Aria Group has been designing restaurants for over 34 years, but we recently experienced unique challenges while working on Amy’s Drive Thru in Roseville, California. Partnering with a client committed to the environment and social well-being enabled us the opportunity to design a restaurant with a Living Roof. Amy’s is the first Certified B Corporation fast-food restaurant, leading the charge in vegetarian/plant-based options. “Certified B Corporations are leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. Unlike other certifications for businesses, B Lab is unique in our ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.” – Bcorporation.net. This project strives to educate – showcasing its environmental and social concerns through its teamwork, commitment to climate concerns, and ultimately its design. The following is its story…
Designing a Restaurant with a Living Roof was made possible through collaboration with our client and many partners. Our team included: Amy’s Drive Thru, KDC Construction, Clarke and Reilly, Chestnut Company, MFSD+B, Henderson Engineering, Hart Gaugler & Associates, Kier + Wright, Camp & Camp Associates, Inc., and Symbios Ecotecture.
“The living roof at our Roseville Amy’s Drive Thru is not only beautiful – it also promotes a number of environmental benefits including reduced energy requirements, retention of stormwater on-site, habitat biodiversity and reduction of the heat island effect, just to name a few.” – Jason Dedmore, Director of Real Estate & Development at Amy’s Drive Thru, Inc.
A living roof offers many benefits to a building and the environment. The mass of the soil acts as a great insulator helping to regulate the buildings internal temperature. This allows for less heating or cooling and an overall lower energy bill. The return on investment varies per geographical region but Roseville offered a great opportunity for Amy’s.
The soil and plants absorb rainwater and hold it on site versus running off directly into the sewer system. Holding more rainwater onsite reduces strain on the sewer system leading to less flooding. This does create the need for a slightly larger structure to support the roof and more caution with waterproofing the building roof, but Aria worked with Amy’s to celebrate the resulting gabled structure by exposing it inside the dining room and celebrating the design on the interior.
Environmentally, the Living Roof also offers a reduction to the urban heat island effect. Higher temperatures in urban areas leads to higher cooling loads in buildings, increasing the carbon footprint, compounding the Climate Crisis.
Growing plants does take time — see below photos of the plants at restaurant opening and six months later. Plant selection is an important process that Symbios Ecotecture and Camp & Camp teamed up to provide the best options of native species to thrive. The selected plants also create a habitat for pollinators and birds, increasing biodiversity.
The architecture, with cues from agricultural structures, is simple in form, but form follows function in creating various dining opportunities and protecting patrons and employees from Roseville’s climate. The design team chose to have a gabled roof to showcase the Living Roof to patrons and the community, creating a green beacon for Amy’s Drive Thru. A living roof is very much a team effort, affecting not just design but our consulting engineers. By having conversations early and often the team was able to deliver a sustainable end result.
Aria Group will continue to innovate and lead by example in keeping social, economic, and environmental concerns top of mind. We are excited to collaborate on designs that continue to enrich our communities and the environment through our designs leading to a more harmonious future with our planet.
Our design team hit the ground running on this one! An untimely change in project resources meant that our client was left without a designer and a fast-paced project timeline! Our design team jumped in and crafted an enlivened interior concept focusing on the area’s historic roots and the client’s vision of a high-end boutique experience.
This area in Sister Bay, WI is known for the beauty of its natural landscape and connection to an expansive shoreline. Long-time residents & visitors alike have come to deeply appreciate the weaving hiking paths, sprawling orchards, restaurant & bar corridors alongside the shopping & arts districts. All of which make it an incredible location for a stay at this year-round boutique hotel!
Door County is also home to an exquisite Scandinavian heritage, which became a main concept driver for the design of the DoRR Hotel. Our design process began with the concept of ‘hygge’ – a Danish term focusing on the idea of “coziness” or invoking the feeling of deep contentment & well-being. We did this through the lighter color palette and bringing in warm finishes and elements.
