoy the Rustic Potato Tart!

Rustic Potato Tart
adapted from David Tanis’ Savory Potato Tart

Rustic Tart
Grace Gray Dinnerware + Heima Cast Iron Candle Holder

1 package Rustic Tart SAVORY Read-to-Roll Dough™, defrosted and rolled to 12-inches in diameter.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with the rolled dough and refrigerate.

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup crème fraîche
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of grated nutmeg
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream

  1. Place oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 375ºF.
  2. Slice potatoes as thinly as possible, using a mandolin or sharp knife.
  3. Put potato slices in a large bowl and add crème fraîche, salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic and rosemary.
  4. Mix well with hands, making sure all slices are coated and well distributed.
  5. Add potatoes to chilled dough in even layers making sure to not leave any of the crème fraîche mixture behind.
  6. Gently fold dough over itself and the filling.
  7. Brush dough top lightly with egg wash.
  8. Bake for about an hour or until the filling is bubbling and the dough is browned.
Modern Thanksgiving Essentials

Essentials for Your Modern Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving is a great time to begin new traditions. Keep the best elements of the season alive — togetherness, family, friends — but with your own modern spin. The holidays are a perfect time to revamp your table, and we’ve selected items that embody the idea of modern + timeless — beautifully made and designed products you can have confidence in.

Modular White Vases for the Holidays

The Modular White Vase gives your table the beauty of a floral arrangement without overwhelming it. Reflective clear and white glass in a modern rectangular form that’s substantial enough to handle a knock from a passing plate, but not in danger of leaving no room for entrées.

medaillon porcelain plates + dinnerware, and thanksgiving tablecloth

You have to feel it to believe it. Medaillon dinnerware is gleaming, German-crafted porcelain that is not only dishwasher and microwave safe (for easy cleanup and reheating of leftovers), but also scratch and wear-resistant.

A tablecloth not only protects your table from scratches and stains, but also lends elegance to your presentation and can tie it all together. The Garland Wine Tablecloth is made from Portuguese cotton sateen and features a striking digitally printed take on a floral pattern, designed by Chicago artist Stephen Eichhorn. Stain-resistant and machine washable, it’s a beautiful and practical addition to your holiday table.

We’ve paired these elements with a Burgundy Linen Napkin (have some fun with textiles via the contrasting cotton sateen of the tablecloth and strong linen weave of the napkins), a modern Chrome Silver Napkin Ring, and Eve Chrome Flatware, for the perfect combination of traditional and modern.

holiday table layout
White Windsor Table + Chairs

Take the opportunity this year to create your own traditions. Whether it’s finding a table setting to start creating memories with, or even a poem you like to read ever year — traditions are one of the things we value most. It’s never too late to start one that will be valued for years to come.


Q+A With Chicago’s Metric Coffee

Unison neighbor Metric Coffee has been brewing unique, well balanced, and clean coffees since 2014. We’ve recently teamed up with them for a fall giveaway, and wanted to learn a little more about the coffee shop we visit every day, so we chatted with Matthew Steinbrecher — Manager of Metric West Fulton & Workshops Educator.

Q: How did Metric get started?

A: Metric Coffee Co. started in 2014 as a shared project by co-owners Xavier Alexander and Darko Arandjelovic. After purchasing a vintage German Probat roaster, the two began roasting out of a Humboldt Park garage, and soon moved into our current location on West Fulton Street. It didn’t take long for the company to grow, as our work with chefs, restaurants, and cafes in the region quickly drove our wholesale accounts; since 2014 the company has grown to fourteen people.


Q: What are the advantages of your West Fulton location?

A: Since we were already occupying our current space on West Fulton, it made sense to put our first cafe location within our headquarters. Doing so not only provides visitors a direct view of the entire operation, but allows the cafe to become a ‘test lab’ of sorts – what is happening up front is a direct reflection of the work being done in back, with new offerings constantly coming in.

