Unison In Process: Inside The Humboldt Collection

Historic Inspiration for a Reimagined Bedding Collection

On the near-west side of Chicago lies a community that represents the very fabric of America—interwoven cultures marked by dynamic social change and overlapping styles, all evolving and thriving amidst a backdrop that’s notable as much for its historic landmarks as its decidedly urban charm.


Centered around a sprawling, 207-acre park, the Humboldt Park neighborhood is one part fast-paced cultural hub, one part serene oasis in the midst of the modern bustle. It’s simultaneously classic and modern, diverse and determined, everlasting and yet always somehow new.

What could be better inspiration than that?


Named for this historic community in our own beloved hometown, our Humboldt bedding collection is designed to reflect the area’s longevity and beautiful wear.

Inspired by the hand-woven look, unique texture, and 2-sided pattern of classic madras plaids, this bedding is as casually chic as a fresh-air picnic. Unison co-founder Robert Segal parlayed this inspiration into his original drawing for the pattern, and production designer Erica Lubetsky then translated that drawing into an engineered plaid.


The result was a simpler, sleeker pattern—more modern in tone. Then, we scaled it up for a strong, graphic punch and got ready to convert the carefully considered design into a textile.

First, material: we selected yarn-dyed cotton in an oxford weave, to showcase the delicate blending of colors.


The linens have a basket weave construction, which creates a checkerboard effect with white, producing a softer tone that is perfectly suited to a mellow-cool bedroom. To get the contrast just where we wanted it, we selected darker, more saturated yarns that would blend into the perfect finished hue.


As a final detail, we engineered each side of the duvet with a lighter blue, asymmetrical stripe on one side, so that when the bed is made with covers turned back, a stripe appears on each end.


Looks like you might actually start to enjoy making your bed in the morning.

Shop Humboldt Bedding 20% Off now thru 02/26, shop the White Sale here.



Unison In Process: What is Matelassé?

What is Matelassé?

When you envision your dream bedroom, what description comes to mind? We’ll take beautiful, cozy, and plush. And, if it’s possible to fuse whistle-clean high style with a dash of homey goodness, we might be nearing perfection.


Enter matelassé.

Developed in France in the late 18th century, the matelassé weaving or stitching technique was originally designed to imitate quilting. In fact, in its original French, the word “matelassé” (pronounced mat-luh-SAY) means “quilted” or “cushioned,” and the material was created to mimic the style of hand-stitched quilts made in Marseille.

By virtue of its pattern and weave, the technique achieves a padded appearance without any padding within the fabric. A single-ply, typically woven material, matelassé is often used for coverlets and decorative shams today.

A matelassé is made with either 3 or 4 sets of yarns, with 2 sets serving as the regular warp and weft yarns and the other set(s) as crepe or coarse cotton yarns. When woven together, these yarns are crisscrossed. And when finished, the crepes or cottons shrink, producing that defining, puckered detail.


Sleeping In Style

The best matelassé will retain the hand-quilted look that has defined this material since its inception. Since it is thicker than a sheet-grade fabric, matelassé is quite durable and delivers a refined, tailored look.


With a texture similar to a fine quilt or bubbly brocade, matelassé is often patterned in elaborate florals or (our personal favorite) simple geometrics. It is at once luxurious and easy to care for, with its strong weave and typically cotton material.

These factors add up to something we all value: stylish beauty. But its versatility is the characteristic that renders matelassé material so timeless. With its rich texture, it delivers depth and communicates style. But its clean, often neutral palette also makes it easy to combine with the overall look of any bedroom – whether clean and simple or bright and bold.


At Unison, we source our matelassé duvets, shams, and coverlets from Portugal, where the textile trade dates back to the late 1700s. With a tradition of high-quality product delivered at fair prices, Portugal’s network of fine textile manufacturers is today considered among the most distinguished in the world.


Our particular vendor has been working in matelassé for over 18 years—a deep and rich history that is stitched into the very fabric of our Himmeli bedding, which is produced on a jacquard power loom. The gorgeous, starburst-like pattern is selected through a controller—a computer that communicates stitch-by-stitch weaving instructions to the loom. These looms ensure a plush, hand-quilted look, while high-quality cotton delivers an elegant hand.


