For Circa Modern co-owners Jared Peterson and Don Schmaltz finding the right inventory is worth going to extremes. To be among the first visitors to a recent estate sale, the furniture dealers camped out in a van for 48 hours—an eff ort that paid off in spades. “We were able to secure a rare Elisabeth Frink bronze Walking Man II sculpture by getting in early,” Schmaltz explains, noting that such pieces distinguish their portfolio of modern furnishings and art by iconic figures. Internet rivals when they first met in 2009, Peterson and Schmaltz became fast friends, and in early 2013, they joined forces to open Circa Modern in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, which features unique finds including rare Eames chairs and wall units by George Nelson. Schmaltz stages the store while Peterson photographs the collections. Together they make deliveries and go out scouting for new pieces that are both functional and timeless. “We’re exposing our clients to the world of design,” says Peterson. “Our customers might come in to buy a sofa, but they leave with an education.”
LX: I became interested in vintage furniture because...
JP: There have always been antiques in my house. Growing up, I went to flea markets and estate sales with my parents, who are still avid antiques dealers today.
LX: Work approach:
DS: Our obsession with function and design is relentless. We keep our eye on the particulars and strive to put forward an exceptional collection of timeless pieces.
LX: Dream dinner party guests:
JP: Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, Eero Saarinen, George Nelson, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. They’re all true inspirations and problem solvers in the most elegant sense.
LX: Favorite hotel:
DS: The Standard hotel. My wife and I stayed at the one in Miami Beach and were very impressed with its décor, which consists of vintage and contemporary Scandinavian furniture. It also has the best infinity saltwater pool.