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Style & The City
Katie Schroeder | Photo: Katrina Wittkamp | March 4, 2014
The creatives behind the city’s most glamorous residences and events don’t just project a trendsetting, chic lifestyle through their work: They live it!
When Brynn Olson was growing up in Birmingham, Ala., she didn’t see herself pursuing a career in design. “I grew up in a place where everyone and their cousin was a decorator, not a designer—big difference!” she says. But after studying art history and sociology, followed by some time abroad, she settled in Chicago, where she had a “light-bulb moment” redecorating a vintage apartment. “My motto has always been: How you shape your space will shape your day,” says the 30-year-old interior designer, who spent more than four years with Nate Berkus Associates. “The power of a newly designed space on the psyche is the most indescribable thing. I’m honored every time a new client asks me to be part of their life in such a personal way.” This spring, Olson celebrates the second anniversary of her entrepreneurial venture, Brynn Olson Design Group. “My personal style is almost identical to how I design spaces—a timeless foundation in structure that’s layered with textures, a splash of color, something antique or vintage and at least one striking wow-factor,” she says. Not surprisingly, Olson spends weekends trolling estate sales or Craigslist hunting for vintage finds. “Designers have a natural proclivity for owning constantly evolving, never-complete homes.”
Bobby Krueger & Peter Koch
To call Mavrek Development Principals Bobby Krueger and Peter Koch general contractors would be selling them short. The Cleveland natives spent several years working in the Chicago market as contractors before launching their business, which combines renovations for residential and commercial clients with a development component they’re launching this year. On the renovation side, Mavrek recently completed a build-out, converting a 9,000-square-foot auto body shop into a modern home for interior designer Tracy Hickman. The development arm also is booming. “We’re currently building spec homes, and over the next 18 months we are building eight new single-family homes and taking them to market ourselves,” says 35-year-old Krueger. “We see so many things that you wouldn’t normally see just on the development side, and we’re able to take all of those elements and apply them to our homes, which gives us an advantage on the market.” Working in desirable neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Lakeview means that picking a premium lot with a few extra square feet is key. “We’re dealing with a rectangle box [for lots] in the city of Chicago, and there’s only so much you can do, unlike the suburbs,” says Koch, 32. “We always try to make each home as different as possible by implementing the lifestyle trends people are expecting in a $2 to $3 million home. We’re pushing the envelope on creativity to take a rectangle and make it feel like much more.”
Jessica Griffin truly stops and smells the roses. The event designer for HMR Designs began her career in the floral business—her passion for which was first cultivated in high school while working at a flower shop in Dearborn, Mich. “I love to make parties look pretty, even the simplest of gatherings,” says the 33-year-old. “There’s just something about a well-set table that makes me happy.” After studying interior design, she realized the event industry was a perfect marriage of her love of blooms and beautiful spaces, and, this year, she’s spearheading a green initiative for HMR that will decrease its environmental footprint through recycling and composting. “My personal style is simple and classic,” says Griffin. “I like texture and patterns, and am not afraid of color.” She believes in quality over quantity when it comes to accessories, such as wearing a simple pair of diamond studs every day. Likewise, she’s a proponent of editing when it comes to designing events, and she sets out to complement a venue’s inherent style, not compete with it. “Chicago is a city rich in history, and I love that I’m able to design for so many spaces that have such architectural integrity,” she says. “My goal is to feel like the elements we bring in could permanently exist in the space.”
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