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Kara Mann's Minimalist Dream Apartment Inspired By Tom Ford

Vanessa Lawrence
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann

From ELLE Decor

A clean, minimal approach to design doesn’t have to result in austerity. Take for instance this modern, sprawling apartment Kara Mann created for a couple, Kitzia and Richard Goodman. Situated in a prestigious Chicago building in the Gold Coast historic district, the primary residence melds stark lines with textural richness from the marble, velvet, and even églomisé that Mann employed throughout the rooms.

The Goodmans were moving from a town home in the Lincoln Park area and as art patrons, they were keen on a gallery-like space with plenty of openness for entertaining. Mann, whose eponymous firm is based in Chicago, obliged, handling both the architecture of the gutted apartment and its decor. “Kitzia came to me with inspiration from Tom Ford," says Mann, who has also worked previously as a fashion stylist and therefore gravitated to her client’s Tom Ford cue. Mann says she referenced not only Ford's clothing, but also his dramatic Joseph Dirand-designed boutiques. “I always look to fashion when I’m thinking of design. It moves quicker than our industry and it forces me to think outside the box of interiors.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann


The master bathroom oozes glamour, thanks to the lilac marble floor, wall, and sink. “It’s very sophisticated,” Mann notes, “and it feels urban whereas Calacatta can feel softer.” The bathtub was custom carved in Italy (“I thought I was going to get murdered by the contractors when it showed up weighing I don’t know how much,” Mann says), the tables are by Christian Liaigre, the faucets are by Fantini, and the vintage bench is topped with lavender shearling. The artwork (of Mick Jagger) is by Andy Warhol.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann


Mann created a study of gray and white and texture in the master bedroom. The custom bed and bench by JM Upholstery are covered in Rosemary Hallgarten alpaca. The bed linens are by Frette, the throw is custom, and the bedside tables are in selenite. Mann created a tray ceiling for interest, which is crowned with a Paul Mathieu chandelier. “We wanted it to be just very, very simple, clean, and modern,” she says of the room. The artwork is by Yayoi Kusama and Ed Ruscha.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann


A locus point of nocturnal lounging and movie-watching, the family room has fur carpeting, a smoky purple-gray custom U-shaped velvet sofa by JM Upholstery, and a stunning custom bronze cocktail table by Based Upon in London. “It has a texture almost like shagreen,” notes Mann.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann


Mann enlisted the artist Steven Hettrich to create a polished Venetian plaster and waxed silver metallic finish on the ceiling above the dining table. Besides reflecting light beautifully, it helps differentiate the dining room as a separate entity in the open entertaining spaces (the dining room is bookended by two halves of the living room in an open plan). The custom chandelier is by Carlos De La Puente and the chairs are by Paul Mathieu.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann
Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann


A cocktail table by Fran Taubman and armchairs by Todd Merrill Studios anchor one side of the living room, which gets a pop of marigold color from a rug by Miyabi Casa. The other half of the living room has a white Desede sofa-“I love how it wraps around the column,” Mann notes-vintage collection Karl Springer side tables, a Pucci lounge chair, and a side table by Sam Orlando Miller. The floors-large-scale limestone tiles-are left bare. “It feels unexpected,” Mann says.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kara Mann


A multi-purpose space (though as Mann puts it, “ridiculously elevated”) perfect for entertaining, a bar area has a beautiful custom bar by Christophe Come. The marble is Nero Marquinia and the custom glass paneled doors are églomisé. The neon artwork in the entryway to the left is by Tracey Emin.

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