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Dream Weavers: Introducing Makaua Woven Baskets

 

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Beautiful things happen in the hands of artisans. Now imagine what’s possible when more than 500 artisan families are empowered to use their talents for the betterment of their community.

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That’s the story behind Makaua Baskets, a new addition to our Spring collection. The aesthetic of the baskets was what first grabbed our attention; they’re made from rustic natural palm leaves but manage to look so perfectly modern. Then we discovered their story and knew we had to share them with you.

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Makaua Baskets are made by in-need families in Mexico, who use traditional hand-braiding technique passed down through generations. These artisans have been making the baskets since 2002 and have been able to improve their quality of life with their income. It’s true — more than 500 families have been involved and positively impacted.

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The palm used is a sustainable natural fiber that’s abundant in the south of Mexico. Its gorgeous neutral color goes well with any living space. Also, those leather handles – they add refinement and make the baskets easily tote-able.

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We hope you love them as much as we do. Shop Woven Natural Baskets here

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Inn Style: Unison + Longman & Eagle

Our latest bedding is custom-made for a Chicago destination that’s anything but ordinary.

We’ve been told our bedding is perfect for guest rooms, and Chicago’s iconic Inn at Longman & Eagle agrees. It now features Unison special-edition bedding that was created as a collaboration between Cody Hudson (partner at Land and Sea Department, which owns and operates the Inn at Longman & Eagle) and Unison co-founder Robert Segal.

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You can purchase the bedding, a quilt that reverses from navy blue to light grey, online or in or store. But we hope you’ll visit the Inn, too, to see it in its native environment. The Inn features six small eclectic rooms and sits above a whiskey bar serving Michelin-star-rated food. Inside each room: a mix of furniture designed and built by Land and Sea partners Mode Carpentry, plus curated artwork by Stephen Eichhorn, Ryan Duggan and other noteworthy creatives.

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We caught up with Cody, who shared more about this unique Chicago destination and what makes its new Unison bedding such a special touch.

Unison: You’ve had a longstanding collaborative relationship with Unison. What made the bedding the natural next step?

Cody: We’ve been using Unison bedding at the Inn since we opened. We like to support local companies so Unison was a perfect fit. After a few years of using the bedding we thought it could be interesting to do more of a custom comforter for the rooms.

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Unison: What were some key things you kept in mind when creating the design?

Cody: [We wanted] something simple, clean and a little utilitarian that would hold up in an inn setting. Also, there’s a lot going on in the rooms already so we wanted something with some color and pattern but not too much.

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Unison: These aren’t your typical hotel rooms. What’s the vibe?

Cody: It’s a pretty casual experience, almost like staying at a friend’s house who has a really cool guest room and has great taste in music, art and whiskey.

Unison: Another one of your collaborations with Unison, the Anchors bedding, was based on your hand-drawn illustrations. Tell us about your process for the Longman & Eagle bedding.

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Cody: I had a few meetings with [Unison co-founders] Robert and Alicia and talked about what fabrics would work best and what would go with the sheets and pillowcases we were going to use. We landed on this clean combination.

Unison: All beds at the Inn will also have the Sailor pillowcases. Why go with these?

Cody: We wanted the colors on the comforter to work nicely with everything else on the bed — it was a good fit.

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Unison: Tell us a bit more about your own studio practice. What’s your main focus and any new evolutions as of late?

Cody: I split my time between Land and Sea Department projects, traditional graphic design work and working on my personal art in the studio. In my personal work I’ve been focusing on more abstracted paintings on linen as well as steel and wood sculptures. I spent the last two months painting quite a bit getting ready for a few shows but now I’m back pretty heavily focusing on a few new LSD projects in the works.

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Unison: Where else can people see your work?

Cody: I had a show at Andrew Rafacz Gallery in Chicago last month, I’m doing a small show of sculptures in Amsterdam in December at Mini Gallerie. I’m slowly working towards a few other painting shows later next year as well as wrapping up details on a few mural projects for later in the year. That and raising two young kids is keeping me pretty busy right now.

Want to learn more? Click here for a peek inside The Inn at Longman & Eagle. Or, get immediate gratification and shop the new L&E Reversible Quilt here.

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Fall’s Best Friend: Rhine Hall Distillery

Apple and plum brandy? Indeed. Get the latest on seasonal pours and entertaining tips from a Chicago star. Read on for cocktail recipe and watch our video for a peek inside Rhine Hall.

Holiday season is coming – time to get your bar game strong. As you get your glassware in order and your spirits stocked, we’ve got inspiration to guide you. It comes from the pros at Rhine Hall, a small-batch distillery located just down the block from our Unison design studio in Chicago.

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There’s so much to love about this family-owned spot. Its expert selection of well balanced fruit spirits. It’s laidback vibe and bright, charming interior. It’s commitment to local, sustainable ingredients. And, of course, it’s willingness to raise a glass and celebrate. In fact, they’ve come up with cocktail recipes inspired by some of our new barware.

We caught up with Rhine Hall’s co-owner, Jennifer Solberg Katzman, who shares more about the distillery’s new fall menu, personal entertaining style and more.