Beginning with entry into the lobby spaces, guests are greeted by a premier, on-site, guests service team stationed behind marble-look stone and rustic wood features. The atmosphere is equally homey and sophisticated – ensuring guests feel invited to gather around for a drink, snack, or even to play a board game at the various seating styles & arrangements. The furniture throughout the project was selected and designed to be the perfect blend of Scandinavian minimalism and mid-century modern. Rich and warm accent colors pocketed within an airy and natural palette.
The brighter, lightly finished, wood tones are contrasted by blackened metal accents and luxe plaster-work, both bringing forth deeper colorways. Soft seating is wrapped in distressed leathers, beige twills and deep, moody, blue and green tones. A fire-wood installation adds warms and definition, while drawing your eye up to the natural cedar beams above.
The DoRR Hotel houses 47 well-appointed guestrooms highlight the gorgeous views within light and airy spaces, allowing guests to relax and unwind in. All guest rooms feature white shiplap walls, herringbone flooring and custom white oak and leather furnishings. Eight of the guestrooms take the form of unique suite-style spaces featuring unique floor plans, bay-facing balcony views, high-end furnishings and thoughtful in-room amenities.
Guests of the suites are invited to cozy up alongside the linear electric fireplaces, watch the sunset on the outdoor terrace or unwind with cup of tea from the custom-crafted navy blue shaker-style kitchenette space.
Both the guestroom and lobby spaces share a design that is centered around the ideas crucial to the Danish concept of hygge. With furniture & materials that embody a sense of elevated comfort, warmth and conversation. The multifunctional lounge spaces throughout the lobby floors, alongside the unique suites and guestrooms, ensure that each stay provides a new experience!
General Contractor: Bayland Buildings Inc.
Photographer: Ballogg Photography
To read more about the DoRR Hotel project, check out our Case Study here!Meet the Team: Ndeye Fatou Daikhate Njie
Welcome to another addition of the Meet the Team! Fatou has been with us since June 2019 and has quickly made her mark on our team by being a REVIT expert and is one of our BIM Coordinators. As an Architectural Designer, Fatou has a lot of involvement with the Dave & Buster’s brand, working on multiple locations from Cary, NC to the newest projects in Texas & Pennsylvania. She also has been involved with Supercharged, the Hawthorne Casino project, and has even worked a bit with Cooper’s Hawk on one of their new locations. Prior to her time at Aria, she worked at a handful of other local architecture firms and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for her degree in Architecture. Read on below to learn more about Fatou!
Where did you grow up? Senegal, known as the “Gateway to Africa” and located at the western-most point of the continent is served by multiple air and maritime travel routes. The country lies at an ecological boundary where semiarid grassland, oceanfront, and tropical rainforest converge. Fun Fact: There is an exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago about Senegal.
Do you have any children? How many and what are their names and ages? Yes, Ramatoulie (12) Abdoul Ahad (3)
What is your ideal “I think I’ll call in sick today” day? Rainy Day (I hope this will not catch up with me one day, lol).
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything I sign up for, I give it my all. An example of this is the first time I came to the US, I had decided to go to school here despite studying in French language all my life. Some people had said not to bother with the studies because it was their opinion that a lot of immigrants that started school here did not finish. This made it a competition for me.
Also, another example that is more recent, was during Aria’s summer wellness challenge (which I am on top of the leaderboard). The challenge consists of daily tasks that we have to complete in order to build some healthy habits. I’ll let you in on a secret (don’t tell my competitors), I go to the gym at 6:00 am for an hour just to get half of my 10,000 steps in daily.
Best travel story? I have a few, but I’ll go with my Chile trip. Summer 2016 while at IIT we traveled to Chile for our Design Build Studio. Even though it was hectic, it was a great experience. We designed a Pavilion in the Spring semester and built it that summer in Chile. The project won the AIA Chicago Small Project Honor Awards in 2018, and received an Honorable Mention for the Roberta Feldman Architecture for Social Justice Awards. You can read more on the project here & here.
