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text & photography by  JULIA BRENNER

Chicago-based fashion designer and artist,

Maria Pinto

, has famously dressed some of the world’s style icons, including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Brooke Shields. Maria’s latest collection, m2057, is inspired by urban architecture and design, merging a clean, minimal aesthetic with functionality and versatility.

Pieces from m2057 were recently featured on the hit show Empire, and to celebrate Chicago’s Architectural Biennial, Maria released a limited edition collection this past September inspired by the work of architect Jeanne Gang and photographed by renowned photographer Sandro Miller.

For the last five years, Maria has called a gorgeous converted loft space in Chicago’s River North neighborhood home. Maria’s loft, filled with personal treasures and one-of-a-kind pieces (including her own artwork), is an inspiring mix of beauty, serenity, and great design.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? My personal style has evolved over time, but right now, both in how I dress and where I live, there’s a sense of “couture meets deconstruction.” There is always an aspect of the two, and it distills down to a very functional vibe. I love getting dressed, but I don’t have time to get lost in it. I respect my time too much to overthink it.

WHAT ARE SOME ELEMENTS OF YOUR HOME THAT YOU LOVE AND WHY? I love open space, so living in a place that has such soaring ceilings really gives me perspective—being 5’3” and standing in a loft with 18’ ceilings!

What’s most important to me is to be surrounded by beauty and great design—it gives me a sense of calmness.

DID YOU MAKE ANY MAJOR CHANGES TO YOUR SPACE? This loft had a fire prior to my moving in, and everything was destroyed. Scott Heuvelhorst, who is designing the new M2057 store, designed the space.

MARIA, YOU SAID THAT YOU FEEL YOUR HOME IS YOUR SANCTUARY. CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF HOME AS SANCTUARY? We live in such a hyper state in all aspects of life, especially being in a large city, that I find it critical to my wellbeing to enter my space and feel a sense of peace.

It has been a relatively unconscious effort, but friends would visit and always tell me how serene my home felt, and I realized that I had created just that. I would like to think that I’m a minimalist, but I guess I am anything but! My surroundings are filled with treasures—not necessarily of monetary value, but things that I have acquired along my journey. Wherever I travel my luggage is always substantially heavier upon return— things like rocks or anything from nature that is legal to abscond with from places such as of Hawaii, Indonesia, Morocco and Argentina. And always books!

I think that so much of our experience is not obvious on the surface, and I am very conscious of space clearing, as in feng shui. So I am constantly on myself to have all things in my environment in good working order and to clear out anything that no longer has purpose. I hate clutter! Order in my environment is extremely important, and that goes for our store and company culture. I know my team appreciates and tries to honor this.

PLEASE DESCRIBE TWO OR THREE FAVORITE BELONGINGS (ART, PIECE OF FURNITURE, FAMILY HEIRLOOM, ETC). I have two wonderful sculptures that were given to me by a very special man in my life. One is a beautiful piece: it is a book, and its pages are layered with small rocks from the beach. The artist is Tom Skomski. The other is a bronze created by Ted Gaul.

Another favorite piece is the black Anastacha chandelier in my office by Bruno Rainaldi. It makes sitting down to work at the computer a little more fabulous. And as a design junkie, I adore my Patricia Urquiola chairs.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW LINE, M2057 BY MARIA PINTO! Architecture and urban design have always influenced my fashion, and I wanted to create a ready-to-wear collection that married sculptural shapes and minimalism with high functionality. M2057 is where the industrial meets the elegant.

Most women I know, myself included, get pulled in so many directions everyday, the last thing we need to worry about is what we’re going to wear. But at the same time, we want to look and feel beautiful and confident, and we want it to be effortless. So M2057 uses gorgeous Italian fabrics that are incredibly soft, but also machine washable and wrinkle resistant. The pieces travel very well, and can be styled so many different ways, they can take you from the office to dinner to a cocktail party.

Later this fall we will open our first permanent Style Studio in Chicago in the West Loop/Fulton Market district. I am so excited about the new space and the neighborhood—there is so much growth there and interesting things happening, and it’s a very creative environment with all the galleries and restaurants. It’s the perfect fit for M2057.

The other really exciting project we’ve just launched is a limited edition capsule collection inspired by architect Jeanne Gang. I love her work and think she’s a top design mind, and with the start of Chicago’s inaugural Architecture Biennial, it felt like the stars aligned to do something like this. The collection is called “M2057 Gang: Reveal, Architecture of the Body,” and it explores the relationship between garment and body form, and how women reveal and conceal their bodies.

Going forward, I’d love to do at least one of these kinds of capsules a year that are a little more conceptual and collaborative with other artists. Sandro Miller photographed this collection—he understood right away the ideas behind the designs, and really elevated the campaign. The photos are more beautiful than I could have dreamed.