We’re back with new guest tastemakers for some quick-fire questions and a mini-curation of some fab Chairish finds!
This week, we got the chance to catch up with Marli Jones and Michael Kreuser, the husband and wife team behind Rebel House LLC. This Chicago-based firm’s design ethos marries architecture and interior design, carving out strong architectural foundations to be filled with furnishings that break the boundaries of design. During the pandemic, they have turned their focus to creating vacation properties that give their clients much-needed “safe places,” and reworking how homes function post-March 2020.
Read on to find out what – or should I say who – has brought them joy during quarantine, and what architectural marvels have stood out to them the most in their travels.
What sparked your interest in design?
Marli: Growing up in the quaint, historic town of Lake Forest, IL, I was surrounded by significant architecture and interiors, with some homes that dating back to the late 1800s. As a kid, I would collect details I loved and integrate them into countless notebooks of different floor plan designs. To say I was/am obsessed with architecture and design is an understatement. I think I made my mom take me to countless showhouses and drive around to look at architecture.
Michael: I am more of a late-comer than Marli. I joined the business right when Rebel House took off, but I have grown to love the concert of details which make up design. A few small elements out of place can make for an entirely different aesthetic than intended – so I have become completely enraptured by how meticulous and knowledgeable we have to be to execute a creative vision.
What advice would you give to someone who has never collected art before, and is hoping to incorporate dynamic pieces into their space?
Marli: Most people are afraid they don’t have the right knowledge, or that they don’t know where to start with their budget. But art is personal. What you are attracted to and what you want to invest in is subjective. What I do think matters is get the scale right. Undersized art is en-vogue right now, but it has to be done intentionally and in the right space. If your giant wall needs a giant piece of art, you need to go big! Color is important too. If you have an interior furnished in monochromatic tones, some bright hues in your artwork goes a long way. Conversely, some of my favorite rooms have really punchy colors and patterns on the furniture and very minimal pieces of art. It really is all about knowing the rules so you can break them strategically.
What’s helping you get through quarantine? What are you excited to do once it ends?
Marli: Michael and I have a 19 month old son named Loren, who has been the best thing added to our lives. I am grateful every day for the time we’ve gotten together via quarantine (Although I don’t want to minimize how hard it’s been – parenting during a pandemic is no joke. ) I work a lot and previously was traveling and on the road quite a bit, so it’s been nice to be home more, getting to see Loren becoming a person. Once this all ends, I’d love to take him out and about to experience museums and the culture our world has to offer. Seeing him experience the world for the first time is truly exceptional and something we’ve had to limit. He’s barely been to a grocery store because he’s been too young to be masked. I honestly look forward to the mundane things like taking him to a toy store and then graduating up to taking him to museums and on an airplane.
Michael: During COVID, we moved our office closer to home – from a more industrial studio space in the city of Chicago to a grand street level space in the north shore. Quarantine has provided us with the time needed to build it out right and it’s been a great distraction and investment in exercising creative ideas. We are excited to host events and invite the community into our firm’s new home when possible again.
What kind of design additions or changes have you made to your home since quarantine began?
Marli: A year before the pandemic hit, we bought a 1924 Tudor house in the suburbs, and have been fixing it up. We took a break at the beginning of 2020 because we had a tiny baby at home. Then the start of the pandemic put everything on hold – with Rebel House being so busy with projects – that we didn’t have time to live through more construction ourselves. What quarantine has done though, is provide me a lot of time to dream up phase II for our house now that we are finally diving back in to add more detail to the interior.
What is the most impressive or inspiring piece of art or architecture you’ve come across in your travels?
Marli: As a whole, my two favorite city experiences outside of the US are Paris and Marrakech. Both have such rich history and you feel the significance and flavor of each city through their architecture. Each take pride in their aesthetic and it is palpable. In Paris, the Louvre itself is an overload of incredible thought and design. I miss the feeling of grandeur walking along the Seine River, where even the pavers are thoughtful and every detail is considered. I also think walled cities are fascinating – like Marrakech, a city carved out of corridors. It’s at times almost claustrophobic as you travel into these tiny, intimate spaces. And then all you need to do is turn a corner or duck into a doorway and space opens up into a courtyard or into a 2-story Riad clad in handmade tile.
Michael: Similar to Marli, it is difficult for my mind not to hop a trans-atlantic flight directly to Paris for this question – Musee de L’Orangerie is a favorite for immersive art experiences. When I think of architecture, spending most of my youth living abroad exposed me to a myriad of amazing structures, but Himeji Castle stands out. Japanese economy is evident in the design to create a stunning aesthetic without compromising the necessary function of the fortress…The same can’t always be said for Western castles.