What would be the one thing you would bring on a deserted island and why? A book, I love to read and won’t mind being alone.
Speaking of books, What’s the last book you read? The Harry Potter Collection (I bought them for my daughter but finished them before her).
Books aside, what’s the last TV show you binged/watched? Current favorite Movie? Criminal Minds & The Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson
Most memorable project? Dave & Buster’s in Cary North Carolina. This is because it was a new prototype design which also was challenged with a complex building structure making for a unique design opportunity.
Would you rather be poor with great style/taste or rich with horrible style/taste? Rich with horrible style/taste. I don’t really care what people think about my style as long as I’m comfortable.Meet the Team: Nathan Kiecker
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! This month, we would like you to meet Nathan Kiecker. Nathan is an Architectural Designer and has been a part of the Aria Group team since 2019. Recently, Nathan’s focus has been on several Shake Shack projects around the U.S. and his technical talents have been instrumental to several other sports entertainment venues like Topgolf and the Henrico Sports Complex. Rounding out his hospitality experience, Nathan is also on the team that designed three new food & beverage spaces within Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Continue reading to learn more about Nathan!
What project are you most proud of since being at Aria Group? That would be my first project ever: Shake Shack San Francisco Centre. It was a small interior buildout in the Westfield Mall but it taught me the detailed intricacies that smaller projects require when designing in an existing space. I would liken it to mastering a game of Tetris. Being a part of the process was definitely very rewarding specifically in detailing and coordinating an angular design.
Where did you grow up? I grew up, and still live, in Berwyn, Illinois. Berwyn is 10 minutes south of Oak Park where Aria is located so I have been familiar with the area and surroundings all my life. It is really nice being close by our office.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? Since childhood, I have always wanted to be an architect. It may sound cliché, but being introduced and experiencing Frank Lloyd Wright’s residential work along with his home and studio—just minutes from my own home—was very influential. I took that direction and passion and have built my career toward that goal.
How many siblings do you have and are they anything like you? I have two older sisters Nicole (the oldest) and Nora (Middle) which makes me the baby. A fun fact is our names start with the letter N, and I would say all three of us have design-orientated minds as do our parents, who are both graphic designers. We all followed in their footsteps.
What is something you get overly competitive about and why? Anything sports-related, definitely golf. If I wanted to be completely honest though, I’m competitive when it comes to anything that involves two individuals and an end goal of winning. Being competitive is a personal driver for me but when I’m working with my team – I want my team to be successful first and foremost.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? Pasta! I have eaten it so much that now I can make my own sauce from scratch. It’s just one of those easy quick meals that can be made anytime.
What’s the last TV show you binge-watched? Ozark. Season 4, Part 1.
What’s your current favorite TV show? Peacemaker! If you have not seen, or heard of this, do yourself a huge favor and have a blast. Thank me later.
What is in the trunk of your car right now? My golf clubs. I’m always prepared for a round with the boys, weather permitting of course. But then again, that is what Topgolf is for!
What is something most people don’t know about you? I collect sneakers. #Sneakerhead. I have really stepped up my game in the last 5 years. I usually wear beaters during the winter, but when the weather warms up be on the lookout for the heat!
Do you have a favorite travel story? So this is not one of my best stories, but it’s definitely one I’ll always remember. When I was in college I decided to wait in line for the new iPhone (at the time it was the iPhone 6). In-store purchasing started at 6am on a Saturday morning at this particular mall which was roughly 15 miles away from college. I had the bright idea of biking there to be one of the first to purchase. So I left and headed out around 8pm the evening before. Since this part of Michigan did not have many sidewalks or street lights, I had to bike up and down hilly roads overnight holding a flashlight in one hand and cars racing past me. After 2 hours of biking I arrived. Following several cups of coffee at a nearby Denny’s, I headed over to the mall to jump in line. It was incredible how many people rushed in all at once—many of them serial early adopters who always flood Apple stores for the next upgrade. The experience was chaos! Pushing, shoving— pure CHAOS! Even an ambulance arrived to help with injuries. When I finally made it to the front of the line, I learned that I needed my parent to verify the account information. The crazy adventure was all for nothing. Ever since, I happily just order online!
