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Classic Chicago Collection

The email’s subject line was simply “Windy City.”

A job transfer was sending the investment banker, his wife and their four sons to Chicago, and they had already purchased a 16th-floor apartment in the city’s historic Gold Coast district. The area is known for its stately homes and high-rise residential buildings, just a stone’s throw from beautiful Lake Michigan.

The email was sent to a designer who had previously worked on their Long Island apartment. Since the family was comprised of six people and a dog, they asked for something that would combine urban chic with practical living space.

The Apartment

The designer, architect and more than 100 tradesmen got to work. The original four bedrooms were converted into five, and high-end wallpaper and ceiling finishes were installed. Since everyone in the family was tall, all doorways were raised to 7½ feet. Furnishings were drawn from many different periods and styles, creating an eclectic look that blended dashes of 1930s Art Deco with both mid-century modern and contemporary styles. When it was done, the overall vibe of the pristine renovated apartment could best be described as “Chic Streamline Moody Moderne.”

The couple’s living room popped with blues, oranges, yellows, purples and grays. It was furnished with elements from different styles and periods, such as a Louis XVI-style library chair, a Baker armchair and ottoman, a German Biedermeier center table, a French folding stool and agate-topped tables. Two cyanotypes by artist by John Dugdale hung on the wall near the fireplace, and nearby were a pair of Hervé Van der Straeten sconces and a mustard-colored Dennis & Leen library chair. On the mantle were two contemporary granite Bi disks and some mid-century modern glazed vessels. The adjacent wall hosted a mid-century T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings chest of drawers, a gilt-faux bois mirror, and a gorgeous shagreen lamp with a custom-made square lampshade.

The dining area featured a bay window that looked out over the lake, and a custom Harvey Probber-style sofa, as well as vintage T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings klismos chairs, provided seating for the small rosewood table.  A longer rectangular table was flanked on each side by custom dining chairs wrapped in full-grain, orange leather. Against the wall stood a Roman Thomas console with custom leather doors, and a wall sconce provided additional lighting.

The Collection

Sotheby’s Home has acquired more than 40 items from the couple’s collection, which includes such brands as Donghia, Holly Hunt, Reed & Barton, De Gandt, Dmitriy & Co, Pampaloni, Aero Studios, Frag, Soane Britain, Dennis and Leen, Studio van den Akker, Widdicomb and Seguso.

Among the items available are some from the dining room that were mentioned above. The set of eight custom wrapped dining chairs are for sale. They are upholstered in orange full-grain leather and have brass legs and accents. The rosewood table is also available; the round, mid-century modern table (circa 1950) has a diameter of 47 inches, and its four-footed base is covered with gold leaf. Finally, a set of four dark brown Empire-style klismos chairs are offered. Made of mahogany, each chair has a custom velvet seat attached to the woven leather seat. The klismos chair, with its curved backrest and tapered, outward-splaying legs, had its origin in ancient Greece. The style became popular in Paris in the late 18th century and again during the Art Deco period of the 1930s.

Items available from the living room include a Dmitriy & Co. Grand Sablon sofa. This generously-sized piece measures 95 inches wide and 38 inches deep. The beige sofa features a single tufted seat and four pillows, two of which are the same fabric as the sofa itself. The skirt has bands of ivory, pumpkin and brown, contrasting nicely with the light beige color.

Also from the living room is the luxurious five-drawer chest, which was mentioned above. Although the front of the beautifully lacquered birch piece gives the appearance of nine drawers in three rows, the top two rows are split into two drawers each. This mid-century modern piece was made by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, a prominent British-born architect and designer who created interiors for the likes of Elizabeth Arden and Aristotle Onassis. In his furniture designs, he eschewed the bulky, sharp edges of many of his contemporaries, preferring classical Greek and Art Deco profiles and elements.

The Biedermeier pedestal table that adorned the couple’s living room was also acquired by Sotheby’s Home. Dating to about 1825, the beautifully ebonized and lacquered table sits on a carved pedestal and three curved feet. The round table has a diameter of 48 inches.

From the breakfast room comes a set of six Dongia Aziano dining chairs. The armless chairs feature molded seats and curved backs covered in black leather with an embossed stripe running down the center. Lacquered black metal hairpin legs add to the classic style. These chairs provided seating around a Soane Britain yacht table, also available at Sotheby’s Home. The 56-inch-diameter round table was custom made with ebonized wood. It features polished chrome around the tabletop edge, and the chrome-and-wood pedestal and base match the table perfectly.

The collection also includes a number of different chairs, including:

  • A Dennis and Lean carved bergére upholstered in mustard-colored full-grain leather. The elegantly carved frame has a distressed wood finish and is accented with brass nailhead trim.
  • Two Emeco officer’s swivel chairs that feature a brushed aluminum frame, molded plastic arms and a navy blue leather seat and back. Sold separately.
  • A set of three Frag counter stools finished in zippered gray leather over polished chrome frames. The seat is angled slightly back, and the half-back is modestly contoured. With a seat height of 25 inches, these stools are perfect for a bar or kitchen counter.
  • A Regency closed armchair upholstered in rich, brick-red leather. The carved mahogany frame features lovely thin arms and fluted arm posts, and the chair moves easily on four bronze casters. The sides and back are covered in velvet that has a large herringbone pattern in burnt orange and cream.

Other pieces in the collection include console and coffee tables, mirrors, lamps, a desk, etagerès, and various vessels and vases.