The space certainly presents some unique challenges; as any visitor to the cafe knows, it’s a small space. It forces our team to work efficiently and creatively to maximize our space while providing what we’d consider one of the most sincere, hospitable, and excellent coffee experiences in a city flush with quality coffee. The cafe tends to function largely as a grab-and-go operation for the working crowd along the Fulton corridor, but we love it when folks are able to stay a while and engage a little further.


Q: You actually offer coffee workshops, like how to brew better coffee. How did these come about, and what are you hoping to offer in the future?


A: Offering public workshops and classes was integral in opening our space up to the public.


The premise of the Home Brewing and Espresso workshops is simple – how do the different variables at play come together to form the final brew that we drink? How do we talk about what we taste, and how did we arrive at that? Coffee and espresso preparation can easily be seen from the outside as unnecessarily complicated, frustrating, and maybe a little pretentious. I love breaking it down in a way that is easy to understand. For the more experienced crowd, we can get into the specifics of coffee extraction and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) on the numerical level. It all depends on who is participating and what would actually be useful to them in a home setting. being able to teach these workshops is something that brings me a lot of joy, and I love sharing the tools to understanding coffee available to others.

Down the line we’re looking to bring back our weekly coffee cuppings, Home Brewing workshops taught in Spanish, latte art classes, and more roasting tours and demos.

Q:  What makes Metric different?
A: Here at Metric West Fulton we take an incredible amount of pride in making amazingly delicious coffee as approachable as possible. Both Gabby and Connor, the wildly skilled (and kind) baristas on the cafe team, take a great deal of initiative in helping me shape our offerings, constantly refining our ways of working and preparing drinks. Being a part of the Metric team allows us to witness the huge amount of work it takes to bring coffee from seed to cup, which only makes us do what we do (as one of the final steps in the chain) with care and close attention. I like to think that we tend to the social life of that product — watching it play out into the daily lives of our neighbors, friends, and partners.

Don’t miss the Unison + Metric Coffee Fall Giveaway! Enter by November 12, 2017 to win an array of coffee products from Unison and Metric.
How to Host a House Guest

How to Welcome a House Guest: Hosting Ideas for a Guest Room

Hosting has been a part of humanity’s global culture for millennia. Everyone wants their home to have a comfortable space for a guest, so we’ve selected our favorite items to make a house guest feel at home and taken care of.

First things first:

Mesh Gray Bench + Natural Nido Basket
Mesh Gray Bench + Natural Nido Basket

A bench provides both function and comfort. Your guest can drop their bags on the modern and stylish Mesh Gray Bench. With its striking but subdued pattern that goes well with any decor, this solid pine bench will withstand the test of time. We suggest the Natural Nido Basket as an attractive and easy way to store extra blankets or pillows underneath. Speaking of which…

Wool Blankets + Chambray Stone and Flannel Indigo Bedding
Jackson Gray + Jackson Blue Wool Throw Blanket, Chambray Stone + Flannel Indigo Pillowcase

Minnesota-woven wool from one of the last vertical woolen mills in America, which means these blankets are made entirely in the mill, from raw cotton to finished product. They’re machine washable, fade resistant, and the best part? Wool is an active material which reacts to changes in body temperature, so it will keep your guest warm when they’re cold and release heat when they’re hot.

The pillows are the Unison Chambray Stone and Flannel Indigo, both made of 100% Portuguese cotton and guaranteed to make anyone staying overnight want to cozy up to them.

But what about a quilt?

Unison and Inn at Longman & Eagle Quilt
L&E Solid Navy/Gray Reversible Quilt

What better way to welcome your guest than with unique and cozy bedding. Made of 100% cotton and reversible from navy blue to light gray, this quilt is warm enough for winter and cool enough for summer. If you’re in Chicago, then this has an extra benefit, as it is an exclusive Unison collaboration with the city’s iconic Inn at Longman & Eagle.

And finally:

Nightstand for a House Guest
Canal White Table Lamp, Gather Vase, Grid Tray, Braun Black Classic Alarm Clock, Tri White Side Table

The essential nightstand. Imagine dropping your bags after a weary day of travel, sitting on the bed and seeing cheery flower cuttings and a glass of water (or whatever you prefer), already waiting for you. Bring the look together with an appropriately sized tray and add the final touch with a classically elegant table lamp for easy nighttime reading.

