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Icon Status

They say it takes one to know one. And these five women know an icon when they see it. In fact, they live and breathe iconic design every day in their work—be it apparel, architecture, products, interiors or graphics. Each strives for that mysterious quality that makes something stand the test of time. With that in mind, we asked each lady to choose a chair that best reps her unique style. And, did we mention they also dressed to the nines—in equally famous names in fashion?

From left: Elise Bergman, Nada Andric, Liz Daily, Kara Mann and Tereasa Surratt

1. Elise Bergman
If you dreamt up a synthesis between a chic, polished urbanite and a rustic, earthy gypsy, you’d get this fashion designer in the flesh. Bergman’s journey started young; as a family-taught sewer and self-trained designer, she launched her line of handmade pieces in 2006 and has since planted her feminine, luxe aesthetic in boutiques nationwide. She also set aside time for self-reflection in the mountains of Montana, so her affinity for the outdoors and natural materials made her choice of Charlotte Perriand’s Tokyo outdoor chair an easy one. “I believe design needs to stand alongside craft, intention, artfulness and a consciousness about sustainability and the environment,” says Bergman. $5,795, WPA Chicago, 314 W. Superior St., Suite 110. On Bergman: Beaded dress, $795, by Jovani, at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue; ring, her own design; bracelets, vintage Annie Costello Brown for Cartier; pumps by Salvatore Ferragamo, her own

2. Nada Andric
With enough stamps on her passport to rival the most traveled of the jet set, the associate director of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has been exposed to iconic design the world over. So, it was a surprise ­when Andric showed up on set with the subdued 40/4 chair by David Rowland. “This was an ingenious response to mass gatherings and reconfiguring needs,” she says. “It has an essence of pure efficiency and performance.” An under-the-radar design for quite some time, the chair sat without a patent until 1963, when SOM ordered a lot of 17,000 for its University of Illinois campus project. Millions of units later, the 40/4 has a place in the permanent collections of MoMA, among others. Andric hopes we will remember the chair’s ethos of economic simplicity in the decades to come. “The future is hard to predict: massive globalization, the imperative for sustainability, a changing workplace, new technologies. ... I hope it will be rational and beautiful.” Price by request, at Herman Miller, The Merchandise Mart, Suite 321. On Andric: Blouse by Jil Sander, pants by Leggiadro, black patent-leather pumps by Manolo Blahnik, all her own

3. Liz Daily
Icon status is a tough thing to achieve, but this industrial designer understands that hard work—and homework­—is most important. For a recent gig with physical therapy company Moji, Daily logged countless R&D hours with doctors and athletes before coming up with a scheme that worked with the mechanics of the body—and looks cool too. After all, “design that lasts is design that really resonates with people,” she says. Gerrit Rietveld’s Red and Blue chair, designed in 1918, speaks to Daily, due to its hands-on approach­—it’s assembled using readily available stock lumber components­—and its bold, graphic qualities. “Particular beauty, efficiency, innovation and whimsy­—a combination of these factors creates the magic that contributes to an iconic design,” Daily says. $3,210, WPA Chicago, 314 W. Superior St., Suite 110. On Daily: Top, $298, by DVF, at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue; shoes, her own

4. Kara Mann
The interior designer’s signature mix of raw and refined was the first of its kind: sleek white italian cabinetry with handwoven wicker chairs, African carved-wood tribal tables under smoky glass and brass light fixtures. It’s the past, present and future in one magnificent melting pot­—so, who better to talk timeless aesthetics? “It’s that feeling of ‘I can’t live without it’ in any form,” Mann says of iconic design. “The moment you see something so moving, you know you won’t ever be the same.” Take Franco Albini’s Tre Pezzi Mongolian hairy goat chair from 1952. “This chair has presence,” she says. “Plus, I’m a sucker for anything furry and anything black!” $9,500, WPA Chicago, 314 W. Superior St., Suite 110. On Mann: Dress, $2,625, by Alexander McQueen; heels, $845, by Christian Louboutin, both at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue; necklace by Lanvin, her own

5. Tereasa Surratt
The creative director and partner at Ogilvy & Mather’s down-to-earth but impeccably polished demeanor translates into her design taste. When curating brand campaigns for companies such as Kenmore, Dove, Flor and Steppenwolf, Surratt knows that innovation is important, but paying respects to each client’s past is also key­—a balance that applies to creating a classic product as well. “Iconic design breaks trend and defines its own path,” she says. “It can be polarizing—it almost always creates debate, as with anything that is truly new.” And, when it comes to authenticity, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld’s Zig-Zag chair from 1935 for Cassina fits the bill. “Rietveld was a fearless innovator,” says Surratt. “This particular design transcends a specific design style or era—making a powerful graphic statement wherever it’s planted.” $1,915, WPA Chicago, 314 W. Superior St., Suite 110. On Surratt: Paillette jacket, $495, by Azeeza, at Azeeza US, 900 North Michigan Shops, azeeza.us; floral top, $495, by Josie Natori, at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue; drop earrings, $295, by Oscar de la Renta, at Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue; white pants and shoes, both by H&M, her own