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our Blog!
Aria Group: Beat the Streets
We are excited to share another successful pro bono project that extends our continued commitment to social responsibility, environmental stewardship, equity and inclusion. Aria Group began collaborating in 2020 with Beat the Streets on their new South Archer Avenue wrestling facility located in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood of Chicago—a project that would transform and directly improve a community by introducing expanded equity programs to reach a larger audience and girls in particular. Beat the Streets Chicago is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower Chicago youth through wrestling. They believe that wrestling has the ability to positively impact both physical health and social emotional learning, creating “Life Champions.” This program, when combined with other in-house enrichment programming, empowers Chicago youth with a pathway to positive life outcomes. We couldn’t be more proud to highlight our continued commitment to take part in such projects that allow us to donate our talent and time through conceptualization and meaningful design solutions.
We worked with Executive Director, Mike Powell, to design a space that fit the needs of this growing organization. The space contains two wrestling rooms, a weight room, a coach’s office, two locker rooms, a referee’s locker room, and a classroom for enrichment programs that include a range of coaching initiatives around test prep and tutoring to mentoring students on financial literacy and nutritional wellness.
Alongside Aria Group, Stages Construction and BTR Engineers donated their time and resources to make this project possible. Aria Group is honored to have been able to aid in the impactful mission behind Beat the Streets. We are excited to see this new facility used to its fullest extent and for the Beat the Streets team to continue with their pivotal role of empowering our Chicago youth.
Our team for this project consisted of Josh Curvey, Doug Lueken, Lillian Reyes-Brahar, Joe Junius, Katherine Dafcik, and Chris Wilson.
General Contractor: Stages Construction
MEP Engineer: BTR Engineering
Structural Engineer: Hart Gaugler
Meet the Team: Kyle Miller
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! Kyle Miller began at Aria Group in February 2015 as an Architectural Technician and was recently promoted to Project Coordinator. He brings an attention to detail and a positive outlook to every project he works on – we’re lucky to have him as a part of our team! A short list of clients Kyle has worked with include Buddy’s Pizza, Topgolf, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Copa Kitchen & Bar, and Dos Toros Taqueria in Chicago. Kyle is proud to have had the opportunity to help establish Topgolf’s latest single-level concept and his detailing work on the Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in San Diego California. That project helped Aria Group secure the NEWH Top ID award.
Where and what did you study in undergrad and grad school? I studied at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where I received my undergrad and graduate degree in Architecture. I was also a graduate assistant in the digital fabrication lab and worked at the Campus Architecture Office.
Where did I grow up? I grew up in Warrenville, Illinois.
Do you have a child? My wife Colleen and I had our first child, McKenzie Harper, last November. She is the joy of our lives and such a happy little girl.
Do you have any pets? One dog – she’s spunky and sweet and looks like a teddy bear. Her name is Sadie Mae and has her own Instagram and at one time had more followers than Aria Group. Sadie is 5 years old and is a Havanese.
Best travel story? For our honeymoon we went to Italy. We immersed ourselves into the culture and traveled only by foot or public transit. We stayed only at local bed and breakfasts. We traveled to the Vatican in Rome, did a cooking class with a chef in Florence, explored St. Mark’s Square in Venice, and enjoyed the views in Positano.
Favorite Restaurant in Chicago? Lou Malnati’s. What is more Chicago than deep dish pizza?
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Vanilla but that’s because it needs to be paired with brownies or blueberry pie.
What is your drink of choice? Blue Moon Belgian White with an orange slice and a splash of orange juice.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I am a black belt in two styles of martial arts Tang Soo Do and Hapkido. I practiced for 10 years and was an instructor for all ages but loved teaching the little ones.
