You may have heard of interior designer Kara Mann (she's a bit of a star—she's been called the Queen of Mod, and her work has appeared in all the major shelter magazines). This weekend, she's on call to discuss her mix of restrained glamor in a renovation of a classic Beaux Arts penthouse apartment on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. Ask her anything for the next 48 hours.
Respectful of this apartment’s elegant proportions and original architectural details, Kara Mann (a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) decided to pare down the interior, allowing the classic architecture to speak for itself. She then sculpted the flow of spaces and created drama between the dark public spaces and the more light and ethereal private spaces by using only two paint colors throughout.
When it comes to dressing the spaces, Mann’s background in fashion, art and design is apparent as she moves seamlessly among the three. Rules or trends mean little to her, as she creates homes that reflect the psychology her clients. “It’s about collecting things or evoking a moment that is special to the person,” she says. “A well-lived life in whatever form you choose is the true meaning of luxury.”
Photography by Adam Heneghan, unless otherwise noted.
Above: A vintage antler and pine table that Mann found in an antique store in LA contributes to the drama of the dark entry hall painted a dark shade of brown, invented by Mann herself.
Above: Dark walls and light furniture continue Mann's theatrical aesthetic. Her brand of luxury speaks of comfort and space. "Everything you put in a room should have a purpose," she says.
Above: A lover of luxury, Mann's favorite brands are Hermes and Chrome Hearts: "Classic old-world luxury with an edge." The skull lamp from Blackman Cruz brings this tension into the apartment.
Above: Dashes of color are introduced through art in the library.
Above: Mann selected furniture that was simple and streamlined so as not to compete with the architecture.
Above: In the media room, with its light colored walls, Mann plays with contrasts again and uses dark furniture.
Above: Mann stresses the importance of using a lighting designer in order to achieve the "right layering of pendant lights, table lamps, and down lights."
Above: The photographic triptych by renowned Japanese fashion photographer Izima Kaoru sets the mood in the dining room. The photographer collaborated with famous Japanese actresses to stage elaborate death scenes. In this photo, the subject dies from the beauty of the cherry blossoms while wearing couture from Louis Vuitton. "Art is a part of the layering process in dressing the space," says Mann.
Above: A mixture of soft white textures from sheer bed curtains and drapes to an Hermes mohair throw creates a peaceful and restful bedroom. In the light filled room, the chunky baroque chair from Chrome Hearts provides another contrast.
Above: Mann likes to purchase the art of emerging contemporary artists. "I particularly like these drawings by Canadian artist Marcel Dzama, because there is a story behind the art that engages me."
Above: The designer Kara Mann in her Chicago showroom. The Chicago native splits her time between Chicago and New York. Photograph by Tony Soluri.
N.B. Intrigued by the drama of Kara Mann's dark walls? See 2454 images of Dark Walls in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.