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 a chance to catch up with the Principals behind Studio Gild: Melissa Benham, Jennie Bishop, and Kristen Ekeland. This concept-driven trio’s approach to design is represented right in the meaning of their firm’s name: The thoughtful details and distinctive elements that they insert into every project represent the trademark metaphorical “gilding” of their work.
Read on to find out how the design process works among three Principals, and which show-stopping element their upcoming projects all have in common.
How did the three of you meet, and what made you realize that you’d make such a dynamic trio?
Kristen: We initially met as co-workers at a Chicago interior design firm in 2006. After some time, we went our separate ways, but re-grouped in 2013. And a year later Studio Gild was born.
Melissa: Looking back on how well we collaborated with one another, it only made sense that we would embark on building this together. It was an easy fit that felt natural from both a design and business perspective.
What is your collaboration/decision-making process like? Do you each specialize in a certain aspect of the design process or are most decisions made together?
Kristen: We each have our own projects, but on occasion, there might be two Principals consulting together. Just recently Melissa and I collectively designed a hospitality project, which was especially fun.
Melissa: While there’s typically one Principal working with a client, we don’t want people to look at a design and say, “Oh that’s Jennie’s work,” or “Kristen must have done that.” We strive for every project to be so uniquely its own, that an outsider wouldn’t be able to put their finger on the Principal who was behind it.
Jennie: But there is the common thread of our shared design approach, which invites people to recognize that “Studio Gild did this.”
What is the coolest vintage piece in your house?
Kristen: My Art Deco oak table base, which is very simple and understated with circular openings on each side. The stone was damaged when I bought it, so I sourced a new marble top that I added a coin-edge detail to. (I was inspired by Stephen Gambrel’s kitchen countertop. It sits by my living room bay window,and ended up becoming my desk during all the months of quarantine when I was stuck working at home. Prettiest desk I’ve ever had!
Do you collect anything?
Kristen: Vintage ceramic vessels. I love making floral arrangements, especially in the summer when my local farmer’s market has so many fresh-cut options to choose from. They act as sculptures even if I don’t have floral in them, and I can freshen up a dining table or console by swapping them depending on the season or my mood.
Are there any upcoming projects you are excited about?
This year seems to be about homes with a view: We’re just completing a gut renovation of a client’s single-family home with stunning views of the Austin Texas skyline – which we can’t wait to photograph. We also have Santa Barbara residence in the works that has sweeping views of the city and ocean beyond, and two new construction homes on the edge of Lake Michigan.