With chutzpah, determination and a discerning eye, designer Erin Shakoor is on her way to becoming a household name.
Founder of Shakoor Interiors, Erin Shakoor
“I am a relentless networker,” glides from Erin Shakoor’s lips when I connect with the interior designer to discuss all things decor, textiles and her eponymous firm. Her boldness strikes me. I’m enveloped by her charisma and drawn to her transparency. “I taught myself to schmooze and engage.” It’s the truth behind so many successful careers yet so often is sugarcoated—lest we look desperate in the pursuit of our dreams. Not Shakoor. She’s here to deliver the unabashed reality of her start in this talent- crowded industry. And it’s massively refreshing.
With training in the fine arts, textile and surface design, and historic preservation, Shakoor seamlessly transitioned into interior design. While working on commissioned textile projects for residential clients, she found herself thrust into the design mix: suggesting art curation, new furniture layouts, improved lighting and—God help us—a better paint color than “Builder Beige.” “Those organic conversations turned into requests,” she says, and she began to hear the call of “Can you take care of that for me?” With the confidence of a seasoned industry vet she had yet to earn, “I would say OK, then walk out the door and think, ‘What did I just agree to?’” Shakoor recalls.
The yellow couch is the centerpiece of this living area.
Through referrals and the nurturing of relationships, Shakoor Interiors found its footing. Now, after nearly two decades in the biz, the designer is touted for her “saturated colors, mix of unique and familiar textures, and as much art and artifacts as possible,” she says. And her projects are wholly memorable—a kaleidoscope of rich tones in combination with found objects, a collected feel with a layered mentality. Drawing on historic architecture, pre-colonial African and Brutalist architecture, and avant-garde fashion “is where all the yummy contrasts and unexpected visual and tactile moments occur,” Shakoor says.
Today, she embraces the cheeky, texture-filled aesthetic on which her firm was founded as she looks to the future. An active participant in the design industry and the community, Shakoor has been both mentor and mentee in organizations such as House Beautiful Advisory Board, Design Trust Ltd., Interior Design Peer Alliance and Black Artists + Designers Guild, and has participated in community conversations and book clubs inspired by recent Black Lives Matter protests. In the interior design space, she notes, “I want Shakoor Interiors to grow into a firm that actively supports more Black presence in the industry, creates iconic products and head-turning interiors here and abroad, and develops partnerships within the hospitality industry.”
Her ambition is palpable. After only a short time spent in Shakoor’s world, I have no doubt this star will succeed in her quest. She’s talented, enchanting and, undoubtedly, will continue to put her personal stamp on Chicago interiors.
Photography by: From top: Rayon Richards; Bob Coscarelli