Interview: Interior designer and entrepreneur Michael Del Piero
Swashbuckling may be overstating things, but that’s how I envision Michael Del Piero’s perpetual hunt for interesting artifacts. Whether she’s catching a plane to South America, browsing a Paris flea market or walking the halls at a building like the Carroll-Albany Arts complex, Michael’s constantly trying to elevate her game; she embodies a sort of relaxed quest for perfection. At her Bucktown boutique, Michael offers an oh-boy! mix of merchandise, which includes antiques, architectural artifacts, new products from companies like Magis and the work of Chicago’s best designers and artists.
The shop currently features art by Michael McGuire, a dining room table by Design Within Reach’s 2008 M+D+F show Michael Dreeben and cocktail tables designed by JBD Designs founder John Barnett. Michael also carries work by artists Michael Thompson, Lucy Slivinski and others.
Click here to read an earlier Michael Del Piero store profile. And click here for a visual metaphor for how Michael Del Piero’s store makes me feel.
Continued . . .
How did you become an interior designer?
I was a corporate coach for twenty years. After awhile, I got bored coaching white males, but I loved to shop the flea markets, and I noticed that when people visited my home they tried to buy stuff off the walls. Some even started asking me to help them with their homes.
Had you ever worked in retail prior to starting Michael Del Piero?
Laura Soskin and I started a business called Antiques. We restyled my then home in Wilmette and put the word out we were having a sale. We sold everything in the house in three days. We decided to do it again and experienced the same success. We shopped locally, in Europe . . . all over the world.
How did you go from blogge . . . I mean antiques dealer to interior designer?
One woman bought twelve pieces and asked for help placing them. When I arrived at her house, she wanted advice about paint colors, so I offered to help her with that too. It was slow starting, but I’m doing very well now.
Have you always been interested in design?
I’ve loved home decor and home decor magazines since I was 15. I started to have favorites and found I could identify their work without reading the captions. I loved Vicente Wolf because he incorporated elements from all over the world. I also really liked Nancy Braithwaite, an Atlanta designer who had a minimalistic Americana style. She used traditional pieces in contemporary ways.
What inspired you in the real world?
I was inspired by summering in the Hamptons. I liked the clean white slipcovers with the patined objects. You couldn’t reproduce that patina. I mixed my own paints trying to duplicate it, but it was never as good as the real thing, the weathering.
Do you have a signature style?
I like classic clean line furniture, modern art, contemporary or interesting lighting and old, interesting objects.
How did you decide to open your Bucktown boutique?
I owned a design company and showroom in River North, but my business partner and I went our separate ways, so I started Michael Del Piero Good Design. I was only looking for a new office space, but I got talked into taking a retail space.
How’s it going?
It was a leap, but it’s been the perfect venue to introduce people to my work. It’s better than I could have imagined. The design studio and boutique feed off each other.
How do you approach a project?
I look at a room as a whole. It’s about balance – not symmetry but balance. Every object forces you to make choices about the next. I’ve been told my rooms are serene. They always seem to have that feeling, but I think everybody likes to come home and relax. The world is so rushed and busy.
What are you most grateful for today?
I love the projects I’m working on. I have wonderful clients who trust me with the design license.
What’s next for Michael Del Piero Good Design?
Eventually I’d like to see Michael Del Piero shops and design studios in other cities.
Michael Del Piero Good Design. 1914 N. Damen Avenue. 773-772-3000