So as you’re drifting off into sweet, stylish slumber, you can enjoy pleasant dreams of the rich traditions, caring hands, and impeccable designs that have contributed to your perfect tuck in.


How to Set a Table

We’ve all done it: you plan a dinner party and spend loads of time mapping out a menu, shopping for ingredients, and preparing the food, only to look around in a panic when the doorbell rings on the night of. Where are those blue linen napkins?! Are they still in the ironing basket? And what am I going to serve the salad in? Oh no. Did we ever find that missing salad tong?

In the end, there’s more to a great party than scrumptious tastes. Even the most elegant dishes can lose their luster if the mood and ambiance isn’t carefully considered—including the mood of that stressed-out hostess, who’s too busy wrangling her table linens to actually enjoy her guests.

Ah, the all-important table setting.


Setting a table is not rocket science. But it is foundational, essential, and darn fun, when you approach it the right way.

The key to tapping into the fun? Good question. Here’s our 3-part answer:

  1. Don’t wait

Setting a table is an every day task. And the more you do it—and do it well—the less stressful it will become when it’s time to throw a gorgeous tablescape together for a special occasion.

So set your table for family dinner on a nightly basis. Use your tablecloths, napkins, special flatware, you name it. Don’t be afraid to break out the place cards or crystal candlesticks on a Tuesday with leftovers. It’s fun to get fancy in your PJs—and it’s a great way to play around with different looks and become comfortable with more formal settings.


When you have a dinner party on the books, plan ahead. A few days before the shindig, try out a few table setting combinations, make your selections, and be sure all your linens and other items are spit spot and ready to rock.

On the day of the party, go ahead and set the table early on. It’s an easy task to check off the list before you even hit the kitchen. And a pre-set table adds a great sense of ambiance for guests as they enter your home.

  1. Know the basics

You can do a lot with a table setting. But certain basics are a must. So get them down pat, and then build from there.

Here are the essentials:


  • Dinnerware: The star of the show. The dinner plate represents the main event and sits at the center of the individual place setting, with all the other elements placed around it. Additional items, such as salad plates, soup bowls, etc., should be added as the menu requires.

Shop Merchant Dinneware here.


  • Flatware: The supporting cast. Every piece of flatware plays a key role. At the very least, you’ll want to include a dinner fork, knife, and spoon, placed from left to right in the order in which they’re used—fork to the left of the dinner plate; knife immediately to the right of the plate, sharp edge facing inward; and spoon on the far right. Add additional pieces of flatware according to whether or not they’ll be needed during the meal—which is why a 5-piece place setting is essential.

Shop Eve Brushed Stainless Steel 5-Piece Flatware Set here.


  • Glassware: Always festive glassware belongs above the knife. If you include a cup and saucer, keep it farthest to the right, above the spoon(s), with the wine and/or water glasses to its left.

Shop Toyo Glassware here.


  • Napkin: The napkin will either match or play very nicely with the rest of your table linens. It usually belongs underneath the fork or on the plate, for a more informal setting.

Shop napkins here.


  • Serveware: You know what you’re serving. Now, decide how to present it. Whether you’re planning a causal, buffet-style meal or passing dishes around the dining table family style, every serving piece has the potential to make a beautiful statement. Set your selected platters, bowls, and other serving pieces out in advance, and think about labeling them with post-it notes, so you remember what goes where when that harried all-the-food’s-ready-now moment arrives.

Shop Terra.Cotto Cookware here.


Shop Galvin Black Serve Set here.

  • Tablecloth, runner, or placemats: Did we save the best for last? If the dinner plate is the star of the show, then this is your show’s theme song—the one you can’t get out of your head long after the party’s over. You’ll probably select this element first, so choose wisely and pair well. If you go with a bold and busy runner, keep your hard elements clean and crisp. If you select a simple, monotone tablecloth, you’ll have more flexibility to get creative with your other elements.
  1. Have fun

Speaking of getting creative, don’t forget the fun. Once you’ve covered the bases with your basic items, it’s time to infuse the table with your own sense of style—and any elements appropriate to the occasion.


