I often find myself referring back to the pages of a 2011 issue of Belle for inspiration and guidance.  The interior that has captured my attention many times over the past two years is actually the Chicago apartment of a good friend, Lew Wallack.  I’ve only been to Chicago once, many years ago – and before I knew Lew – on an overnight stopover between Madrid and Tucson, Arizona.  It was February, windy and cold and I didn’t see much of what seemed like a beautiful city, but one image that has stuck in my mind is that of the grand, prewar buildings that seem to line many of the city’s streets.  I imagine Lew’s small but perfectly formed apartment to be in one of these buildings.

What’s immediately apparent from this space is Lew’s love of the classical, for me the ultimate aesthetic.  So far I’ve only been able to indulge my own passion through books, a few engravings and a bronze study of Napoleon, so I look upon Lew’s beautifully edited collection of ancient Greek pottery and Chinese bronze and terracotta figures with nothing but admiration.  Not to mention his set of Robsjohn-Gibbings klismos chairs – I have coveted these chairs for years and am determined to own at least a pair before I go!  Robsjohn-Gibbings claimed that his 1930’s model of the klismos chair was to furniture what the Parthenon is to architecture, a good description.

Lew’s klismos chairs sit beautifully alongside other 19th and 20th Century finds, inside a white-walled interior that features 4m high ceilings, oak floors and dramatic architectural mouldings.  The artwork is predominantly photography.  Apart from the klismos chairs, I particularly love the Ingrid Donat coffee table in the living room, the large scale side table (I have to ask Lew about this piece!), as well as the ever-so-elegant Rogers & Goffigon-clad sofa.  In the bedroom there are the Mathieu bedside tables and the Henningsen wing chair (the favourite chair of my ex-boss, Jonathan Reed), the magnificent pair of onyx urns and the Chinese gold silk carpet.  I love the way Lew has created recessed shelving within the columns either side of the door to house part of his collection of Greek pottery; I love the sense of surprise in the regency gilt mirror hanging above the Ico Parisi cabinet, a much more sober piece.  It’s that sense of surprise, highly sophisticated, that sets Lew’s home apart from the rest, and draws me back over and over to that 2011 issue of Belle.