Written by Rebecca Christian
Photography by Werner Straube
Produced by Hilary Rose & Jo Ann McVicker
Sometimes what you don’t want is more important than what you want. What designer Frank Ponterio didn’t envision in this space in the Ritz Carlton Residences in Chicago was “anything jumpy, jarring, or off-the-wall.” Hence, it is clean-lined with carefully chosen classic pieces. Here, Frank answers some questions about his timeless style and how he incorporated it into this comfortable and completely livable urban apartment.
TH: How did you begin to form a vision for this project?
FP: For the most part, I wanted to design this like it would be my own in-town apartment. That would mean clean lined, tilted toward the masculine, not cluttered, and not necessarily feeling decorated but rather that we had collected and gathered things over time. There’s a heavy emphasis on artistry in the whole suite.
TH: The details in this apartment are exquisite. How did you go about collecting pieces to add to it?
FP: There’s a beautiful handmade floor in the powder room that we designed in New Ravenna, which The Fine Line made for us. It’s stainless steel and marble tatami sticks—small slats of stone that have been cut up and put into a mosaic pattern. Then we have great Degournay custom silk–screened walls. We really tried to focus in on handmade details throughout the space. We’ve got a couple new furniture pieces from my furniture line, a new licensed line we’re doing for Avrett. They’re a great family company that’s been in Charleston for 27 years. They’ll be available at John Rosseli and Michael Taylor around the country. We are very excited about that new partnership. We have a new bed from them, a great console table in the bedroom, and a fantastic cocktail table with a chagrin top in the living room. In addition to that, we designed a new piece in the living room for our own private label. It’s walnut with horn handles, a bellum top, and metal gallery edges. Again, everything is handmade here in the States, by relatively local artists—that was important to me.
TH: How did these details tie into the general aesthetic of the apartment?
FP: As far as the general aesthetic goes, beyond being a little more masculine and clean-lined, we didn’t want any big pops of color, or for one thing to scream louder than anything else in the room. We wanted balance. The palette is more neutral, but hopefully not boring. There’s a lot of texture, a lot of pattern. There will be a lot of tactile experiences for people in the space. The walls in the vestibule to the master bedroom are in cashmere. We’ve got great silk walls in some rooms, parchment in others. We really wanted to take advantage of some of the views that we have. This was designed as an in-town place to come to relax, and not have anything too jumpy, too jarring, too off-the-wall. We’re not trying to shock and awe anybody.
TH: How does all of this fabulous artwork tie into that?
FP: I wanted to have a heavy emphasis on artwork. We spent a lot of time with a great art consultant out of L.A., Joanna Burke. The gala here benefits the Art Institute of Chicago. I’m a board member there, so it’s a double win. We have some pieces from artists that I own at home: a great Hiro Yokose, some Lillian Bassman prints. Also because of my tie to Lake Forest and historic preservation as well as this building itself, we were able to find original prints of historic plat surveys and landscape design along Chicago’s North Shore. I thought that was fitting, and those are scattered throughout.
There’s also a tilt toward a bit more of a modern line by displaying some new media throughout the apartment. We wanted to bridge that gap between historic and very current, very modern. That was important to do in this space.
TH: What were you hoping for guests to feel in this apartment?
FP: I think that in most of my interiors, no matter how formal they are, people feel like they can actually interact with the things that we do. That they can put their feet up if they want to. They’re not afraid to sit on anything. That’s really important to me as far as the design sensibility—it would be tragic if people didn’t want to interact with the space.
Interior designer: Frank Ponterio, Frank Ponterio Interior Design, 500 N. Wells, 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60654; 312/464-1133; and 1450 W. Old Mill Rd., Lake Forest, IL 60045, 847/234-5704, frankponterio.com.
Kitchen designer: Mick De Giulio, De Giulio Kitchen Design, 1121 Central Ave., Wilmette, IL 60091; 847/256-8833, degiulio.org.
Flowers: H. Bloom, 312/846-1194, hbloom.com.
Wall covering (“Grecian Squares”/Olympus Linen #5724): Phillip Jeffries, 800/576-5455, phillipjeffries.com.
Ceiling and trim paint (“Gentle Cream” #OC-96): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Sofa (“Marilyn Sofa”): Bradley Hughes, 312/624-9997, bradley-hughes.com.
Sofa fabric (“Polidoro”/Taupe #4234-92, by Manuel Canovas): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900, cowtan.com.
Throw pillow on sofa, left: Coraggio Textiles, 800/624-2420, coraggio.com.
Custom embroidery on pillow: Frank Ponterio Interior Design, 847/234-5704, frankponterio.com.
Pillow design: Mia Tavola, 773/404-4901, miatavola.com.
Throw pillow on sofa (“Lucrezia”/Brown, Gold #5668): Fortuny Fabrics, 212/753-7153.
Pillow trim (silk, #1106.03): Rogers & Goffigon, 302/532-8068.
Fabrication: Primo Interiors, 773/880-8042, primointeriors.com.
Coffee table (iron with inlaid shagreen top): for Avrett, 843/554-1409, avrett.com.
Lounge chairs (“Cee Chairs” #KJ2001, by Kerry Joyce): Dessin Fournir, 785/434-2777, dessinfournir.com.
Fabric on chair seat and back (“Royal Silk Mohair Velvet”/Llama #U13011): Coraggio Textiles, 800/624-2420, coraggio.com.
Leather on chair frame (“Sevilla”/Espana #6005-03, by Hunt Leather): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
Wood and steel side table, to left of sofa (“Roe Side Table,” by Case): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, hollyhunt.com.
Oval side table, to right of sofa (“Tristan Table”): Rose Tarlow-Melrose House, 323/651-2202, rosetarlow.com.
Sconces above sofa (“Salon Sconce”): Frank Ponterio for Avrett, 843/554-1409, avrett.com.
Table lamps (“Steve Jensen Oscar Lamp”): Michael-Cleary LLC, 312/464-0800, michaelclearyllc.com.
Art over sofa (by Hiro Yokose): Winston Wächter Fine Art, 212/255-2718, winston wachter.com, through Joana Burke Art Consultant, 310/305-1313, joannaburke.com.
Demilune cabinet, to left of sofa (“Aline Demilune” #304): Dessin Fournir, 785/434-2777, dessinfournir.com.
Art on demilune cabinet (by Jean Marc Louis); sculpture on demilune cabinet (Burning Bush #AD003-2): through Dessin Fournir, 785/434-2777, dessinfournir.com.
Drapery (“Beaumont Linen Sheer”/Champagne #65271): Schumacher, 800/523-1200, fschumacher.com.
Fabrication: Primo Interiors: 773/880-8042, primointeriors.com.
Rug (antique Tabriz #7364): J. Iloulian Rugs, 323/651-1444, jirugs.com.