Carson Maddox picks his favorite five places in Chicago

carson maddox head shot

Drawing inspiration from Mid-Century Modern design, Chicago furniture designer Carson Maddox creates stunning handcrafted works of art (see gallery below).

Maddox is not only fascinated by the lines from mid-century design, but also is intrigued by how the designs incorporate modern materials and processes used in industrial applications.

Armed with his eye for good design, Maddox agreed to share his five favorite things in Chicago.

In his own words, here are Maddox’s top picks:

Finkl & Sons Foundry

finkl and sons 1


Surrounded by what has now become one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods, Finkl & Sons Foundry stands as an active, living testament to Chicago’s industrial roots. It’s not exactly open to the public, but the expansive complex is bisected by an open city street that provides intimate access. 

During the summer, the open doors allow you to witness the pouring of molten metal from the sidewalk. During the winter, you can warm up next to the giant billets of steel as they cool, a process that can take days.

Chicago Water Taxi

chicago water taxi


There’s no better way to appreciate Chicago’s architecture than from the river, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation has a brilliant tour dedicated to exactly that. For my money, though, nothing beats the water taxi. Running from Chinatown on the south to Goose Island on the north, it’s a completely different perspective on the city. Visually it’s an entirely new way to see things, and the contemplative pace of travel on the river is something you won’t find at street level.  

Bloomingdale Trail

bloomingdale trail 2


Formerly an elevated rail line that serviced heavy industry like Finkl & Sons, the Bloomingdale Trail still stands as an unofficial Chicago park. If the river gives you a different perspective from below, the Bloomingdale Trail does the same thing at elevation. From the grand to the humble, it’s a contemplative walk through the kind of neighborhoods that comprise the soul of Chicago. At this point you still have to sneak through fences to get up to it, but trust me the trouble is worth it.   

Farmer’s Markets

farmers market


Shop alongside world-renowned chefs at the Green City Market or simply walk down the street to your local farmer’s market. Whether it’s freshly prepared crepes, crusty fresh baked bread, or the freshest greens you’ve ever tasted; there’s no more deliciously satisfying way to shop locally. 

Blackbird and avec

Blackbird and avec 2


There are far too many great restaurants to name here, but Blackbird and avec have been doing everything right for so long that they deserve special mention. It’s the perfect intersection of great food and great design. Don’t just take my word for it, the James Beard Foundation has agreed with me many times over. If Blackbird is booked and the line at avec is too long, head down the street to Maude’s Liquor Bar  for great bistro food and even better cocktails. 


Carson Maddox
4200 W. Diversey Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639