What We Know

Kaufman Segal Design

Since starting our firm in 1996, we've witnessed firsthand a great sea change in the design industry. Residential and commercial clients have gained greater access to quality resources. They often don't need a design professional to gain entry to once-only trade showrooms. They're also regularly bombarded by possibilities from top furnishings stores, architectural and design magazine pages, Internet sites and even HGTV television shows.

Yet, we know an important secret. Demand for our services has never been stronger--or probably smarter. Picking the right styles, sizes, shapes, materials and textures for furnishings, cabinetry and credenzas, carpeting, marble and granite, lighting, artworks and more, and pulling everything together in a cohesive, functional, attractive whole, can be downright confusing with so many choices available. Add into this dilemma the desire to avoid costly mistakes, and hiring a professional from the start makes great financial sense. We also help them invest in the best furnishings and workmanship to achieve long-lasting value, so they don't have to repurchase items down the road. Our practice continually evolves to reflect current economic times. And yet, we believe consumers--both homeowners and business decision makers—will continue to seek quality as well as choices that reflect their individual budgets.

To meet these demands, we've developed solutions that we believe set us apart among our peers and help clients in our native Chicago backyard or around the globe. We know how to wade through the increasing number of furnishings and accessory selections and make critical decisions. We decide, for instance, when a custom-made sofa, intricately crafted cabinet, or hand-scraped wood floor makes sense versus something more readily available, based on each client's unique design parameters and budget. We understand the very different needs of a residential client and a commercial setting, and tailor all design and material selections to reflect the purpose and use for each space and function.

In either case, we know how to pull together all the parts to fashion a whole that reflects our trademark style of timeless, classic elegance to look like it evolved effortlessly. Yet, the goal is to showcase a distinct personal preference of our client, unique to their taste, Study our rooms, and they're far more than what's usually expected—a traditional living room might have a few iconic Fifties Moderne furnishings from the masters of that era but also a twist of punchy color and great antique lamps, or it might veer off more toward the eclectic with an antique rug with old-world deep, rich hues, American or African folk art and a contemporary wallpaper. A law firm might reveal a contemporary slant that connotes something about its practice—perhaps, photographs or paintings since it represents several major art galleries or museums, or prints with an entertainment slant because it handles work for a number of actors, actresses, directors or studios.

Rooms aren't merely pleasant vignettes to look at and oooh and aaah over, however. We're as keenly interested in selecting pieces for comfort and function. A sofa isn't just about its period look and fabric—the outer stuff. Its length, height, number of cushions, springs and filling all matter greatly. Key questions we always ask are: How good will a client feel sitting in it? Is it too shallow in depth or not high enough in its back? Do its cushions offer comfort and spring back? Are its arms inviting as a resting spot for long, lingering visits or a cozy read or for sitting and discussing serious business matters? "Each room and its pieces should be beautiful but if it doesn't work for how those live, entertain or work there, none of the choices are right," says Tom.

To find the best selections always reflects our approach of laboriously culling merchandise and materials from a wide variety of showrooms, galleries, stores, the Internet and craftspeople who range from furniture makers to millworkers, painters, cabinetmakers, wallpaper hangers, and more.

And when everything's selected, we carefully arrange pieces in rooms that are designed to function well on their own, but also flow seamlessly into adjoining spaces, whether another living space or office or hallway. David says, "Working with a design professional can become more liberating, stylish and cost effective than going at this endeavor alone."

Kaufman Segal Design currently has active projects in Aspen, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.