In the spirit of modern design, we’d still encourage you to opt for gorgeous simplicity here. Remember that more is not always more, but don’t be afraid to be a bit brave or funny as you add the finishing touches.

Anything can work at center table—from a bouquet-filled collection of stilettos to a single, glowing candle. Just keep it crisp, clean, and classy, and you’ve got a recipe for style success.

Watch our step by step video How To Set A Table here:

Bon appetite!




As Clear as Black and White

If you’re wondering what modern design is all about, we’re ready to talk your ear off. But since a picture is worth a thousand words, we’d likely bring a great example to the table.

Good thing we know just the vase for the job: the Omaggio vase. This piece is so great—and so quintessentially modern—that we’re dedicating a blog post to it.


But why does this vase exemplify modern design? Because it embodies so many hallmarks of the aesthetic we love: it’s sleek, simple, functional, and marked with pure color.

And it’s got a nice backstory to boot.

Kähler: A Meeting Place for Great Design

For generations, the Danish ceramics company known as Kähler has created vases along with dishes, pots, kitchenware, and more—and made its mark forever on the modern design movement.

The story began when the potter Herman J. Kähler opened a small ceramics shop in 1839. When his sons Frederik and Herman took over the workshop in 1875, the venture started to gather speed.

The younger Herman traveled Europe before returning to the workshop full of inspired impressions. He built a new facility and began experimenting with a commitment to artistry that attracted many distinguished Danish artists and put Kähler ceramics on the world map.


With Kählers at the helm for 4 generations, the enterprise dedicated itself to understanding and adjusting to the latest trends. Over time, many of Kähler’s signature pieces have become collectors’ items and icons of design. And to this day, Kähler serves as a meeting place for distinguished artists and designers.

Like the talented pair who designed the Omaggio vase.


Stilleben and Omaggio

At the Stilleben design studio and retail store in Denmark, Ditte Reckweg and Jelena Schou Nordentoft sell housewares that reflect the simple, functional designs characteristic of the modern movement.

Long “fascinated by Kähler’s epoch-making ceramics, which have played an enormous part in putting Denmark on the map when it comes to art and design,” they were delighted to participate in the workshop.

And we all get to benefit.

With its fusion of modern expression and function, Stilleben’s Omaggio range has met with great success and become a true classic.

The vase is a piece that is very classical in shape, with stripes that feel a bit provincial and modern at the same time. Made in Portugal, where the stripes are hand painted in most offered colors, the finished vase takes full advantage of the functionality and artistry possible through ceramic design.


When incorporating an Omaggio vase into your own home, give it a place where it can show itself off. And don’t be afraid to combine a small collection in varied colors or a single tone. The effect is simply striking yet easy to achieve.

Now that’s great modern design.


4 Keys to a Beautiful Bed

We’ve collected some tips for making the right decisions when refreshing your bedroom. And incidentally, we’ve got a White Sale on through April 1st, to help you get your cozy on without breaking the bank.

Do a Duvet the Flexible Way

Your fluffy, warm comforter is the king of cozy. But with the amount of space it occupies, it’s also the king of your bed’s overall look. So choose a duvet cover that you 100% love, and use it as the foundation for the rest of your bed.

One fun approach is to select a versatile pattern, like our Tiles Lemon, that you can tweak for a fresh feel with the changing seasons. Pair it with matching shams and pillowcases for the sunshine-bright days of spring. Roll it at the foot of the bed and add a light, white blanket for warmer summer nights. Or throw in dramatic black pillows for a bold statement through the coldest months of the year.

Yellow Bedding - Tiles Lemon Yellow Duvet, Sheets, Pillows

Ditch the Plain-Jane Sheets

You want slipping into the sheets to feel downright decadent, so look for 100% cotton, and opt for a thread count above the 200 mark.

Most of all, remember that the fun doesn’t need to stop with what’s on top of your bed. Patterned sheets, like our Float Pink Bedding, bring a sweet peek of statement style to your made bed – and a big burst of whimsy to your turn-down routine. You’ll find yourself smiling every time you climb in.

