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ID Chicago: Modern Sensibilities

by David  Perry
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jun 4, 2013

Within the dichotomy of the American fashion and design scene, there is New York, Los Angeles (perhaps Miami), and then everywhere and everyone in between. Well, the dark clouds are lifting over that vast expanse of the rest of the country, and what is revealed is an approachable, yet forward-thinking sensibility. And you can also great a great hot dog while you're at it, which isn't such a bad thing.

Using its odd-man-out in the East Coast-West Coast rivalry to its advantage, Chicago has managed to create a homegrown scene without the sense of urgency other design capitals, creating a style that is little more timeless, a little more classic, and a little more resistant to fad-driven whims of style.

Classic Influences with a Modern Twist

"Since our inception 12 years ago we have always had a modern aesthetic," says Steven Burgert, CEO of ID Chicago, the Windy City’s home base for home d├ęcor. Eschewing the pre-fabricated looks that come from catalogs, ID Chicago shoots for a more personal style, recognizing the wellspring of potential that comes with an empty room, redecoration, or full re-model.

"While we have recently become more eclectic, we always maintain a modern point of view. We look for unique collections and feature pieces that we truly believe in and have a lasting design."

Favoring Dutch and Italian influences, in describing the underlying principles and designs of his company, a common word on Burgert’s lips is "modern" - but with a catch. While it is a forgone conclusion that everything old is new again, and that the simple lines and right angles common in ID Chicago’s inventory recall the smart, distinctive Mid-Century Modern style immortalized by "Mad Men" and "The Jetsons", also present is an ephemeral soothing snugness. It is Mod, and yet...not.

"We take a classic piece and make it more updated, modifying it so it has a more current style," says Burgert of the magic he and his partner of 16 years Anthony Almaguer employ.

Take a Seat

ID Chicago’s showroom covers everything from overhead lighting to fireplaces and desks to decanters, but epitomizing the store’s aesthetic is the Edward Couch by Bensen.

The name references American mid-century designer Edward Wormley and the piece itself clearly contains echoes of Florence Knoll. Scaled up to proportions to fit contemporary tastes, its rounded edges pervade a decidedly un-Mod degree of comfy, down-filled fluffiness so it swaddles those sitting on it. The result is a large piece that looks small and feels welcoming but is neither retro nor even faux-retro.

"Our clientele is savvy; they know what they want," Burgert says, and highlights that ID Chicago has established exclusive agreements with Artifort, Bensen, Gus, and Blu Dot, allowing clients to peruse pieces in the store’s showroom that even the most dedicated Google search cannot find. But even armed with names and know-how, Burgert recalls that ID Chicago initially had a hard sell.

"In the beginning, our clients’ styles were more traditional, much more safe. And if they are still on that traditional side, we find them pieces that work with their style but give them a more modern edge. But we have made them aware that there aren’t as many rules to design. It’s fine to mix and match styles, to be more eclectic. To really find pieces that reflect their personality."

See and Be Seen

And not just a personality’s living room. Not confined to the home, Burgert and ID Chicago do not hesitate to gussy-up a client directly with a line of eyewear spanning the trim, wire frames of Revolution to the more chunky designs of Tom Davies.

"We are seeing a wide range of trends for eyewear," Burgert muses, and offers some insight of what he sees coming doing the pike for Summer/Fall 2013. "Customized frames are most popular, the use of natural materials such as real wood temples, carbon fiber, flexible stainless steel. We are also seeing the return of classic shapes. A vintage appeal with a bigger shape."

ID Chicago’s skillful navigation of the old-but-new/vintage-but contemporary has long since won over the first feelings of hesitancy on the part of the clientele, having been listed on as one of the best home stores in Chicago. ID Chicago’s popularity and vision have proven such a hits, Burgert is moving the brand into real estate ventures.

"Our clients are professionals that want to create a style and identity in their home and in their personal accessories," he says, finishing with what has become the motto of the space:

"We have been helping people living who they are."

ID Chicago
?3337 North Halsted Street?

An Eye For Style

Heading to Chicago and want to check out more design and home stores? Here’s a shortlist:

Arts & Artisans
One of Downtown’s largest showcases of contemporary American art and jewelry, providing a vast collection of art media including stained and blown glass, metal and wood sculpture, artfully crafted jewelry, functional and decorative ceramics, finely woven wearables and exquisite paintings and prints.

The Merchandise Mart
More than 200 luxury showrooms for kitchen, bath & building products, custom home furnishings, fabrics, floor & wall coverings, lighting, antiques & more.

Pulp & Ink
Consider adding the art of the handcrafted letter back into your repertoire of communication by picking up some stationary at this exquisite shop in Chicago’s Old Town.

David Perry is a freelance travel and news journalist. In addition to EDGE, his work has appeared on ChinaTopix, Thrillist, and in Next Magazine and Steele Luxury Travel among others. Follow him on Twitter at @GhastEald.


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