After years in the corporate world, Studio 6F founder Gil Melott faced a major crossroads in his life. In 2015, following a major heart-attack, he began to realize that there is a difference between being successful as a corporate executive, and being truly fulfilled.
Thus his career as an interior designer, and the idea for his affiliated art and design gallery, Studio 6F, were born. Named after the hex color code for white, #FFFFFF, the 6F represents Melott’s theory that projects should always start with a blank slate or empty space in order to achieve the best results.
Located in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, Studio 6F showcases a unique selection of antique finds as well as work from up and coming Chicago artists. In addition to running and curating the gallery, Melott designs eclectic spaces for those hoping to tell a story through their homes. We recently sat down with Melott to learn more about his design process, and the goings on at Studio 6F.
How long have you been in the design field? When did you develop Studio 6F?
After essentially becoming the go-to interior design specialist within a number of firms I worked for in the past, I decided to break out on my own and develop a place to really hone my style and brand.
Studio 6F became not only my daily workspace, but a place to bring clients, as well as a gallery space for pieces and artists that bring me joy. We have been here as a brick & mortar in Logan Square since 2017, but I’d say the Studio 6F brand has been steadily developing through my design work over the last five years or so.
What inspired you to enter the world of interior design?
I have always found myself involved in a creative role, regardless of my career at the time. I’ve always been driven by the idea of creating narratives. As an advertising executive, I was cultivating relationships. In hospitality development, it was about driving a sensory experience. But at the heart of both of those things was a keen sense of aesthetics and design. And that eventually translated into a more literal sense of the work I was doing.
We hear that you’re participating in the Chicago design show Design at the Tracks. Can you tell us more about your involvement in it?
Of course! Design at The Tracks is an exclusive collective of Chicago’s elite design dealers, many of whom also feature their pieces on Decaso. Each vendor will fill their space with a selection of post war furniture, art and decor from America and Europe. The inaugural show September 14 + 15 will be held along the decommissioned industrial train tracks beneath the Midland Building, a converted historic factory space. We are so excited to be featured beside some of our best friends in this industry, and bring the best of what Chicago has to offer for free to the public.
You can find more info on Design at the Tracks at their website at https://thetrackschicago.com/
Does your design aesthetic within the gallery play a role in other aspects of your life?
Because the studio is such an accurate representation of who we are, it inevitably does. There have been a number of times when Claire and I have been out and about—in a client’s home or at an event—and have been told how emblematic our personal style is of the brand. Now I can’t lie: We dress pretty well! But also, it drives home that same throughline that the brand is something that is real and livable. If we do it, so can our clients.
Who is the Studio 6F staff comprised of?
Our primary team consists of myself, and my assistant Claire Marie Patterson. We work in close proximity—literally at the same table—and are constantly going back and forth. Claire is sharp and stylish, and is able to handle just about anything I throw at her, from website management and layout, to our retail platforms, to sourcing and design. We have a handful of satellite assistants that help on specific tasks and projects, but day to day it’s mostly Claire and me…and my trusty American Bulldog, Chap.
We couldn’t help but notice that your dog Chap’s coat fits the Studio 6F aesthetic swimmingly! Is this just coincidental?
It does, doesn’t it? Honestly, that is entirely coincidental. I rescued Chap a couple years before Studio 6F was born.
What about the neighborhood of Logan Square and its culture appealed to you?
I chose Logan Square because it has always been an exceptionally culturally diverse neighborhood. That is important to how I think. As a bonus, the neighborhood continues to be a thriving home base for artists and makers. The square features quite a few carefully curated shops and galleries, as well as James Beard and Michelin noted restaurants and bars. It serves as a dynamic cross-section of Chicago’s entrepreneurial edginess
You feature many local Chicago artists and designers in your collection. What makes the Chicago art scene unique?
We are fortunate that Chicago’s most relevant and inspired artists and makers have found a home in Studio 6F. We have been able to develop rich and collaborative relationships with both new designers, and well as established brands. One of the strengths of the Chicago scene is that there exists a supportive and constructive confluence of all types of ideas – finding their way into homes and public spaces through informal and formal creative networks. I consider Studio 6F to be a fortunate steward of these interactions.
While the pieces in your collection range in style, they’re very cohesive. What is your process for selecting artists, designers and pieces for your collection?
We have fostered relationships between quite a disparate community of makers and designers. We find they’re often born organically, and we work well together because they also embody a similar ethos to Studio 6F: Quality storytelling within the art itself as well as the process, craftsmanship valued over expediency, and functional high design.
You’ve been known to successfully mix textures, styles, periods and materials within a space. When it comes to this skillset, is there a science to it, or do you leave it up to your artistic eye? Is there a lot of trial and error in your process?
My process is as much alchemy as it is a formulaic science. My inherent style pulls pretty organically from a range of eras—new pieces in tandem with antique and vintage ones.
I believe the design process is mostly an art form. Assured planning and understanding, followed by careful deconstruction and reconstruction of an idea. The idea evolves with the client’s input, and morphs into a reflection of their distinct wants and needs, truly telling their story in a deeply personal and meaningful way. Trial and error is one way to put it, but perhaps more so, it is an evolution.
What advice would you give to someone designing a new room, who is wary of combining two or more very different aesthetics or pieces?
Other than say take a deep breath, relax and trust me, you mean? I definitely recommend consistency in color palette, simple uncluttered collections and a range of textures that provide appropriate significance for each piece. Heck, find images for inspiration: clothes, nature, other interiors that motivate you. You can always switch it out and reconstruct.
As the name 6F implies, your design philosophy stresses the importance of starting with a blank slate when designing a space. What makes this particularly important in your view?
I certainly begin with the premise of approaching design projects with an open mind and more of a proverbial “blank slate.” Not without a point of view, but with the very clear intention that a family’s home or a chef’s menu will serve as the focus to the overall project, with everything else reverberating out from there. What is the story of the space and the people? How will it be activated? How will it be shared and how will it be remembered?
Your gallery also operates as a private event space. What are some examples of past events you’ve hosted?
Folks have come to experience the Studio 6F gallery and showroom as a place uniquely suited to celebrate their lifestyles surrounded by art, custom designs and select vintage pieces. We have opened our doors to host new artist shows, fashion design launches and private cocktail fundraisers. It suffices to function as yet another facet of our collaborative process.
When Modern Luxury named Studio 6F Best New Design Gallery, you were quoted saying “To find fulfillment is what we all aspire to do.” What is the most fulfilling aspect of being a designer?
I love what I do. Every day I work with beautiful things and am surrounded with creative, talented people. I have the good fortune of being awarded great trust by families and businesses to develop amazing spaces. I would have to say that the greatest reward comes months after a project has ended, when I’m having cocktails with a client and I really get to see how a space is being lived in, and the new stories being written.
Lead photo by Studio 6F