Pink Bedding - Float Pink Hot Air Balloon Duvet, Sheets, Pillows

Standards and Euros and Shams, Oh My!

Pillows are the sprinkles on the ice cream of your bedroom sundae. A little festive, a little flavorful, and absolutely essential.

When selecting sleeping pillows, go soft for stomach sleepers, medium for back sleepers, and firm for side sleepers.

Or, for the ultimate in versatility, consider the Eurosquare. This pillow provides good support for sleeping; works as a sit-up pillow for reading in bed; or makes a great accessory for beds, chairs, and couches.

But how to adorn it? If you want a cohesive look with depth, select bedding that offers pillowcasesshams, and/or throw pillows in the same pattern with multiple tones. Like our Stitch pattern in various combos of black, white, pewterpoppy, you name it. It’s mix, match, mod, as easy at 1, 2, 3.

Bedding in Black and White

Bringing It All Together

So, you like pattern A. And pattern B. And pattern C. What to do? Learn how to combine pattern for truly high style.

The key to mixing patterns is to vary scale. If you combine 3 different small-scale patterns, your bed will look muddled. But pick 1 pattern each in a small, medium, and large scale, and you’ve got sure-fire style.

Our Alphablocks collection offers mix-and-match pattern options with built-in variety of scale, and a major wow factor to boot.

Bedding in Mint and Gray - Alphablocks Duvet, Pillows, and Sheets

Any other ideas for creating a stylish bed? We’d love to hear them!


Himmeli: Art in Another Dimension

For anyone who has ever gazed at the night sky and outlined the forms of constellations in your mind’s eye, you’ve already begun to experience the quintessentially Finnish art form known as a himmeli.

Originally crafted as Christmas decorations, the first himmeli—a Finnish adapted name derived from the Swedish words for sky or heaven—were created centuries ago by Finnish peasants. At the time, women in small villages expertly threaded lengths of straw to form decorative geometric shapes reminiscent of the constellations, or of what some believed to be signs from heaven.


Once complete, the himmelis were hung above the festive meal table at Christmastime, decorating the inside of the villagers’ tupas or log homes.

“By their ordered nature, these balanced constructions invoke the image of cosmic constellations that suspended and slowly moving in regulated courses, make rhythmic patterns in the sky, impelled to do so by an unseen will. The celestial connection is not fortuitous: it is believed that himmelis were inspired by the story of the appearance of the glittering star that announced the birth of Christ.” *


In the 1950s, artist Saara Hopea-Untracht began crafting numerous himmelis, “as these constructions well suited her propensity for geometric design forms.” *


And her standout pieces influenced Unison’s own Alicia Rosauer in creating our himmeli pattern.


Set on versatile gray, our table and kitchen linens are as festive for the holidays as they are ready for spring, summer, or fall. And stain-resistant cotton sateen keeps messes at bay, leaving the himmeli pattern at center stage.


Over the years, different artisans have put their own spin on the making of himmelis. Some have mixed the time-honored form with modern-day materials, such as the Prisma pieces in our current collection, which could hang above any table or stand alone as a piece of art.


Whether you believe in the himmelis’ mystical powers, as did the Finnish villagers of old, or are simply captivated by the rich history and striking, airy geometry of these many-faceted shapes, a splash of himmeli design is sure to add a new dimension to your home.

* Source: Saara Hopea-Untracht: Life and Work. Written by Oppi Untracht 1988 ISBN 951-0-14377-4


A Maker’s Mark: David Rasmussen Design

Designer David Rasmussen, maker of custom-crafted wood furniture and products for the kitchen, grew up in New England, where he was exposed to a rich tradition in furniture making from a young age.


From the outset, his study and work – both in furniture making and beyond – has been “driven by artistic design and aesthetic value.”

And it shows in everything he does.




Through his training in composition and construction under the tutelage of master crafters, as well as his focused study in Danish, Ming Dynasty, and contemporary American studio furniture, David developed his own avant-garde style of design and function.

Today, all that thoughtful training and study has translated beautifully into a collection of goods for the home, including kitchen accessories.


Once we adopted some of his pieces into our own collection, we wondered about the driving force behind his work today.