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our blog!Meet the Team: Brian Zielinski
Welcome to another edition of Meet the Team! Brian Zielinski is a Project Manager at Aria Group who just celebrated 15 years with our firm. He joined our team in 2006 as an Architectural Technician and has been practicing architecture for 17 years. Brian has managed a variety of projects in our office, including Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Buddy’s Pizza, Topgolf, and Nando’s. He is currently working on an exciting sports complex that we are designing on the east coast! He says he has a hard time choosing a favorite project as there are so many that standout, but mentions the Topgolf Nashville music venue and Perry’s Steakhouse in Schaumburg. Another that brings back memories is a California Pizza Kitchen in Tempe, AZ, which is where it all started for him at Aria. Fun Fact: Brian almost didn’t study architecture. He credits staying close to his hometown as a main reason that he eventually landed at Aria Group. Lucky for us that Brian made the right decision and our team and our clients have all benefited. To learn about more fun facts about Brian, read on!
Do you have children? How many and what are their names and ages? My wife and I have two beautiful, smart, and wonderful girls: Elizabeth (12) and Katelyn (8). Elizabeth is an old soul, very creative, and artistic. Katelyn is a little spit fire, always looking for fun, and is very competitive. We are so lucky to have them in our lives.
Do you volunteer any of your time with your kids’ activities? I volunteer my time and coach any sport my daughters want to play – soccer, volleyball, softball, golf and now probably basketball this winter. I grew up playing sports of all kinds and have played travel soccer and club volleyball for many years and played volleyball in college. In the past, I’ve coached volleyball at the collegiate level and at an elite volleyball club in the Chicagoland area, so naturally I figured I’d get back into coaching with my girls when they were ready. I’ve always felt playing sports is such a crucial thing for kids to be a part of to learn about hard work, team work, responsibility, facing adversity, success, struggles, the highs, the lows – it all helps them in anything they decide to do in life. It’s also such a joy to teach kids and develop their skills. The transition from the beginning of a season to the end is amazing to watch the progress the kids make in a short amount of time.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why? From the earliest I can remember, I wanted to be an engineer or architect. I was always building or tinkering with something when I was a kid. My uncles were engineers, my Grandpa loved to draw and paint, and my Dad can fix just about anything. They all had a tremendous influence on me and the profession I chose.
If you had a boat, what would you name it and why? (stupid names only) Comfortably Numb. Yes, Pink Floyd fan guilty as charged if you get the reference. This was a good bar name I came up with when I designed a bar in college, but I’m more likely to own a boat than a bar in my lifetime. The name definitely fits the boating lifestyle.
What is your ideal “I think I’ll call in sick today” day? Really not my cup of tea to call in a PTO day if I’m busy, but 75 degrees, light breeze, not a cloud in the sky is ideal – I’d be teeing it up on the golf course. Afterwards I’d spend time with family or friends. Those that know me well know I’d be back online taking care of business in the evening.
Since we are all foodies, share your favorite restaurant in Chicago: Vie which is Chef Paul Virant’s fine dining restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. It had a Michelin star for a couple of years about a decade ago which is the reason why we tried it out originally. My wife and I had a wonderful experience their the first time we went. Our waiter that night happened to also be the sommelier, and he took us on a tour of the wine cellar and the kitchen after we were done with dinner. I highly recommend as the food is incredible, the presentation magnificent, and the staff is so personable.
What’s the last book you read? The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. I’m a history geek and love how Erik Larson books intertwine non-fiction historic events into a story.
Words you live by and why? Work hard, tell the truth, and do the right thing. Growing up my family always stressed these things, but it wasn’t until recent years that I combined all of these as it was a motto I’ve heard from my wife’s late uncle who was an outstanding guy and inspiration to many.
You have to wear a t-shirt with one word on it every day for one year. What word do you choose and why? “Relax.” Why? Because everyone needs to relax a little bit and take a deep breath every once in a while. We all need to chill out and recharge to get ready for the next task, the next adventure. (“Booya!” is a close second and maybe the word on the back of the t-shirt.)
