The elegance of Vista Tower extends far beyond its exterior glory. Once inside the tower, visitors and residents will see that the tower’s interior perfectly corresponds to its artistic exterior design. When tasked with dreaming up an interior floorplan for a home at Vista Tower, Suzanne Lovell, the interior architect who crafted the perfect floorplan, and designers Summer Thornton and Emily Mackie turned to possible Vista inhabitants for inspiration. Each designer created inspirational spaces for residents with distinct lifestyles and interests. Read on for more on the inspiration behind the floorplans of all three designers.
The following excerpt is from an article originally published in No Parallels: Issue IV.
Title: Penthouse Perfection
Written By: Heidi Mitchell
From the building’s bones to the finishing touches, no aspect of Vista penthouses went overlooked. Here, interior architect Suzanne Lovell talks crafting the perfect floorplan, while designers Summer Thornton and Emily Mackie imagine two drastically different dream homes.
Founder of her own Chicago-based firm, Suzanne Lovell is a trained architect, with deep knowledge of design and materials as well as furniture, antiques and art. She crafts architectural interiors, creating completely bespoke habitats for her clients. She’s tackled high-profile projects from 5th Avenue manses to a billionaire’s mega-yacht and everything in between. After conquering the land and the sea, Lovell is taking her talents to the sky, creating the luxe environs for owners of Vista Tower penthouses.
When she was tasked with creating the standard penthouse floorplan for the upcoming tower, Lovell took into account all the unique details of the space — the 360-degree views, Jeanne Gang’s undulating exterior and the luxury clientele lifestyle — to optimize livability. “We considered how to create the best experience of the view while also quieting the visual noise to create a calm, comfortable environment,” she says.
To complement the bones of the penthouses, Lovell crafted an interior design scheme that Vista penthouse residents can elect to use. Natural lambswool, silk velvets and a fusion of furniture and art are core themes of Lovell’s vision. She mixes couture embroidery by Parisian master Maison Lesage (a member of Chanel’s Métiers d’Art) on sculptural furniture by the famed artist/creator Sebastian Brajkovic for a seamless fusion of art, interior and architecture.
But the best part about Lovell’s floorplan is that it’s a canvas for each Vista resident to create their own masterpiece. We asked two other notable Chicago designers, Summer Thornton and Emily Mackie, to take a cue from Lovell’s framework and imagine how they would customize a dream penthouse unit for two very different Vista residents: A family of four and a bachelor with a penchant for entertaining.
Designer: Summer Thornton
Owner Profile: Family of four
Summer Thornton, owner of her eponymous firm, aimed to build a “forever home” for a family of four, a place that would grow alongside them. “We wanted a lively space for a family that’s chic beyond words, the setting for amazing parties and a great place to raise a kids,” she says.
One of the most exciting features of the loft is the entry, where the owners make a splashy first impression with an elevator gallery decked out in marble patterns that mix modern and classic. Inspiration for that detail was found in artist Cy Twombly’s Italian home, and contrasts with the typical wood casings seen…everywhere. Thornton also created a lightbox of steel and glass that draws visitors into the hallway and the rest of the home.
A formal living room with curved Italian sofas stands off a less formal family room and a kitchen best described as functional, but with super-glam, Regency Russia-inspired accents and a serious chandelier. “I always think you’re better off investing in antique hanging fixtures when you have kids rather than putting your money into a sofa where they may be eating,” Thornton explains.
If the public side of the home says “come hither,” the residential side offers a private haven. Along with three bedrooms, the apartment pays due respect to the parents with a master suite that takes up a full quarter of the home and sits as far as possible from the commotion of the gathering spaces. Thornton envisions pale-pink Italian plaster walls that contrast with sharp lines and hints of black marble for a feminine touch. “Jeanne Gang’s architecture is less masculine than many of her peers, and we wanted to play that up,” says Thornton.
Upstairs, you’ll find a spectacular den and library. Thornton sees the second level as a family interpretation of a club, with a pool table, a full bathroom and a gym/recreation space. Parties might start in the formal living room, then migrate up the glamorous terrazzo stairway to the glass-enclosed game floor.
Many Chicago families might not consider living in a high-rise, but with Thornton’s design and Vista’s array of amenities, proximity to schools and vibrant Lakeshore East community, this dream home offers every convenience a family desires.
The Talented Dr. JD.
Designer: Emily Mackie
Owner Profile: Bachelor who entertains
For Vista Tower’s Visionary Sky Home, Emily Mackie, was tasked with creating a home for a bachelor who loved to entertain. She took it to a whole new level, delving into the fictitious character’s backstory and psyche, defining his career and even his alma mater. This imaginary man, whom she called Dr. JD, is American-born, single, 40, went to Yale and invented a new futuristic procedure for brain surgery. His home reflects a person who appreciates business as much as he indulges in pleasure, which is why this apartment has a separate entrance for a board room and a whole mezzanine level dedicated to fun.
The main entrance offers a respite from the urban jungle, though it replaces it with a literal one: A live terrarium brings a botanical element indoors. From there, the good doctor can turn right to enter the public boardroom or left to access the more private areas: a living room, a kitchen and cozy family room. The master suite is tucked around a corner to create a quiet, distant, personal space that’s not easily accessible by guests.
The entertainment floor is the crown jewel of this penthouse duplex. To get there, Mackie built a floating staircase with a koi pond at its base. Upstairs, she filled the floor with high-tech amusements like a virtual reality theater and DJ booth. As an icing on the cake, Mackie ups the ante on the standard home theater by re-creating a drive-in movie experience complete with the shell of a vintage car (she envisions either a Bentley or Aston Martin).
She sees the building as an extension of this bachelor’s home, an iconic development that raises the bar for Chicago’s elite. Or as Mackie puts it, “The Vista Tower elevates expectations of a luxury condominium —and others will follow suit.”