Blake & Richard: A Dual Practice in Therapy and Design

Blake & Richard: A Dual Practice in Therapy and Design

Heather Blaha
Jul 16, 2012


Names: Blake Hamilton & Richard Olson, business partners
Location: Lakeview neighborhood, Chicago
Size: 195 square feet (Blake's office), 150 square feet (Richard's office)

Blake and Richard run a psychotherapy practice with adjacent offices. Originally from New York, they've called these Chicago offices their own for the last 10 years, yet much of what you'll find inside (furniture, artwork, books) hails from their time on the east coast...

Like any good office, but particularly one used for therapy, these design enthusiasts were committed to creating environments that offered visitors both functionality and warmth. The woods, textures, classic design and items of intrigue offer much for those with curiosity, classic, and eclectic tastes (a giant book about the circus in one office, a perfectly tufted Herman Miller sofa in the other, and abstract artwork in both). Here's what the therapists say:

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We wanted to create an office space that was comfortable for our clients and ourselves, almost like sitting in a relaxing home near a practical desk. Our tastes are eclectic, but we appear to be drawn towards mid-century with some items dating a little earlier. We also like to bring in elements of the earth -- items in earth tones, plants, zebra clam shells (in a display plastic box), painted gourds, a lucite fish sculpture, a wood carved African fertility doll, and an old globe. We also have paintings (mostly abstracts) by friends and some clients.

The building was originally built around 1900 and functioned as a flour processing plant before being converted into offices sometime during the mid-century. The ceilings are at least 16 feet high. We started our practice in New York City, so many of the chairs and lamps are from stores there as well as some of the art. Our offices are full of books we love, fitting for a psychotherapy practice. We are interested in designs that combine functionality and warmth, bringing together the aesthetic of an urban environment with natural earth elements.

Inspiration: Blake: Early trips to flea markets with parents, old movies in technicolor
RIchard: Early childhood/adolescence in New York

Favorite Element: Blake: Early 20th century filing cabinet, 1940s Picasso lamp, Eames chair
Richard: Herman Miller contemporary couch, Paul McCobb desk and coffee table

Biggest Challenge: Blake: getting all the colors to work together, and making different styles work; locating appropriate art that is not too provocative or aggressive for clients.
Richard: accessorizing

What Friends Say: Blake: "Wow you have eclectic taste, love the way you put things together." "What possibility possessed you to put that out?"
Richard: people comment favorably and compliment my taste

Biggest Embarrassment: none!

Proudest DIY: Blake: photographs using a macro lens
Richard: My office is DIY free.

Biggest Indulgence: Blake: Art
Richard: Books

Best Advice: Blake: Don't try to make things too perfect. Create a space that looks lived in and makes you think.
Richard: Maintain equal parts warmth and functionality.

Dream Source: Blake: Different antique and mid-century stores from NY (LES, Brooklyn) to Chicago (stores include Salvage One, BAM, Edgewater Antiques, Architectural Artifacts)
Richard: Used furniture from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the West Loop of Chicago


Hardware: Blake - Mac
RIchard - PC

Office furniture:
• antique stores
• Room & Board
• Modernica in New York

• antique stores
• West Elm
• stores around the world

• antique lamps
• basic desk/task lamps

Organizing Tools/Accessories:
• old file cabinets
• shopping boxes

Thanks, Blake & Richard!

Images: Heather Blaha

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