Classic modern style
International influences
Mixing periods, regions
Innovative approach
Thoughtful service
Translating personalities into homes...


Mary Rubino, owner of MRI, Inc., is a self-taught designer whose goal is to create residential living spaces that are inviting and comforting.

She was born and raised in the Midwest by parents involved in the sciences who believed in hands-on learning. As the second of five siblings, she learned well from her mother that the best fabrics and carpets hide hair, dirt & chocolate, although not necessarily in that order...

While at college studying psychology and economics as ways to understand human behavior, Mary was singled out for her inviting dorm room décor, and truthfully, she spent more time working on that than on her studies. Following a brief stint as a hostess in Chicago while writing her first novel, she returned to studying again, this time, cultural anthropology. During this period, she also lived in Italy researching her family's history. This is when it hit home with her that beauty in one's surroundings is not a luxury. Indeed, it is, and should always be, an ordinary part of daily life. Throughout her studies and travels around the world, Mary's preoccupation is always to see and understand how humans make their dwellings and what makes a house truly a home.

She believes that in creating a home that satisfies the soul, aesthetics and function must be balanced in equal proportions. Her anti-decorating style is refreshingly simple yet sumptuous. Mary believes in living fully in the present, not in the distant past, nor in the far future. That means using your good things daily, NOT saving them for your grandchildren; furnishing your home as a place to live, not a museum to visit; and creating a space that's sensible as well as beautiful.

Simple sheers on the windows, with fuss-less second layers, fabrics that breathe, not showing every mark, classic frames for the furnishings, colors used with boldness for variety and warmth, and patterns and textures many-layered or one alone, to achieve a depth of feeling... Always the overall effect is relaxed.

Warm, rugged, natural, colorful, classic, modern... Anything that defines living today is her style.... and translating her clients' natures into their home spaces is her trademark.

She started her business in 1996, working for friends who liked her down-to-earth, approachable attitude toward design as well as her sense of style. She officially opened her design firm in 1997, incorporated in 2000 and has been busy helping people make their homes ever since. She cares about how her clients use their homes and how they feel in their surroundings.

Projects have been published in The Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine and North Shore magazine. She is featured in the Chicago Magazine Home Issues and The Franklin Report of Chicago. She has done pro bono work for Saint Athanasius Parish and The Round Table in Evanston, Illinois, and the Jane Adams Hull House in Chicago.

Prior to opening her own design firm, she worked for Baker Furniture and Luminaire in Chicago. She did graduate studies at the University of Chicago and the University of Bologna in Italy and received her undergraduate degree from Brown University.

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"simplicity grows out of complexity, economy from richness..." le corbusier