Eva Maddox Retires

Image courtesy of Perkins+Will

Eva Maddox has retired from her position as design principal at Perkins+Will. The Chicago-based designer founded her own interiors firm, Eva Maddox Associates, in 1975 before joining forces with Perkins+Will in 2002. She coined the term “branded environments” to characterize her research-based design approach that informed projects ranging from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York to Haworth’s corporate headquarters and showrooms across the country. In addition to being honored with Contract‘s Legend Award in 2011, Maddox contributed to the design of the Newell Rubbermaid Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which was named the winner of the Office: Large category at Contract’s 37th Annual Interiors Awards Breakfast.

The Tennessee native and University of Cincinnati alum arrived in Chicago following stints working in San Antonio and Cincinnati. She started her own firm with a certain amount of serendipity.  “I hear stories,” Maddox says. “I must have been out of my mind, but Chicago was welcoming. It was OK to be a woman and have your own company.”

The idea of the “branded environment” is likely to be her most lasting contribution to design. It began organically with her first Chicago commission—offices for Mercury Records. “It was important to express their artists,” she recalls. “They had stories to tell.” Decades of design explorations later, she says, “The essence of brand is to promote what a client can provide.”

Maddox will continue to work with Perkins+Will on special projects, but will devote most of her time to other pursuits. “I don’t know what’s next, but there is next,” she told Contract from early in a two-month holiday that she’s spending far from Chicago’s winter.