In selecting exquisite paper products from calendars to calling cards, the GREERChicago founder often is credited for her good design taste. In her Old Town stationery shop and on her website, Greer sells an eclectic collection of paper goods and writing instruments, as well as an iPhone-shaped cookie cutter and a Kate Spade dots-and-stripes eraser set. We asked her what’s capturing her original eye as the school year notebook season gets under way.
Style: Golden Goose sneakers
I wear sneakers with just about everything—suits, dresses, and skirts. They’re easy, casual, and stylish. Plus, I have two kids and run a retail store, so I’m on my feet a lot. These, from Italy, have a particularly graceful, bohemian, beat-up luxury that elevates sneakers to an art form.
I was last in Namibia in the spring of 2014, and it’s an experience I will treasure always. This is a land of extraordinary physical contrasts—other-planet-like sand dunes, sweeping coastal views, and low, lush mountains. The Himba women there, in the way they coat their hair and skin with a paste of red ochre, are striking and beautiful.
Art: Henry Darger
Henry Darger was the ultimate outsider artist, iconoclastic and super private. I first became aware of him because he lived in a boardinghouse across the street from where I used to live in Chicago. When he died, in the early ’70s, his landlord found a bunch of huge murals and a giant illustrated book. He did all of his artwork just for himself, and now it’s extremely valuable. I’m really drawn to that internal expression because it’s pure. His unintended genius makes me think about the creativity that exists in each of us.
Music: Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything?
I first heard this when I was in college at the University of Michigan, living a pseudo-hippieish life. I loved it because I thought it was romantic and expansive, in terms of genre and execution. Most of the album was recorded in the studio, with Rundgren playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals. Oh, and he also produced the album. I admire not only his creativity and talent, but also his ambition.
For 20 years, Serena has been quietly building absolute domination-level status in tennis.
Sports: Serena Williams
For 20 years, Serena has been quietly building absolute domination—level status in tennis. At 34, she doesn’t appear to be slowing down, winning her sixth Wimbledon championship this summer. I think a cult of personality sometimes builds around athletes of this caliber, and I don’t see that with her. She just goes out there and gets it done.
Architecture: The Nebraska State Capitol Building
I travel a lot, and this building in Lincoln, Nebraska, is one of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen—a piece of heaven. Every square inch has something beautiful about it, with glorious, detailed, and iconographic art deco interior design and craftsmanship. While it respectfully honors the immediate environment and culture, including Native American influences, it goes beyond the prairie environment to encompass inspirations from a wide variety of global human thought and experience.
—As told to Brent White