“I really enjoy creating objects that are a joy to use,” David told us, “with the hope that they are of good enough quality that they will be cared for and become heirlooms.”

Which probably explains why all of David’s pieces are made in small batches and not mass-produced.


In addition to artistic integrity, quality plays another key role in David’s success. In order to ensure that each piece lives up to his high standards, David works closely with his hand-picked staff of highly trained craftsman to produce elegant wares for clients across the US.

Our favorite pieces? These, of course:

Chroma Small Bite Plate


According to David, this striking piece is great for parties. And we couldn’t agree more.

With its versatile size and black or white color options, you’ll be hard pressed to find a moment when it doesn’t come in handy—and add a splash of distinctive style to the scene.

Chroma Blk Cheese Board Set


A best-in-class gift item, according to David. And a gorgeous piece of serve ware to bring out for special occasions, family occasions. or no occasion at all.

Chroma Red Tray


“Great for serving apps or as a catch all for jewelry or wallets on a dresser,” David suggests. And yet another example of form-meets-function craftsmanship.

Not to mention a healthy splash of red, just in time for the holidays. ‘Tis the season indeed.


What Is Memphis Design?

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse meets Miami Vice. A shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher Price. Wildly bizarre.

Memphis design has been described in all these terms and more.


The Memphis Group’s Carlton bookcase

During its early years, the Memphis movement was as polarizing as it was revolutionary. In the 1980s, the phenomenon rattled the design world to its core. But in its current resurgence, Memphis is being embraced for its history, boldness, and throwback appeal.

The Backstory

Inspired by a large collection of converging movements, including art deco, pop art, punk rock, early new wave, and, perhaps most notably, postmodernism, Memphis design peaked from 1981 to 1987.

The movement was begun by a small group of game-changing designers in Milan, Italy. (Yes, that’s right, the Milan that’s precisely 4,941 miles from Memphis, Tennessee – a town which was featured in the Bob Dylan song that played in the background during the group’s first meeting.)



Peter Shire, sofa Big Sur, 1986. From the Memphis Milano Collection


The style offers a strong illustration of many hallmarks of postmodern ’80s design, including

– Mixed materials

– Overtly angular geometry

– A riot of bright, saturated, and often contrasting colors

– A seeming refusal to embrace the streamlined or refined

– Incorporation of graphic patterns, often in black and white

What now?

So why do we love Memphis today? Because it’s design-forward but uber accessible. Thoughtful, but without taking itself too seriously. And it’s bold and fun. (Who doesn’t love bold and fun?)


A perfectly placed Memphis piece can bring a burst of whimsical glamour to the right space. So we’ll leave you with some practical tips for incorporating these oh-so-now looks into your own spaces:

Remember that less is more.
Minimalist pieces reign supreme in Memphis design.

Keep every detail feeling clean and open…
by incorporating mirrors, glass, and chrome. How about Stainless Steel Ice Tongs or a Titanium Bottle Opener?

Go graphic in every way.
Consider the lines of your furniture, the patterns of your upholsteries, the placement of your accessories, even the way shadows fall throughout the room.

Mix it up.
Your tabletop is a great place to start combining the bold colors and patterns of the Memphis movement. How about Splatter Plates, Falcon Tumblers, and a Grid Black Euro Runner?


Raid the storage unit for inspiration. 
That desk you said goodbye to in ’91 might be ready to make a comeback.

Take it beyond the home front.
Think toys, gifts, or jewelry, like a Laszlo Necklace.


If you’re new to the trend…
monochrome patterns provide a great starting point for your future Memphis adventures; they’re a bit easier to incorporate than the super-saturated hues ahead.

Want to start even smaller?
A few changeable accessories will update your look and let you test the waters. Try a few Shapes Drink Rocks or Ana Candles to light up the room, then see where the mood takes you next.





Coming Home with Hillery Sproatt

We’ve had the pleasure of working with artist Hillery Sproatt for some time now, and the results are never short of wonderful.

No matter the medium, her work is always unique, thoughtfully crafted, and marked by a dose of whimsy. In the end, her spirited pieces seem to invite smiles and brighten the mood of the home.


