The Nest Issue: Stuff and How to Have It | Feature | Chicago Reader

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"I 'm a maximalist," says Neil G., seated on an armless purple club chair, surrounded by futuristic, museum-quality Italian lamps. A display case on the coffee table houses pieces from his collection of antique grand tour souvenirs—replicas of famous sculptures and such, from the days when no upper-class education was complete without a trek through the cultural capitals of Europe.

Neil's parents were collectors. "It's in my DNA," he says. From a young age he filled his life with coins, stamps, trading cards—the stuff young boys typically collect—and his interests gradually evolved. His one-bedroom Lakeview apartment is a candy store for the eyes, showcasing pop art, giant plaster busts, plush patterned fabrics, psychedelic lighting—and a convex mirror so he can look at it all twice.

He calls his home a studiolo, using the Italian word for a small study, though it feels more like the mid-60s Carnaby Street bachelor pad of a well-heeled art dealer. But Neil, who majored in art history and works in the design industry, says he's just an avid eBay shopper.

"You have to scour for things," he says. "Anyone who has the time and inclination can find bargains on anything." He once bought a limited-edition print, based on a painting by Piet Mondrian and later valued at between $1,000 and $1,500, in a thrift store for $7. —Katherine Raz



"This is a collection of antique bronze reliefs, called 'plaquettes.' They depict biblical or mythological subjects and have been purchased from various auctions. The vintage chrome shelving unit where the smalls are kept came from a local antique mall."

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