Art meets purpose at SKIN, an Interior Design and Lifestyle firm based in Chicago. Principals Lauren Lozano Ziol and Michelle Jolas have a combined 40 years of interior and graphic design experience, and merge their talents to transform spaces by bringing inspiration to life. SKIN also features Lauren’s furniture line, and Michelle’s photography and vintage jewelry collection. Multi-talent, multi-purpose, multi-dimensional – the SKIN designers bring a cosmopolitan perspective to every project.
What is your background?
Lauren is a Chicago-based interior designer with 20 years of experience in the industry, holding degrees in Interior Design and Art History. After working with top Chicago design firms Leslie Jones and Scott Himmel, she founded her own company in 2002. Drawing inspiration from her extensive experience at auction houses and antiques stores – and her years living in London and Paris – Lauren has developed a keen eye for history and detail. Her client-focused approach keeps the design process dynamic, creative, and fun.
A serial entrepreneur with a career in graphic arts spanning 30 years, Michelle has worked with top global advertising agencies managing campaigns for international luxury brands – including The Peninsula Hotels and Hästens. She blends her creative experience with her passion for design; constantly on the hunt for vintage finds, frequenting estate sales and auction houses, Michelle’s extensive collection of vintage jewelry is renowned.
How did you get into design? Have you always been aesthetically minded?
I’ve been attracted to beautiful things from a very young age. I knew I wanted to be an interior designer and never sought out another career. This path seemed glamorous, exotic and exciting. Art history and design felt very cultured and intrigued me.
I have been drawing since I was little, so I always knew that I would major in Art. Fashion, jewelry and collecting photographs & art have been my passions forever. I am drawn to graphics and color – I see a beautiful photograph everywhere I look.
How do you achieve a polished look without it seeming too precious or austere?
Mixing old and new to create a timeless, classic look that never goes out of style.
If someone is working within a strict budget, where do you encourage them to spend and save?
We are all about the high/low mix. It is often quite a relief for clients to know that good design isn’t all about the ‘splurge’! There are so many great pieces out there at reasonable prices, and part of the fun is finding the ‘steals’ – and having the eye to find those diamonds in the rough. One person’s trash is another’s treasure…just like what Previously Owned by a Gay Man is doing.
Do you have a signature and does it find its way into every project?
Recently, we have been selling Lauren’s Oliver chair to many of our clients. Lauren designed a few gorgeous pieces of furniture, and everyone falls for her Oliver chair with its Deco-inspired lines. We love having a piece from our expanding collection in every client’s home.
Is there a current trend that you love and think will endure?
We are all about timeless, classic and effortless design. Our clients make a significant investment in the design of their homes, and we want to create rooms with staying power; fresh and relevant looks that will span the decades.
Do you tend to have tried-and-true favorites that find themselves into every job?
Yes. Everyone seems to love shades of blue and we do, too. Versatile hues from navy to turquoise have made appearances in our projects, in one form or another.
What is your favorite recent project and what made it special?
There are no words to express the pride we have in each design project, and when we look at the before-and-afters, we are stunned by the outcomes. Every client has different needs and different budgets, but everyone deserves amazing design. We recently did a home in Lincoln Park, Chicago with an initial meeting on October 31st and completion before Christmas. It was a crazy timeline, but a thrilling result!
We love these images of your work. Can you tell us anything about the inspiration behind these projects?
Lux Library was fun because the client wanted a true English library but also wanted to incorporate his vintage magic poster collection and his family oriental rugs. We started there and built off these details. The client is a true collector, and when it came to quality pieces he saw the beauty and value. The dining table was custom built to size, inspired by an English Library table with drawers at each end to store magic collectibles. No detail went unnoticed. It was a true collaboration. Lush and rich, yet inviting and warm. Our client never wants to leave the space.
Fashion meets Glamour was a real evolution for me and the clients. We layered the house over a few years as we found things they loved. I saw the clients grow in their design aesthetic before my eyes. They are a beautiful, chic couple who love travel, fashion and culture, and wanted a house that represented them and their love of European style and sensibility.
Do you have a fantasy project?
Yes! We were just hired to redo an amazing house in the Presidio of San Francisco. We are thrilled, and we love the client’s taste. Taking our business outside of the Chicago area is a real turning point for our company. Our goal is to expand worldwide.
What are your favorite pieces on Previously Owned by a Gay Man, and how would you use them in a project?
We love true vintage pieces by midcentury masters. The Saarinen black chairs are show stoppers, and could be paired with many dining table styles from French 40’s, metal, to a rustic wood Parsons style.
I have always been in love with Mattaliano furniture. I would have loved to have lived in Paris in the 1940’s, and apprenticed with Jean Michel Frank.
See more examples of Lauren’s and Michelle’s stunning interiors here