Check out other editions of Meet the Team on our blog!Reinventing the American Mall
Take a drive down the business highway in most mid-size towns, and odds are that you will inevitably pass by one of the great relics of a bygone era in American culture. The indoor mall was once the epicenter of shopping convenience and consumer capitalism in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Check out this video of the Richfield Edina shopping mall from 1956 — a flashback to this era and one of the earliest malls in the United States. Southdale 1956 – Richfield Edina Shopping Mall
Today many indoor malls are in a state of suspended animation – a gawky, mammoth lying dormant as the pulse of shopping has run back to main street, lifestyle centers, and of course online retail. Many of the flagship brands that iconized the mall era have long since flown the coop for more lucrative pastures, and the bare bones of what remains – empty shops, food courts, theatres, arcades, plazas, and stalls – sit idly awaiting reinvention.
It doesn’t take too much digging to unearth why: simply put, the existing mall format does not meet the more holistic needs of today’s generation. This may be most notable when one compares the typical mall configuration, which relies almost entirely on the foot traffic generated by big-box stores, to the rising trend for more integrated lifestyle design, particularly the “live, work, shop, play” format. When you lump in the growing desire for walkability and sustainable urban design, it becomes very easy to scrutinize the visual, and often visceral, reaction that malls evoke; the far out, windowless behemoth sized complexes, which often float in a sea of parking lots, turn customers away through its lack of appeal and accommodation. In short, if indoor malls want to continue to be relevant, they must confront the changing epoch in front of them and seriously commit to an identity make over.
The paradox is that malls are well-practiced in reinventing themselves. New stores, kiosks, seasonal displays, and even small fast-food retailers flip in and out of plug-and-fill spaces all the time. This highlights one of the great silver-linings for malls looking to adapt: the archetype of mall spaces makes them extremely changeable by design. The more demanding work lies in integrating atypical programs to the standard mall framework, such as housing, entertainment, and recreation. At such a large scale, the role of the designers and architects in this realm cannot be understated; planners and developers must become skilled alchemists who balance the correct blend of programs and utilities to address the morphing needs of future dwellers and patrons, while also keeping costs and existing programs in check.
At Aria Group, our team approached this endeavor by applying our knowledge and long standing history of experiential design and thinking about how we can alter the framework of malls to meet the needs of today. In particular, our team developed a number of proposed interventions for the Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, IL, which like many malls has shared in the saga of continual decline in recent years. Regarding the strategy for revitalization, Principal Frank Cavanaugh wrote, “ the key strategy we see in giving new life to malls is turning them inside out. Carving out and demolishing underutilized gross leasable area (GLA) to create more elevated exterior tenant visibility and enhanced guest experiences”.
This includes introducing lively restaurant concepts that perforate the building’s envelope, especially where they might enrichen existing mall entrances, and adding a mix of other lifestyle businesses like spas, health clubs, grocers, and medical offices. Similarly, exterior spaces and parking lots can be converted to event lawns, seasonal skating rinks, beer gardens, and other mixable entertainment spaces to bring more meaningful and attractive entertainment to the surface of the mall.
The mission to diversify the mall’s retail base goes beyond just a facelift however. The proposition also includes the potential to infuse multi-unit residential and office spaces into the existing complex, turning the typical weekend shopping center into a vibrant community of workers and neighbors. This contemporary pairing of program is akin to the complexion of the traditional town center, where shopping is just an element in the macro-experience of everyday life. In fact, it is precisely the varied assortment of experiences that we believe will make Stratford Square such a desirable place to live, and bring patrons back to visit time and time again.
To investigate the potential design possibilities in more depth, Aria Group also conducted a case study of a revival of the Charlestown Mall in St. Charles, Illinois. Check out our next post where we share our exploration into the merger of programs and the spatial opportunities that could re-define the future of America’s malls.
