Founder and Designer, Donna Mondi Interior Design
Sophisticated, edgy and unexpected are some of the defining characteristics of the spaces in Donna Mondi‘s design portfolio. Her eponymous firm has tackled projects in penthouses overlooking her hometown of Chicago and trekked to the suburbs for sprawling family homes. But no matter the setting, each home’s design boasts unique textures and prints, thoughtful layering and a mix of styles and eras. “Being able to access the vendors at The Mart and the River North neighborhood makes being a designer in Chicago easier than other areas,” Mondi reflects. “Plus, the city is full of art galleries, museums and antiques markets–the inspiration you can find here is endless.” When it comes to shopping, this early riser (she’s usually out of bed before 5:30 a.m.) certainly gets the worm–and it takes only a peek at her eclectic designs to know her insider advice is one to heed. Here is Mondi’s favorite way to spend a day in the Windy City.
9 a.m. Head to Nico Osteria on the Gold Coast for breakfast. I call the restaurant my kitchen, because my actual kitchen is basically a prop. Order the kale-and-sweet-potato hash with an over-easy egg on top; it’s healthy and delicious.
10 a.m. Begin your shopping on Oak Street. All my fashion friends are here–Jimmy Choo, Tom Ford, Carolina Herrera–but if you haven’t visited the home section at Barneys, you are missing out. You’ll find Fornasetti candles, rabbit-fur pillows and every coffee table book you can imagine. Afterward, visit 900 North Michigan Shops–especially Space519–for amazing accessories and gifts.
12 p.m. It’s time for lunch at RL Restaurant, a classic Chicago spot. The iconic decor, entertaining people-watching and delicious crab cakes always bring me back for more. My drink here is champagne and St-Germain.
1 p.m. Stop by The Mart and check out the Jean de Merry showroom, which steals my heart every time I visit. The brand carries the lines of unique designers from across the globe, including Jean-Louis Deniot, one of my favorite icons.
2 p.m. Pop into O’Brien Harris on North Wells Street; the owner, Peter Harris, is the best when it comes to cabinet design, and his English accent makes everything sound delicious. Then, take a look at Oscar Isberian Rugs on Kinzie Street. Hide, shearling, alpaca rugs–this store has it all, and just seeing the large inventory can provide instant gratification.
4 p.m. Explore the Windy City’s vintage shops. Start at the Chicago Antique Market, where I’ve scored an iron skull, native African masks on stands and a 1920s Art Deco bronze of a sexy dancer. Then take a drive outside the city to the Broadway Antique Market–there, I bought two Egyptian brass statues of sphinx-like ladies–and the Edgewater Antique Mall, where I took home a ’50s gold wheat sheaf Coco Chanel-style cocktail table.
7 p.m. Snag a cozy booth in the speakeasy-style basement of Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf, the perfect dinner spot. The filets here can’t be beat, and the sweet potatoes are enormous.