So we were delighted when Hillary invited us to take a peek around her own home. And we were fascinated when she shared a bit more about her background and inspiration as an artist. Take a listen:

Unison: What got you interested in designing goods for the home?


Hillery: My background is in fine art, with an emphasis in printmaking and drawing. I’ve always made work that is two-dimensional and often for the wall. So I am thrilled to be exploring art objects as well as functional textiles for the home. I spend much of my time at home and I want it to be a place I love and can love in. I hope my work brings a bit of joy into the lives of those who live with it.



Harvest Black Throw PillowHarvest Denim Throw PillowHarvest Peach Throw Pillow

Unison: With home being so important to you, how would you describe your own, personal style?

Hillery: I have a deep appreciation for many different aesthetics. Perhaps my personal style is simple and thoughtful, in so much as I enjoy functional things that are well designed and I like to have just enough without having too much. I enjoy things that have a history or a story to them.  I am very drawn to playful and colorful objects as well as pattern. Relationships or how things look next to one another has always been of great interest to me. I am definitely not concerned with matching and often steer clear of sets.


Unison: And when it’s time to get creative, what spurs you to create new work?

Hillery: I’ve always enjoyed making things. Perhaps it’s the surprise of seeing something into existence that excites me or quieting my mind a bit and letting my hands do the talking.

I draw inspiration from nearly everything I take in; places I’ve visited, conversations I’ve had, books I’m reading, or a flower by the side of the road. All of these things find their way into my work.


Unison: And once inspiration strikes, what is your artistic process typically like from there?

Hillery: When painting or drawing my art practice is intuitive. I almost never begin with a plan. When making my dolls and mobiles I am more exacting. I find I put my energy into being efficient with my process and thoughtful with my craft.


Unison: How about us? What has the experience of collaborating with Unison been like for you?

Hillery: I’ve enjoyed it immensely! It’s allowed me the opportunity to interpret my work into textiles, which has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

In particular, I was very pleased with the way my Unison Rag Dolls turned out. Unison’s beautifully bright hand printed geometric fabrics lend themselves so well to being mixed and matched. I think these dolls are whimsical, lovable, and so special.



My Lady DollsHandmade Dolls of The WorldHorse + Camel Mobiles




An Afternoon with Filigree Suppers

When you attend a Filigree Suppers event, you enter into an experience that is not only enjoyable, but also thoughtful in its detail, beautiful in its design, and creative to its core.

Acacia Chalk Serving BoardsGalvin Black Bread KnifeGalvin Black 5 Piece Flatware SetSlab Black Dinnerware

We experienced this firsthand at our recent in-store event, when we had the pleasure of welcoming Filigree Suppers co-founder Elise Metzger to up the gorgeous ante on our shindig.


Elise used items from our current Holiday collection to design all the tabletops. And the variety of tablescapes – including a kids’ setting – helped visitors learn how to set a table for any occasion, any design aesthetic, or any lifestyle.

Blockitecture BlocksHeller White Melamine DinnerwareEve Brushed Stainless Steel 5 Piece Flatware SetSplatter Enamel MugsMarket Plaid Tablecloth

Elise and Baker Miller brought in the food, and Elise and our knowledgable staff greeted guests at the door with refreshments, including the treat of effervescent bottled water from Perrier, one of our sponsors.


Filigree’s blend of elegance and whimsy (we would never have thought to incorporate Areaware’s Balancing and Blockitecture Blocks!) set a wonderful example for thinking outside the box on entertaining design.

And with Elise on hand to show menu examples and play around with different settings, visitors enjoyed hands-on learning. So we all left feeling a bit more confident in our ability to take these great ideas into our own dining rooms.

Himmeli Gray TableclothGalvin Black 5 Piece Flatware SetSplatter Black Enamel Dinner PlateHario Glass Tumblers

Which details won the most-likely-to-get-copied awards? Customized menu tags, name tags, and sample menus, to name a few. Another favorite: the postcards outlining helpful tips for selecting and creating holiday bouquets, which got all of us into the spirit of the season.

All in all, it was a day full of ideas, beauty, and fun. Delicious.