On February 2, The Design Center at The Merchandise Mart will host its first-ever Chicago Interior Design Hall of Fame Awards Gala, where one of ten creative minds will be awarded the top honor. We caught up with nominee Tom Stringer to learn more about his qualifications for the title and his most impressive projects.
How would you describe your design aesthetic? TOM STRINGER: I have steadfastly tried to avoid having a signature look for which people come to me. What I find most interesting is working with clients to develop interiors that reflect their lifestyles, their tastes [and] their interests.
You have designed restaurants, commercial spaces and even yachts. How does designing a home differ from designing those sorts of spaces? TS: [Each space] requires a different set of disciplines: A yacht is a machine that is lived in, and a restaurant is a theater in which food is the main act. What motivates me is the challenge inherent in each project.
What has been your greatest accomplishment? TS: I can’t say that any one project is my biggest accomplishment; every project that I complete is hopefully my best yet. In terms of technical expertise, a 50-meter yacht that we launched a few years ago was probably the most challenging project I’ve ever done. On the other hand, working with Grant Achatz has been a fantastic experience. The guy is just simply brilliant, and it’s a real challenge to work for somebody that innovative.
What sparks most of your inspiration? TS: It may sound trite, but travel—getting out and seeing the world, whether it’s great cities in Europe or the natural world. I do a lot of diving and find incredible inspiration in the patterns and geometries found in nature.
How has the industry changed throughout your 20-year career as a designer? TS: Technology is one of the greatest tools we have right now, both in terms of visualizing work that’s yet to be built and also the printing and creation of fabrics and carpeting.