Less is more

Marc DeMoss takes a classic Mies residence back to its roots.
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A telescope offers bird�s-eye views of the so-called playpen on the lake, bringing summertime boaters� debauchery into DeMoss�s serene living room.
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DeMoss�s sleek gray cat, Speaker, has lived at the apartment since he was adopted from a shelter in 2007. �I got him in part because his coat matched the decor so well, but he�s the star of the place. Everyone wants to take him home.�
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The stainless-steel-clad pipes between the kitchen and the bar were a happy accident of the renovation. �Lane was devastated when we learned they�d be in the way of the fabulous island we�d planned, but leaving them exposed works just as well. They make for a sculptural element that gets tons of comments.�
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The owls on the bar came from a boutique art vendor in France (where DeMoss was recently stationed on a months-long work assignment) and were sculpted by artist Yvon Matagne.
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Back when Marc DeMoss, 28, was a University of Chicago student living in the Gold Coast, he discovered he was a Mies van der Rohe nerd. “I remember driving north from Hyde Park, and I always noticed [Mies’s iconic 860 and 880 North Lake Shore Drive, completed 1951] buildings, but I didn’t learn of their significance until later on,” he says. “I almost caused a few accidents from turning my head to gawk.”


Back when Marc DeMoss, 28, was a University of Chicago student living in the Gold Coast, he discovered he was a Mies van der Rohe nerd. “I remember driving north from Hyde Park, and I always noticed [Mies’s iconic 860 and 880 North Lake Shore Drive, completed 1951] buildings, but I didn’t learn of their significance until later on,” he says. “I almost caused a few accidents from turning my head to gawk.”

In March 2006, after looking at every other Mies high-rise in the city, DeMoss and a longtime family friend, Lane Adams (an L.A.-based architect and designer) chose to buy the first apartment they saw: a large unit made of two smaller ones on a high floor in the 880 North Lake Shore Drive building, with stunning views of the lake and Navy Pier—but not-so-stunning late-1960s decor. “A retired couple had used top-quality materials at the time: canary-yellow kitchen cabinets, an entry foyer finished in sparkly silver wallpaper covered in gold peacocks, and a Sputnik-looking light fixture which my friends fought over during the demolition.” DeMoss suspects the previous owners wanted it to feel like the suburban home they’d once lived in.

But anyone who knows Mies (1886–1969) knows the grandfather of the modern skyscraper didn’t go for the suburban look—his residential buildings in Chicago and elsewhere tend to be inhabited by eclectic groups of architects, designers and creative types who appreciate his Spartan ideals—so DeMoss and Adams (who stays at the apartment only when visiting Chicago) went to work remaking the unit into a showplace worthy of its history. “Lane had great ideas for the layout, and they involved knocking out all the walls and starting from scratch,” says DeMoss, a product and marketing manager at Morningstar. “But it was definitely a collaborative project. I had this vision of being able to sit in one corner and see the entire expanse of windows in the whole place.” One diligent contractor, heaps of construction dust and 11 months later, DeMoss finally moved in.

“Lane and I shopped for the furniture together—it’s mostly from European Furniture Imports, Design Studio and Room & Board,” DeMoss says. But the day his two neutral couches arrived became one of the small hiccups of the project. “I’d measured to make sure they’d fit in the freight elevator, which is unusually small given the age of the building,” he says. “But I hadn’t accounted for the size of the hallways, and there was no way they were going to fit.” DeMoss looked at the sofas sitting in the driveway and thought to himself, What a waste of money. But he had a local handyman saw the sofas in half, brought them up and patched them together again—and his guests are none the wiser.

Since DeMoss is known as the master entertainer among his friends, he has plenty of visitors. The avid home cook (braised short ribs, beef bourguignonne and Cornish hens are among his specialties) hosts everything from intimate dinner parties for six to cocktail bashes for 100. A recent favorite, he says, was last year’s holiday party that began at 11pm. “It’s hard to compete for time on people’s calendars, so I figured it would be fun and different as all the fancy parties were letting out,” he says. DeMoss decked out his place with candles, evergreens and every kind of holiday candy he could find and even hired a bartender to serve Manhattans at the bar. “People stayed and danced until three in the morning—even my parents.”

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