Studio Gild is a Chicago-based interior design firm co-founded by Melissa Benham, Jennie Bishop, and Kristen Ekeland. Gilding each project with a fine layer of thoughtful detail is their trademark, and they are dedicated to creating environments that are curated, provocative, and timeless.
What inspired this career path for you?
[Jennie Bishop] I wanted to design homes ever since I could remember, but I didn’t really know it was a career or how to articulate that I liked changing spaces. There wasn’t much exposure in the ’80s in Decatur, Illinois! I rearranged my childhood room constantly. I loved to clean out the garage, take all the furniture from the family room, and redecorate the garage as a new apartment for myself and my younger sister. It wasn’t until 1999 on the M31 bus in Manhattan that I found myself reading Met Home over someone’s shoulder, and I knew I had to change careers.
What is your go-to source for inspiration?
[Studio Gild] We love Pinterest, Instagram, national and global magazines, and blogs. Traveling as much as we can for work and for play keeps us energized and up to date on new hotels, products, and artists. Maison et Objet, Milan’s Salone del Mobile, Art Basel Miami, Chicago’s Art Expo… all keep us on our toes. And L.A.’s Legends in May will be our first visit, which we are highly anticipating! And we get to experience the colors, combinations, and food from all of the places we visit. It’s good for the soul.
Tell us about your creative process.
[Jennie Bishop] My process with design is to dive headfirst and tackle the issue with my gut. Then I review my work, freak out, hate it, doubt it, most likely cry because I know it will bomb, and then sleep on it for a few days. Eventually, I pull myself up and realize that what I’ve created is really good. I’m learning to see the stability in my creative emotional rollercoaster. My credo is to ask questions later and take the risk. And then thank the people in your life who allow your riskiness to be your reality.
Describe your style in 6 words or less.
[Studio Gild] Curated, timeless, provocative.
What’s a staple in your tool kit?
[Studio Gild] Literally in our tool kits: Sharpies! They are unbeatable. A laser measure. Recently, we added an Amenitee 15-in-1 stainless multi-tool. We are ready for anything!
Who do you look up to in the design world?
[Studio Gild] Ilse Crawford for her color combos, Dorothée Meilichzon for the shapes, Joseph Dirand for every material he uses and ridiculous cool French vibes, dimorestudio for their guts, Patricia Urquiola for everything! We could go on and on and on…
If you could design a space for anyone, what kind of space and for whom would it be?
[Studio Gild] It would be a dream to design a Parisian flat for a contemporary art collector. Classic bones and historically rich architecture would provide the perfect backdrop for an effortlessly chic setting. Striking unexpected contrast by showcasing graphic works filled with exuberant color and whimsy would be the icing on an already perfect cake.
Tell us your favorite design-related word, phrase, or quote.
[STUDIO GILD] “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” —Henry Ford
“What’s money? A[wo]man is a success if [s]he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what [s]he wants to do.” —Bob Dylan
“You can’t have it good, fast, and cheap.” —Unknown
“If you love something, it will work. That’s the only real rule.” —Bunny Williams
“I believe in doing the things you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right.” —Dorothy Draper
“We spend 87% of our lives inside buildings. How they are designed really affects how we feel, how we behave.” —Ilse Crawford
Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
[Studio Gild] We stay up to speed on emerging trends and innovative sources with Design Milk, Dezeen, and The Cool Hunter. The Design Chaser is a beautifully edited blog with a focus on Scandinavian interiors and design. And we’re always inspired by the extraordinary projects featured in Elle Décor and Architectural Digest.
What do you love about Viyet?
[Studio Gild] Viyet features a treasure trove of beautifully curated and well-priced vintage pieces, and it’s also an excellent online resource for scoring showroom floor samples.