Interior Design
Environmental Graphic Design
Workplace Strategy
Building Repositioning


13 Nov

Eye on Design: Chicago with Diana Nankin

Diana Nankin: FENNIE+MEHL works in great cities all over the country. During the project for global engineering firm TYLin, I had the joy of spending time in Chicago, where it’s easy to be inspired by design. Here are some of my favorite spots.



Whitney Architects
123 N Upper Wacker Drive
When we work outside of California, we must have a local Architect of Record (AOR) to guarantee we adhere to local building codes. The Whitney team was our trusted partner on this build in Chicago, our literal eyes and ears on the ground day to day. They made sure every detail of our design was realized perfectly.


Willis Tower
233 S Wacker Drive
The 108-floor Willis Tower is one of the best examples of next-level spaces for a Class-A office building I’ve seen. Instead of excluding the public, Willis invites everyone into its first five floors of retail, dining, and entertainment options and a 70,000 sf event space. There’s a bird-eye view from the 103rd-floor Skydeck platform (this is the highest building in Chicago, after all) with its knee-buckling all-glass balcony. When I need to find some quiet nature in downtown, I also head to the 30,000 sf outdoor terrace with its paved walkways, gardens and even yoga classes. To me the Willis Tower feels more like a 5-star hotel, with high volumes, lush greenery, and furnishings that invite you to linger for some alone time, to connect with friends, or have a casual meeting. It’s Chicago design on full display.


Trivoli Tavern
114 N Green Street
On a blustery Chicago night two days before Christmas, we stumbled upon Trivoli Tavern. Tucked away in an alley off Green Street and lit by market lights, we stepped back in time into a warm, festive, and truly cozy environment. Picture tufted leather booths, cocktail shakers filled with Manhattans, and Frank Sinatra. The deep, warm finish palette softened with lush plants and cool wall art create an intimate mood perfect for cocktail sipping, but the there’s also an energetic buzz that makes you feel like you’re in the place to be. And then there’s the food – the delicious Italian and American classics are to die for and the fresh baked buttery Parker House rolls should not be missed.


Jayson Home
1885 N Clybourn Avenue
I never miss a chance to wander through Jayson Home, and neither should you. Retail merchandizing is rarely done quite like this. For starters, this former factory space is spectacularly lit by skylights running the length of the store. Displayed in this welcoming environment is a constant turnover of modern and vintage, often one-of-a-kind but always classic furniture and home goods. Above and beyond their careful curation from artisans around the world, the brand also offers custom pieces. It feels like you’re in the home of someone fantastic. Don’t miss the inspired arrangements in the flower shop and the outdoor garden center!


Locations vary every year
The magic of a European Christmas market is one of those things everyone should experience at least once. If you’re like me, you’ve wondered why they aren’t a thing here in the states. This year, instead of buying a plane ticket to Europe just go to, Chicago! Just like an authentic European village, the Christkindlmarket takes over a town square, but I love how it is juxtaposed against the towering, modern high-rises in the middle of downtown Chicago. Be sure to warm up with some Glühwein while shopping for what’s sure to be the most stolen gift at your next White Elephant exchange. This year the market is in Daley Plaza, 50 W Washington Street from November 17 to December 24.