With over 30 years of experience running his own firm, Todd M. Haley has become a fixture on the Chicago design scene. After working in visual merchandising for brands like Neiman-Marcus, he transitioned into designing model furniture rooms and store windows, where his love of interior design came to the fore. Today, his firm creates spaces for clients across the city and country.
What made you passionate about interior design?
I was fortunate enough that my mother was an arts major and encouraged my creative endeavors from an early age. From there, I pored over every magazine and book that I could get my hands on. Currently, my library of design and art books numbers more than 700, which I constantly refer to and draw inspiration from.
How did you get your start in the field?
While in college, I worked in visual merchandising, designing model rooms and store windows which taught me scale, the use of color, pattern and materials, the importance of sight lines, and composition. In 1988, I moved to Chicago and worked for some of the top interior design and architecture firms, where I honed my skills in the art of interior design before opening my firm in 1992.
What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
Chairish offers an unprecedented selection of items from every genre and provenance, which allows me to source for multiple projects at any given time from all over the globe.
How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage?
Sustainability is a driving factor for many of the items that I specify, including fabrics. Vintage pieces give a sense of depth and history to a space.
What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?
Some of my favorites include this pair of Adrian Pearsall button-tufted “Gondola” chairs; this “Orange Colors” painting; and this vintage Brutalist Dutch vase.
Favorite way to create a statement making moment in a room:
I tend to design a space so that there is a series of moments rather than one focal point. When clients want to make a statement in a room, I introduce large-scale artwork, sculpture, antiques, or vintage pieces. My design philosophy is that a space should be the sum of all parts.
Do you have any go-to color palettes and color combos?
My color palettes tend to be monochromatic with an emphasis on texture. This allows me to use almost any color while delivering a neutral backdrop for art and the furnishings. I rarely use patterned fabrics in a space and when I do, I introduce them in small doses. The colors that I most often use tend to be muted shades that are drawn from nature and art. Lately, I have been using shades of gray, brown, lilac, green and puce.
What advice do you have for first-time clients about making their spaces truly personal?
I encourage clients to educate their eye and to start collecting things that resonate with them, especially from their travels. And of course, any family heirlooms that they have acquired.
Lead image: Design: Todd M. Haley. Photo: Alan Shortall.