Meet the Team: Martika Camacho
Our team is the soul of Aria Group and key to our success and growth as a company. Martika is a great example of one of our team members that has grown within Aria through her great work ethic and dedication to her projects and clients. Martika began at Aria in 2013 as a design librarian, where she was able to become familiar with the products and reps we work with and get her feet wet on interior design projects. She was a natural fit at Aria and joined full time upon completing her interior design degree at Columbia College. Now, fast forward 7 years – Martika is an experienced designer and finding herself taking on a significant design role on many projects.
Martika can be counted on to volunteer for the office outside of her daily work. She works with our wellness committee and dominated the runway as the model for our entry to the IIDA Stitch Competition, where our team took home Best of Show honors in 2020. “We partnered with Mapei and Ceramic Technics,” Martika recalls by saying, “we were all so proud of our accomplishment and that’s why it stands out so much!”
But there is more to this Fierce competitor and dedicated team member. To learn more about Martika and her personal interests, read on below!
What is something you get overly competitive about? Everything. Just kidding, I am very competitive in my health and fitness goals. When I am not signed up for a race, I am often joining a fitness/wellness challenge organized by influencers that inspire me. I feel if you have a passion, surround yourself with likeminded people and follow likeminded content. It’s amazing how a little bit of shared passion fuels you further.
What was your first job? dELiA*s “fashion representative” – we had to answer the phone with a bubbly line “We’re having a great day at dELiA*s!” and offer up a compliment to everyone that walked through those doors. The walls were bursting of graphic tees and quirky patterns. I can safely say I worked there for the discount and can thank them for my bubbly demeanor.
What’s a secret talent that you have? During the holiday season and occasionally in the year, I sell beer bottle/can candles that I craft myself! The upcycled beer bottles are hand cut and sanded by me, tops of cans are opened by me as well. All candles are soy based with a cotton wick and scents are all essential oil based. I treat the candles like a choose your own adventure – pick your bottle/can & pick your scent. I’d say I am a beer connoisseur – one of my favorite podcasts is Good Beer Hunting. Every bottle & brewery has their own story – it makes me happy when I can share my passion with other people that appreciate it. I love beer so much – my husband and I got married at our first craft brew love – Revolution!
Do you have any pets? One dog – he’s a handful but we love him so much! His name is Ernie – Ernest or Ernnifer when he’s in trouble and Ern-bern when he’s a good boy. Ern is about to turn 6. He is a Staffordshire/Beagle/Pit-bull mix.
If you weren’t a designer, you would have been a? If I wasn’t a designer, I would like to picture myself as a successful entrepreneur! Maybe a mix of yoga instructor, craft brewer, local baker, and Etsy vibes? Oh! Maybe it’s a yoga studio connected to a bakery/brewery with my own little shop in front – One can only dream!
Who is your favorite artist? Kozmo – She’s Chicago’s Burger-Flower artist! You can spot her work throughout the city now, most commonly in Pilsen. Her work is so uplifting with her bright color selections and spunky content. What I love most about her is her toon inspiration! I love local artists and scoping out murals throughout the city!
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Homemade ice cream is where it’s at! I love making the Cereal Milk ice cream recipe from the Momofuku Milk Bar book. I’ll often make it with cornflakes and occasionally with Lucky Charms. The Cheesecake ice cream is a dangerous one as well! Also, anything from Salt & Straw is amazing! Recently had their Thanksgiving Turkey flavor that was to drool for. Can you tell I love ice cream?!Recap: Top Posts 2020
As we look forward to a new year of posts, we thought we would revisit our greatest hits of 2020. As we checked our stats, we were not too surprised to find that our top five all have some relation to the story of 2020 – the pandemic. We sought to take a positive spin and push our creativity, while helping to find solutions to tough problems. We hope you find the same.
Masks On Doors Open – Our series on reopening restaurants safely.
Walter’s Favorites: Take-Out – Our principal, CFO, and resident foodie shared his favorite local spots to order-in.
Parklets + The Evolved Patio – Outdoor dining was a hot topic in 2020. This article explores options to expand and improve patio design.
Designer Tips: Home Work Stations – As most of us settled in for a year of remote work our designers share some tips to make your home work station a better place to be.