If you thought you had designer Alessandra Branca’s style pegged, think again. The classicist-with-a-twist opened a new shop in Chicago this May that takes her signature style and amps it up a few decibels.
Branca is a 2,700-square-foot lifestyle shop located in a historical 19th-century brownstone two blocks west of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. Bookended by Loyola University buildings, the shop is a study in contrasts.
"I wanted people to walk in and immediately feel disarmed," says Alessandra. "It’s meant to make you smile and to inspire."
The palette is pure Alessandra—with a dash of verve. Traditional delft blue meets vivid raspberry and acid green. Exotic tribal textiles mingle with hunting-lodge plaids. Affordable pieces mix with "It’s-how-much?" one-off finds. Antiques hold court with state-of-the-art contemporary pieces.
"We live in a world where everything seems to be made by the thousands. Things should be special—unique. We try to offer those things here, and to create a space that is home-felt," notes the designer.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be Branca without a few of Alessandra’s repurposed classics. Empire lamps are freshened with lampshades made of unfussy ticking. Delicate vintage fabric trims are framed and meant to be hung as works of art. Eighteenth-century French church artifacts live again as elegant lamps.
How does Alessandra make it all work together? "It all kind of comes together somehow," she muses, "a little like stir-fry."
Photography: Werner Straube