Corporate Spaces – Strange Closets people, homes, travel and stuff Mon, 29 Apr 2013 17:29:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Studio Tour: Buckingham ID Mon, 12 Jul 2010 23:33:34 +0000

When I learned that Julia Buckingham Edelmann had moved her interior design firm to Grand Avenue, I realized the area had shed its status as Chicago’s best kept secret and officially become Chicago’s hottest new design district. Julia and friend Debra Phillips, who owns Scentimental Gardens in Geneva, IL, decided to take the West Town plunge together by opening neighboring showrooms. Joining Urban Remains second showroom and Grand Avenue mainstays Post 27 and MCM Grand, Julia and her Buckingham ID team cater to private clients in a brilliant, white street front loft space while Debra opened my favorite new urban antique store SG Grand. Julia’s creative collaborative studio space was hopping when I arrived, so things seem to be going very well in the new location. Stay tuned for posts about the many other great shops in the area.

Buckingham ID, 1820 W. Grand Ave., 312.933.8359

Julia’s office.

Julia’s daughter selects fabric samples, one of her many tasks while working at the firm this summer. Julia told her to listen to her gut when choosing which samples to keep on file.

]]> 1
Open House: Strand Design Fri, 20 Nov 2009 04:52:51 +0000 3954642024_9728bef5b7

At the suggestion of Room Service owner Paul Lechlinski, I recently visited the West Loop loft where his friends Ted and Sharon Burdett operate their start-up design company Strand Design.  It’s Randolph Street location was once home to butchers, grocers and flower suppliers, and a few of those remain interspersed among event restaurants with trendy names, famous chefs and budding socialites seeking a venue (preferably print).  Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios is just a few blocks west across the street from expensive lofts and condos, and if you head just another few blocks, there’s a big porno shop.  It’s Houston-ian.  My point is, I didn’t know what to expect from Strand, so I wasn’t that surprised that when I arrived, Ted was holding what looked like a cup of beer.  The first few minutes of our conversation are a fog, because I couldn’t focus on anything but that cup of beer.  So I felt positively silly when after we’d already talked for a bit, Sharon refilled Ted’s cup and offered me a cup of tea as well.

While Ted and Sharon don’t live in the building, they might as well move in, because the entrepreneurs spend most of their time there.  You might find them on the first floor constructing one of their furniture designs.  Ted and Sharon handcraft the pieces using reclaimed oak floorboards, and when I was there they were working on a project commissioned by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Or they might be upstairs burning the midnight oil while they work on a branding and design project for one of their clients.   Or perhaps you’d find them in the basement where they store the large billboards Ted and Sharon use to make their Tree Theory line of recycled bags.

Continued . . .


The bags, which are sold at the MCA gift shop and Green Heart Chicago, are made of folded billboard material and old car seat belts for straps.  What’s more, each bag can be customized by folding it in different ways.  I believe I’ll make mine into a butterfly.  My point is, If I had that many irons in the fire, I’d need a cold beer at 2:30 pm too.  Or tea as it were.

Ted and Sharon setup the second floor as their office, and the large area allowed them to stage a seating area with Danish modern furniture they found at a garage sale.  Their uncluttered work space feels fresh and light but serious, interesting and well-spoken (like them).  But it’s true what they say about first impressions, because even though I know logically they were drinking tea, in my memories they’ll always be drinking beer. 

Be sure to visit Strand Design or Tree Theory.

Thanks Ted and Sharon!













Please sign up for free email updates:

Delivered by FeedBurner

]]> 7
The Catalyst Ranch Mon, 21 Sep 2009 21:14:13 +0000 3889300208_02369267d9

Thanks to Barb at the Mars Gallery for introducing me to the folks at the Catalyst Ranch.  Directly or indirectly, Barb has been responsible for some of my most memorable Open Houses, and I’m very grateful.  If you’d like a musical accompaniment, click on the embedded YouTube player.

Bored of a long bland hallway, Catalyst Ranch founder and then Quaker Oats marketing executive Eva Niewiadomski found a clever way to subvert the staid corporate culture pervading so many office spaces by transforming the space into a colorful idea area.  Using her trademark funky style, Niewiadomski constructed floor to ceiling wall panels covered with a bright velcro fabric upon which teams could pin their ideas and inspirations.  While intended primarily for the marketing folks, all employees were welcome to jot down their ideas.  The program was so successful, the company gave Niewiadomski a conference room, which she decorated with 50’s era furniture upholstered in fun colors.

“My co-workers loved the Innovation Hallways,” says Niewiadomski.  “It was a great interactive space and it was a vehicle for showing what was going on competitively and what we had in the way of new products and promotions that we were doing.”

Continued . . .


Buoyed by her peers’ positive feedback and intrigued by the new ideas being generated when people collaborated in a decidedly non-corporate environment, Niewiadomski realized her trademark fifties style would be the perfect aesthetic for a corporate events facility, so she refinanced her house, leased a 9000 square foot loft space in a former herring packing factory in the West Loop and bought as much vintage furniture as she could get her hands on.  While the space needed a complete build out, Niewiadomski saved money by acting as her own general contractor and relying on friends in various trades, she finished the build-out in five weeks, opening in November 2002.

Catalyst Ranch was so successful that Niewiadomski soon expanded, leasing another 6500 upstairs for a total of six conference rooms, which are used for  training seminars, strategic planning meetings, trade conferences, association meetings, workshops, consumer market research/focus groups, staff retreats, board meetings, sales meetings and brainstorming sessions.

Catalyst Ranch.  656 W. Randolph, Suite 3W.  Chicago.  312.207.1710








































]]> 7