Team

Tom Stringer

Founder & President

Tom’s sophisticated professional style springs from the intersection of his formal training in classical architecture and his passion for exotic travel. Tom is an inveterate traveler and collector. Each year, he visits a new corner of the earth for adventure and inspiration, and in each instance, he filters his experiences through the prism of design. His photo albums reveal his rich sightings like the patterned back of a Spotted Eagle Ray in Fiji, a ballet troupe of sharks circling slowly overhead in the Tuamotus and the tangle of color on a rag trader’s cart in Tangiers. Tom’s travel experiences are embedded in his artistic senses. In this way in his design practice, he too bridges styles and cultures, enriching his projects with unexpected detail.

The same rigorous planning, enthusiasm and joy of discovery Tom brings to his travels he brings to the comfortably glamorous homes he creates—starting with his own. The 19th century Lincoln Park greystone Tom shares with his partner, Scott, and their American Eskimo dog, Tucker, is filled with intriguing Oceanic and African objects along with a breezy mix of modern and antique furnishings. It’s also always filled with friends. Tom renovated his house to create an airy floor plan that entices guests to wander room to room or onto a well-appointed garden terrace. Tom’s design philosophy is that a home should be, above all, the backdrop for a well-lived life with friends and family.

Tom’s passion for discovering great food and unusual wine led to his long-time collaboration with famed chef Grant Achatz on the interiors of Alinea, recognized by many as the finest restaurant in America. The two have gone on to design three more nationally acclaimed projects in Chicago: Next, Aviary and The Office. Tom’s boundless creativity has also given shape to his own line of contemporary upholstered furnishings and hand-tufted carpets, available through TexStyle.

Tom holds a Bachelor’s Degree in design from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Arizona State University. His heroes are Richard Diebenkorn for his extraordinary use of color, Albert Hadley for his elegant sense of comfort, and the endlessly adventuresome Jacques Cousteau.

“I’m interested in mixing objects of different eras to tell a deeper story. And I like clean-lined, classically inspired shapes paired with things that are more textural or exotic because I think opposites magnify each other.”

John Cialone

Vice President & Design Director

John’s role as Design Director is multi-faceted and deploys his characteristic energy to oversee client presentations and installations as well as the day-to-day priorities of the design staff. Prior to joining Tom Stringer Design Partners, John ran his own Florida-based interior design firm, was an executive for Schumacher and even spent four fashionable years as Chief Operating Officer of luxury footwear maker Stubbs and Wootton. John has an incredibly broad range of design expertise which he devotes to ensuring the flow of clients’ projects is smooth and steady. “We never miss an installation deadline. When we promise a date, we deliver.”
John holds a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale as well as one in Business Administration from American University in Washington, D.C. John is a Registered Interior Designer in the State of Illinois.

“We are always a solution-oriented firm. Whatever the site conditions, or project parameters, our goal is to make the final result more beautiful than the client ever thought it could be.”

Rick Wetzel

Director of Interior Architecture

Rick is the firm’s expert on the construction techniques and structural specifications necessary for the enduring integrity of the project’s foundations. In this vital role he collaborates with mechanical engineers, contractors and sub-contractors, as well as fellow architects to make sure that all the pieces of a client’s project tie together—both practically and aesthetically.
Prior to joining Tom Stringer Design Partners in 2006, Rick was a project manager for the interior design firm Gregga Jordan Smieszny Inc. He has prepared design and construction plans and overseen projects at well -regarded Chicago area architecture firms A. Wilson Architects, Marvin Herman & Associates, and Grunsfeld Associates, and has also worked in residential construction management. Rick’s expertise allows him to shepherd residential and commercial projects all the way from drafting table to move-in day.
Rick graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a degree in Architecture.

“We pride ourselves to apply the principles of classical architecture, symmetry and balance—so our projects are never overdone or underdone.”

Teresa Stuart

Business Manager

Teresa runs all the administrative functions at the Tom Stringer Design Partners office. Her responsibilities include overseeing the firm’s finances, technology and marketing, and most importantly, tracking time billing and contracts to ensure the smooth processing of invoices and schedules. With her precise eyes on the myriad details of billing, payments and shipments, the firm’s projects flow smoothly and on track, and client and vendor questions are answered swiftly and completely.
With prior experience in both the education field and the real estate industry, her passion is bringing quality processes to office management and bookkeeping in the design industry. Most immediately prior to joining Tom Stringer Design Partners in 2003, she worked for the Janet Schirn Design Group in Chicago. Teresa was educated at Triton College in Accounting.

“Tom is an unusual blend in this business as he is a strong businessman in addition to being an unusually creative designer.”