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Unison: Rhine Hall has been around for three years now. Tell us about your journey.

Jennifer: Rhine Hall is a family hobby-turned-business. Our mission is to make quality brandy using methods we learned while living in Germany and Austria. The goal has always been to introduce people to learn about brandy and hopefully relate with it in a way where they feel comfortable to bring it home or drink it at bars and restaurants. We’ve always wanted to make different fruit brandies/eau de vies as the fruit became available to us. We have made a few different products, as private labels from top bars and restaurants in the city, which has been unexpected and super exciting.

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Unison: Fall is definitely a time for new beginnings or at least new projects … what’s on the horizon for Rhine Hall this Fall?

Jennifer: We’ve got a lot coming up! We recently released a newer product known as La Normande, also known as a Normandy-style pommeau. Pommeau is Rhine Hall Apple Brandy with fresh cider aged in Bourbon barrels. We will also be releasing an Oak Aged Plum, as well as a private label Oak Aged Damson Plum with The Aviary in October, and yet another private label with a large hotel group that can’t disclosed until the release in November. Lastly, we hope to be releasing a bier schnapps, a commonly made brandy made from beer sometime before the holidays. But mostly we’re excited because Fall is simply the best time of year — don’t you think of brandy and apples and fruit at this time of year? I hope your answer is yes! Lots of new cocktails with Apple and Oaked Apple in the many classics — not only in our tasting room but at bars around the city and country.

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Unison: You have an exciting Fall menu that’s just been launched. What’s the scoop?

Jennifer: Our Fall menu is intended to highlight each and every one of our products, by using fall-like flavors. We like to highlight the flavors by using different types of syrups, bitters, shrubs and combinations to again highlight the spirit yet still bring a multi-dimensional taste to your palette. A few favorites would include the “Space Trip,” which is our Pear Brandy with Green tea and ginger syrup. “Fall on the Rocks” is our Cherry Brandy with a fennel infusion with currant jam and ginger beer. Lastly, “Admiral’s Elixir” is our Oak Aged Apple Brandy, egg white and cinnamon bitters. None of them are overly Fall-like but still give you a taste of the season and bring a familiar taste and aroma.

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Unison: For our new glassware — particularly the Rout Etch High Ball, Rout Etch Double Old Fashioned and Fino Tall Tumbler — you’ve created a cocktail to pair perfectly with it. How did the glassware inspire or inform those concoctions?

Jennifer: I love the delicate etching on the glasses – it makes us feel like we’re recreating something from the past and improving the cocktail with a beautiful presentation. The different etching makes the color of the cocktail really sparkle as it almost brightens the liquid in the glass with the combination of the ice.

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Unison: Why is good barware so important to mixing a good drink?

Jennifer: Good barware helps make something very simple, something special. I think cocktails and spirits in general are things that people associate with experiences, and when you really create a cool experience doing something really simple, by having a really great glass and barware, it helps improve the entire time doing it.

Unison: What is your personal entertaining style?

Jennifer: My husband and I love hosting. We normally have people bring wine and apps, however I put a good amount of time into setting the tables, using all of the beautiful cutting boards we have for different charcuterie, different utensils for the (finally) more advanced dishes, and more! I always offer an appertif and digestif, as well as cocktail after a glass of wine or beer. Hard not to provide lots of booze when owning a distillery!

Unison: Any essential advice for those that want to get into or more adventurous with cocktailing?

Jennifer: I would just look at some recipes on imbibe.com and just experiment with what you already have at home! Don’t be shy. Super easy to swap out ingredients, like Rhine Hall for a gin, vodka or whiskey; jam for any syrup; and then fresh squeezing any citrus you have. There are just three parts primarily to a cocktail, and you can make every concoction your own every time.

Unison: Great – now onto something extra-appetizing. How about sharing a cocktail recipe?

Jennifer: Here’s the recipe for our #1 seller, the Rhine Hall Old Fashioned. It’s a very easy cocktail to make at home, and you are also able to swap out the Apple Brandy with other brandies of ours if desired.

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Wow your guests with this drink – and don’t forget to drop by Rhine Hall tasting room at 2010 W Fulton St in Chicago and get a fresh pour, straight from the source. Hours are Thursdays and Fridays 5-9 pm and Saturdays 2-7 pm.

Cheers to fall, everyone!

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Our New (Locally-made) Wallpaper Is In!

You’ve been asking for it. The wait is over. Our new locally-printed wallpaper comes in a range of blacks, whites, grays and metallics. The patterns – from tiny flecks to full-on grids – go with any living space. Put it up in eight easy steps and pick your level of intensity. What will it be? All four walls or just one for an accent?

Built around simple black, white and metallic grid patterns, our new wallpaper collection, designed by Unison co-founders Robert & Alicia, aims to be as versatile as it is easy on the eye. Just one more part of our ongoing commitment to simple, modern style.

Working with the team at Artisan Handprints is amazing. Having been in the business of hand printed wallpaper for more than 40 years, we knew their level of expertise was going to shine. It doesn’t hurt that they carry the Midwestern spirit of working hard while maintaining a high level of craftsmanship right here in our hometown of Chicago.

