Grit Meets Glam
High-style shopping finds a new nexus in West Town
Photography by Matthew Gilson
The West Town neighborhood is shedding its rough-and-tumble image and becoming downright chic. In recent months a number of new enterprises have sprung up on Chicago and Grand avenues just east of Ashland Avenue, turning the area into a prime shopping destination for boldly designed furniture and other home goods.
At 3Three Design, the Ova Lounge by Sean Scott
A fiberglass chair by Garcia and table by Shimpi at 3Three Design
Interior designer Bill Bruss's shop, Design Inc., carries an elegant mix of furniture and accessories
Blown-glass vases, vibrant art, and sleek wood sideboard at Xyloform
Wall-mounted wine rack at Xyloform
The Realm offers an ever-changing selection of Asian and African antiques.
At Urban Source, Rose Tejeda-Navarre and Jennifer Rossignuolo bring a contemporary sensibility to wallcoverings, window treatments, and upholstery fabrics.
For years, Xyloform (1423 W. Chicago Ave., 312-455-7949; http://www.xyloform.com/), the retail arm of Lee Weitzman's furniture design business, was a loner here. The shop offers Weitzman's contemporary furniture line, W3, in addition to pieces from emerging local designers, original artwork, and blown-glass vases and lamps. But in the past year, the area has welcomed some promising newcomers: 3Three Design (1431 W. Chicago Ave., 312-738-0333) is a showroom for Sean Scott's forward-thinking Corian lamps and environmentally friendly furniture and lighting, Danny Garcia's upholstered seating, and Pradeep Shimpi's exotic-wood tables. Boutique-gallery Aesthetic Eye (1520 W. Chicago Ave., 312-243-1520) carries an interesting selection of contemporary and antique paintings, furniture, and sculpture. At The Realm (1430 W. Chicago Ave., 312-491-0999; http://www.pacificrealmimports.com/), there's a deep selection of antique Asian and African furniture, most in teak, rosewood, cherry, and mahogany, and home accessories from around the world. "I store at least twice what's on the floor in the basement, and I also create many original pieces," says the owner, Fred Martin.
Just a few blocks south, on Grand Avenue, is the new Design Inc. (1359 W. Grand Ave., 312-243-4333), the retail arm of interior designer Bill Bruss's studio. The store carries an eclectic mix of transitional and contemporary pieces, including beautiful carved-wood headboards, tables, and chairs by the Spanish firm Harrison & Gil, and clean-lined upholstered pieces by Swaim. The store is planning a move to 1139 W. Grand Ave. later this year.
It was the addition of Urban Source (1432 W. Chicago Ave., 312-455-0505; http://www.urbansourcechicago.com/), however, that cemented the area's reputation as a hotbed of home furnishings and design. The brainchild of Rose Tejeda-Navarre and Jennifer Rossignuolo, this showroom offers commercial-quality wallcoverings, window treatments, upholstery fabrics, and more, previously available only to interior designers and Merchandise Mart shoppers.
"We wanted people to walk into the store and say, ‘This is so cool!' but we didn't want to overwhelm them with too many options," Rossignuolo says. The selection skews clean and contemporary, with everything from wall finishes made of crushed windshield glass to woven wire and beaded chain draperies to architecturally inspired upholstery fabrics. Colorful swatches, grouped by price, hang from rods mounted along the walls within easy reach of customers.
"We tried to create a space where shoppers aren't afraid to pull things off the wall and play around with different patterns and textures-where the design process is demystified," says Tejeda-Navarre. The hands-on duo, who encourage customers to bring in paint and carpet swatches for free advice before sifting through the showroom's selection, also offer in-home consultations for a fee.