As his home décor empire expands further into Chicago, furniture titan Art Van Elslander gets personal about his love of fashion, his commitment to giving back, and the Windy City spots where he feels at home and inspired.
Furniture icon Art Van Elslander, with the team from his first store in Detroit in 1959, credits his childhood job in a haberdashery for his sartorial and design sense.
“Dynamo” doesn’t begin to describe Art Van Elslander. An energetic 85, the founder of Detroit-based Art Van Furniture works out daily, follows fashion religiously, and scoffs at retirement (“Not in my blood,” he says). As the company opens its 10th and 11th Chicagoland stores, the on-the-move executive and father of 10 offers insights into his own personal brand.
Early days. Van Elslander worked in a Detroit haberdashery as a boy. “My dad said, ‘I don’t care what you pay him—just teach him how to sell.’”
Watch this. An avid collector of timepieces, Van Elslander is fond of Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and the Corum Admiral’s Cup. “I enjoy the craftsmanship. I select my watch each day to suit what I’m wearing.”
Chicago faves. “The Merchandise Mart. The fashion is fabulous, and the architecture is impressive. Gibsons and Spiaggia are at the top of [my restaurant] list.”
Reviving Flint. The company has shipped nearly 1.5 million bottles of water to assist with Flint, Michigan’s health crisis. “It takes all of us coming together to help those in need."
Fashion plate. “Stefano Ricci has an eye for design and detail that’s a cut above. Louis Vuitton is just one of the best. And Pamella Roland is one of my top picks for womenswear.”
Tennis royalty. “Roger Federer is my idol. He’s a [true] gentleman.” 2606 N. Elston Ave., 773-486-8719