Bring sophistication to the table with the Canal White Table Lamp. The Canal has an elongated dome, adjustable shade, and metallic finish to provide just the right touch of style. We love the Gather vase collection for its simple lines and thin but durable design. They’re the perfect size for a side table or nightstand accent. The Grid Tray pairs a classic Unison pattern with form and function, as maintaining a tidy table with it is a breeze. The table itself? Modern design, minimal footprint. Save space and look chic with the Tri Side Table (available in white or black).

There it is! Pick your favorites and check “cozy guest room” off your list.


Fall Recipes: In the Kitchen With Last Ingredient

Paige Adams from the food blog Last Ingredient is no stranger to Unison. She’s shared her pizza on the grill with us, fruit infused water recipes, spring salads, and sensational Easter recipes that can be made all year round.

Now she’s paired Unison cook and dinnerware with cozy recipes for fall. Her weekend takeover of our Instagram yielded some beautiful photos and delicious dishes, including Sweet Potato Poblano Soup, Acorn Squash Salad, and a Pear & Almond Tart. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Poblano Soup

Sweet Potato Poblano Soup
Featuring Grace Gray Stoneware + Galvin Copper Flatware, Linen Graphite Napkin

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 poblano pepper, deseeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled and diced
3 cups vegetable stock
Chopped cilantro, pepitas and yogurt for serving

Featuring Epicurean Non-Slip Cutting Board + Falcon Black Enamelware Prep Set

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until they start to soften. Stir in the poblano peppers, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and continue cooking for an additional 3 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Soup Prep
Featuring Cookut Black Dutch Oven, Little Big Trivet, Oxford Stripe Navy Linen Dishtowel

Carefully transfer the soup in batches to a blender to puree. Return the soup to the saucepan to reheat. Divide into bowls and top with cilantro, pepitas and drizzle with yogurt.

Acorn Squash Salad

Acorn Squash Salad
Featuring Grace Gray Serve Platter, Grace Gray Salad Plate, Linen Graphite Napkin, Galvin Copper Flatware

Serves 4

For squash
1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For dressing
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

For salad
5 ounces mixed baby greens
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Cut off the top and bottom of the acorn squash. Halve it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Thinly slice the acorn squash and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the squash slices in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan. Roast the squash for 25-30 minutes until tender.

Salad Prep
Featuring Epicurean Non-Slip Cutting Board + Galvin Copper Serve Set

While the squash is roasting, make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until fully combined.

Salad Prep
Featuring Falcon Black Enamelware Prep Set + Galvin Copper Flatware

To assemble the salad, toss the squash, mixed baby greens, pomegranate seeds, walnuts and goat cheese with the dressing.

Pear & Almond Tart

Almond Pear Tart
Featuring Galvin Copper Serve Set, Graphite Linen Napkin, Grace Gray Dinner Plate

Makes one 10-inch tart

For crust
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For pears
3 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 Bosc pears, peeled

For almond filling
6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
3/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Confectioners’ sugar for serving

For the crust, pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the yolk and vanilla extract and mix until the dough forms. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Almond Pear Tart Prep
Featuring Dash Stripe Navy Linen Dishtowel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the tart shell for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

For the pears, bring the water, lemon juice and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the pears, reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are tender, about 15 minutes. Let the pears cool in the syrup. Slice the pears in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stem and cut crosswise into thin slices. Press the pear halves to slightly fan out the slices.

Almond Pear Tart Prep
Featuring Epicurean Non-Slip Cutting Board

For the almond filling, mix the butter, almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract in a food processor until smooth. Spread the filling into the tart shell. Place the fanned pear slices on top. (It helps to use an offset spatula to keep them together.) Bake 45-50 minutes until the almond filling is set and golden brown. Cool the tart on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

See more from Paige at!


Chad Kouri at Unison Home Store

#ArtinUnison: Chad Kouri Talks Color, Minimalism, and Lena Horne

This month’s #ArtInUnison spotlight is on Chad Kouri. Chad’s artwork has been featured in the Unison catalog numerous times. His brilliant use of color and form caught our eye and we approached him to design some items for the Unison collection. We’re thrilled to be highlighting him this month.