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Our Lattice Gold Wallpaper uses the clear base and actual crushed metals to achieve the gold luster that shines on the matte black surface. Their solvent inks, also made in the USA, evaporate in the drying process, leaving only the color pigments behind.

The team at Artisan Handprints is incredible. For each design, the paper is set up and then the ink is poured by hand on the screen. Each 30 feet of wallpaper is printed within a matter of minutes while the paper is fed under the screen and then dried before rolling up. This company is a perfect example of using industry standard technology and equipment alongside old fashioned printing techniques that have stood the test of time. That is just one of the many reasons why we chose this collaboration.

Already purchased Unison wallpaper? Are you curious if you can really do this yourself? Watch our simple step-by-step video on how to hang it.

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Want to See Your Home in our Holiday Catalog?

While visions of sugarplums probably aren’t dancing in your head yet, we’re already thinking about the holidays! In fact, we have some stunning tableware and decor that we’re rolling out just in time for the happiest season of all. And we need somewhere to photograph it all!

Do you have a modern home that’s picture perfect? We’re looking for a place to shoot our holiday catalog. If you live within hours of Chicago and think your home would be an excellent place for us to style a festive photo shoot, let us know!

If you’re interested, send an email (and include some home photos) to caitlin@unisonhome.com. Please include the best contact info for you and your address.

Hope to hear from you — cheers to the season ahead!

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We Love Antiquing!

… and our recent Memorial Day road trip proves it!

Three-day weekends are meant for soaking up sun, escaping from reality and … antiquing! So for Memorial Day this year we road-tripped up to Wisconsin for some R&R and stopped at an amazing antiques shop along the way. We loved it so much we wanted to share our photos here.

The shop was Lloyd and Leota’s Antiques & Restoration in Hebron, Illinois. It doesn’t look like much from the outside — but isn’t that a sign of a true hidden gem? We had a hunch it would yield a bunch of treasures. And we were right.

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While our daughters scampered around, exploring the maze of aisles stocked with furniture and nostalgia (to them, it must have seemed like they were exploring a larger-than-life dollhouse!), we snooped around and looked for design inspiration. Our favorite find was the below Harvest Table with contrast bright blue legs. Isn’t she a beauty?

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Other gems included a gorgeous original-finish cupboard (shown below), glass book unit and large hand-painted armoire — all quite affordable (around $500-$1,000). We love antiquing because you’re almost always sure to hit the jackpot and discover well-made, entirely unique furniture, often at lower prices than new or Ebay.

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On our trip, we also stopped at the Woodstock Farmers Market in historic Woodstock, Illinois. If you haven’t visited this charming burg, be sure to do so! It has galleries, shops and a famed Opera House. Of course we couldn’t leave the market without picking up homemade cider donuts. And speaking of food, let’s not forget our quick trip to Anderson’s Candy Shop in Richmond, Illinois. Again, we made some serious food splurges here. But seeing as everything was homespun and made by hand, we’re more than okay with that!

IMG_0374IMG_0367IMG_0405Here’s wishing you a summer filled with incredible road trips and new discoveries!

~ Alicia & Robert,

Founders of Unison

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The People in Our Neighborhood: Ashley & Sloane

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 streets of Paris, France 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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If you can’t make it to their Chicago showroom at 2010 W Fulton St you can also shop a selection of Ashley & Sloane at Anna’s in Highwood. For their main warehouse and showroom please visit:

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Libertyville, IL

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Behind the Scenes at Garfield Park Conservatory

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:

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#TBT Valentine’s Day Tokyo

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Robert, 2008

In February 2008 for my birthday, Alicia and I traveled to Tokyo to see the Police in concert on Valentines Day.  Japan in itself is a huge influence for Alicia and I with all the design, fashion, food and culture.  We are also big Police fans and never thought we would see them, let alone in Tokyo.  When I was young, I coveted the film “Police Around the World” documenting their world tour of 1978-80. In the film, they perform in Japan also in February and it was an eyeopener about their fanatic fans and technology of the day (Bullet trains and Sony Walkmans).  It was so exciting to be their 30 years later with Alicia celebrating this special day! So, in celebration of Valentine’s day (and it being Thursday – a day for throwbacks and all that), I dug up some photos from our trip and put together a playlist to go along with it. Enjoy!

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The Police, Tokyo
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Alicia, 2008

Playlist by: Robert Segal

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Photography by Robert

Jane and Francois Robert (pronounced Row-bare) are a husband and wife team (like us, but much cooler) who have been the team behind photographing Unison products since 2006. We have become good friends and over time have found them both to be great inspirations. They are super talented in the world of commercial and fine-art photography and graphic design to boot. Doesn’t hurt that they are also super happy, funny, healthy, good-looking, cat-loving, modernists too.

Jane and Francois love to travel the globe and always take the viewer by surprise with their imagery. We are so happy they share their visual passion with us. Below is a series of images they took while on trips to Paris (the source of the Koi photograph) and Coyote Buttes, a protected area in Utah. We are so excited to offer their work at Unison. Each photograph is professionally framed in from sustainable woods sourced in Italy, then cut and joined right here in Chicago.

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