Matthew Rachman Gallery is excited to introduce a new blog feature, called “Spotlight On.” Each month we will highlight a local area designer that we recognize for their exceptional talent, and give them the spotlight.
For our first “Spotlight On” feature, we chat with Rebel House Owner and Creative Director, Marli Jones, to discuss her early influences and current inspiration, behind her fresh, contemporary looks.
Rebel House Interior Design is a Chicago-based firm that is quickly gaining attention for its unique talent for bringing art-centric, west coast vibes to the second city.
Specializing in “couture environments,” this boutique design house specializes in quality service - managing all details of each new construction or renovation project from concept through completion. The selective nature by which they accept their clients also allows them to ensure that each client gets the proper attention they deserve.
Before founding Rebel House in 2016, Owner and Creative Director Marli Jones started her career in the design forward city of San Francisco, where she received a master’s degree in Interior Architecture and Design with an emphasis in adaptive reuse.
Jones worked as a senior designer for prominent West Coast residential design firm Martha Angus LLC, before moving to Chicago, IL to be the senior designer for real estate development group AJ Capital Partners (AJCP). As such, she was part of a creative team that developed, designed, branded, and launched a collection of boutique hotels across the United States. While at AJCP, Marli also worked on the redesign of the rooftop bar J. Parker at Hotel Lincoln in Chicago and was the senior designer on the gut renovation of historic hotel Pontchartrain in downtown New Orleans.
Marli grew up in the art worlds of Chicago and Europe, and her parents are Atelier Neo-Medici trained photorealist painters. Her travels include multiple trips to France, Switzerland, and Italy to study fine art and architecture. Her exposure from a young age to a variety of well-crafted interiors sparked a passion for design.
MRG: Do you recall when you first realized you wanted to be an interior designer?
MJ: My parents are professional artists and my childhood memories are filled with travels across Europe and the US from galleries to museums. An artistic profession was always in the cards, but as a design-obsessed kid, becoming a designer was my small rebellion. I took to my driveway drawing large-scale floor plans in sidewalk chalk. Around age eight, I started rearranging my bedroom furniture each week, pulling pieces into different combinations. A visit to the Lake Forest showhouse taught me creating an interior is not only art, but a profession. My mom started giving me shelter magazines to study. I was fascinated to say the least. I filled countless pads of graph paper with home designs for family and friends. To this day, nothing brings me greater joy than working with my team to craft a custom environment.
MRG: If you had to be trapped in one decade of design, which would you chose and why?
MJ: Is it cheating to say right now? There are many exciting developments happening in design as we enter the latter half of this decade. We are moving away from the “fast fashion” influence of the early 2000s. Antiques are back in favor and artisans are in the spotlight for mastering their craft. Designing with a mix of old and new is quite fabulous. I am so excited to see galleries and makers unite. Right now, furniture is art!
MRG: From where do you draw your inspiration?
MJ: My source of inspiration depends on the project. I am constantly digesting past and present design. A lot of my work is influenced by the years I spent living and working as a designer in San Francisco. West coast design sensibility focuses on pops of color and layering details and I have carried these characteristics into my work. I maintain close relationships with designers whom I’ve worked for and/or with over the years. We learn a lot from each other. This business is about pulling influences, knowledge, and the unexpected together to craft something new.
MRG: How do you choose artwork for your projects?
MJ: The experience of growing up around artists taught me choosing artwork is a personal process. There is no right or wrong answer and acquiring art can take time. I talk with clients about their goals for collecting works, introduce them to artists, and guide them as they consider their investment. Once acquired, art can travel from room to room on rotation (as it does in my home) and a vibrant collection can be made from a mix of budding artist works, to prints, to blue chip pieces.
MRG: As a designer who frequents Matthew Rachman Gallery, is there a piece of furniture in our showroom that you’re really into right now? What do you love most about it, and can you give us some pointers on how you might style it?
MJ: I have a major thing for sculptural furniture and your gallery does such a great job curating pieces to fit that bill. The Domus Lux Lounge Chair by Ilmari Tapiovaara is my current obsession. The warm wood tone, curved back, and petite arms are divine. It is a unique find – and quite comfortable!
As for styling, I’d juxtapose the wood chair with a contemporary chrome side table (as pictured). The warm wood and cool chrome offer a nice material tension.
Add a finishing touch with a piece of art hanging behind the two – perfection.
Check out more pictures of Marli’s stunning projects and learn more about what the team at Rebel House Interior Design is up to, at www.rebelhousedesign.com, or follow them on Instagram at @rebelhousedesign.