Originally from Michigan, Chad lives and works in Chicago. He is an active participant in the Chicago arts community, and his work has been exhibited everywhere from San Francisco to Weimar, Germany. His Chicago exhibits include the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hyde Park Art Center, and Johalla Projects.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of minimalism?

A: I love how something simple can be very profound. I have a quote from my high school band director running through my head often: “Simple isn’t easy.” That was more than 15 years ago, but it still means so much to me. I really respect a restrained and simplified presentation whether it’s music or performance or visual art. It’s so easy to just keep adding and adding. It takes a lot of courage to live with simplicity of any kind. I’m still working towards being more minimal, not only in my aesthetic but my lifestyle as well. It’s a lifelong practice!


Q: Your work is so incredibly colorful. Do you choose your colors mostly on instinct, or is it a very thought-out process.

A: I think a lot about color. What colors mean to us. How they are read and interpreted. How specific colors are present in our everyday lives. I’m constantly capturing photos, reviewing swatches and looking for color combinations or standalone hues that can be compelling and powerful. For example, I use yellow often in physical spaces and digitally as a visual palette cleanser when presenting my work. Even my print orders get shipped in a yellow bag. The goal is to simultaneously clear and focus your mind on what you are about to see. But all the color theory and thought is mostly in the background when it comes to the art-making process. One color typically leads me to another as I build compositions. I only use paint out of the tube or existing colored paper in my work, so as to not create something that feels unfamiliar and foreign. It’s further reassurance that my work can be in line with the world around us and not something that feels other-worldly.

Q: Who would you call your top 3 artistic influences?

A: Oh man…this is impossible to answer. I’m a minimalist in application but a maximalist in process so I’m looking at TONS of different stuff all the time. If I had to pick right now, I’d say I’m looking at a lot of work at the intersection of non-traditional photography and architecture right now. Erin O’Keefe and George Byrne come to mind. But any artist that is unapologetically themselves really draws me in. I feel this happening in music more than anything else. Thelonious Monk, Lena Horne, and George Clinton are fierce historical examples of this, but recently Chicago’s South Side singers and MCs are doing it for me. Chance the Rapper, Jamila Woods, NoName, to name a few. Of course, I’m looking at masterworks often as well… Ellsworth Kelly, Josef and Anni Albers, Bridget Riley, Sol Lewitt, Ettore Sottsass, Carmen Herrera, McArthur Binion and Ray and Charles Eames to name a few.


Q: You’ve cited jazz as being a part of your work — how does that tend to show up in your pieces?

A: In all sorts of ways, honestly. Most directly, I have a body of work I call Jazz Movement Studies which started a little under ten years ago. These works act as graphic glyph-like representations of sounds I hear at Avant-Garde and Free Jazz sets that I frequent in Chicago. Growing up playing alto saxophone, I was very familiar with jazz standards that most people know. When I moved to Chicago, there was (and still is) this whole scene of people “playing out,” which means playing sounds that are outside of the traditional tonal structures of a song. Making this work helped me digest and find comfort in the dissonant sounds I was hearing in clubs and on records that friends were suggesting. Now, for me, that kind of music almost has a medicinal property.

Outside of that, I relate my entire practice to that of a jazz musician. I develop and collect a toolbox of colors, reference images, compositions, and concepts—just as a jazz musician collects melodies, scales, and chord processions. When it’s my turn to make something new, I chop everything up and assemble something from the pieces. It just happens to be a visual composition rather than an improvised solo.  

Q: What about your style aligns with the Unison brand?

A: I appreciate that Unison’s overall simple and color-driven catalog of objects don’t need to be screaming in order to get your attention. There is also a sophisticated playfulness to Unison’s aesthetic that I admire. We are obviously looking at some of the same stewards of our practice and share a common goal in finding an aesthetic that is both modern and timeless.

Find out more about Chad on his website, and stay tuned for more #ArtinUnison features!