Inspiring Interiors | Designing in Step - Design Bureau

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Adelfang’s childhood summers in Sweden influenced the sleek, Scandinavian aesthetics of this new construction project in Lake Forest, Illinois.

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The mid-century look at Adelfang’s rehab in Glencoe, Illinois, incorporates pops of color, contemporary art, and the owner’s guitar collection.

Inspiring Interiors | Designing in Step

Monday, June 24th, 2013

By Aryn Beitz
Photos by Janet Mesic Mackie

Suburban Chicago designer Petra Adelfang taps into her former life—as an acclaimed principal dancer with Ballet Chicago and Chicago City Ballet—when approaching new projects. “My background as a dancer has probably attributed to my meticulous observation of objects and space and has influenced the way I think about how we move through space in our lives,” says Adelfang. “As a dancer, I was always trying to achieve the purest form of line and movement—it was a constant analytical process of observation.”

But dance isn’t her only influence. Adelfang, born in New York City and raised by a Swedish mother and American father, spent summers in Gotland, Sweden, during her formative years. “Spending so much time in Sweden growing up has influenced me tremendously,” Adelfang says. “The appreciation of natural materials, the care that is taken in each piece of furniture, and the way a room is put together so that, as beautiful and pleasing to the eye as something may be, it is always a function of living.” During her many walks through the town of Visby on Gotland island as a teenager, the designer became mesmerized by how the medieval town melded so seamlessly with the new. “There is an appreciation and respect for the past, but it never interferes with being able to create new and fresh ideas of building and moving forward,” Adelfang says.

The influence is apparent in two of Adelfang’s projects—the clean, mid-century look that melds seamlessly with pops of color, contemporary art, and even a prominently displayed guitar collection in a gut rehab of a home in Glencoe, and in the sleek, Scandinavian aesthetics of a new construction project in Lake Forest.

Adelfang’s portfolio ranges from urban remodels to new construction large-acre estate homes, but whatever the project, the designer is constantly working to achieve clarity and simplicity in form of all of her work— just as she did as a dancer.

“Whereas with a gut rehab you have parameters that are already set and you work from the inside out, new construction is more of a creative process of collaboration between the client, architect, builders, and the various sub-contractors involved,“ says Adelfang.

“You could use the analogy of gut rehab versus new construction to learning a role in an existing piece of choreography versus working with a choreographer in creating a new piece of choreography—both are inspiring in different ways.”

Regardless of the project scope, Adelfang’s focus remains the same—to analyze the interior workings and functions and to clarify the form of the spaces and materials. “Being able to juggle all the inevitable aspects that come with and are inherent to construction and remodeling, without sacrificing the goal of harmony and the task set forward by the client, is the ultimate goal as a designer,” says Adelfang. “Like dancing, design is a constant and fluid process.”

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