Meet Mia

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Mia Rao is the founder and driving force of Mia Rao Design.

Mia's vision is to foster a collaborative environment with the client to create the ideal space. Her trademark intuitive nature allows her to tap into each client’s unique personality, interests and lifestyle. Mia uses that connection to transform each space into a true reflection of its occupants.

In college, a wide range of creative endeavors led Mia to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design. Her arts-based education enriched her design awareness, affording her the ability to see a space as a blank canvas ripe for artistic and creative expression. Prior to launching her thriving interior design business in 2001, Mia worked with design firms in Cincinnati and Chicago.

Mia's passion for traveling the world has enabled her to curate a “notebook” of textures, patterns and colors that she weaves into her work. Her inspiration comes from her travels to the far-flung locales of Italy, France, Istanbul, Mykonos, and Hawaii, and she also draws from favorite destinations closer to home, such as Colorado and California. While traveling she fine tunes her love of fashion, art, architecture, food and culture. Mia enjoys the surf, the mountains, the countryside, and camping — any experience that highlights the beauty of nature.

Mia further draws design inspiration from her Italian and Finnish heritage. Expertly blending these diverse cultural influences, she fuses a room into a cohesive, inviting environment. Mia’s designs elicit visual interest, depth, and energy, inspired by the world’s canvas.

Beyond travel, Mia draws on her love of global cuisine and cooking. Having spent time learning in her mother’s kitchen as a child, Mia developed a passion for food, and traveling to her Uncle’s Italian villa outside Rome introduced her to culinary art. She recognizes that modern homes often center around great food and entertainment, which can be flawlessly incorporated into an inviting space.

Spending time with friends and family grounds Mia. Her two young daughters inspire her to lead by example as a thriving female entrepreneur.

Meet Robyn

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Robyn Swanson is the “yin” to Mia Rao’s “yang”.

Sharing a similar design aesthetic and philosophy, Robyn joined Mia Rao Design in 2007. As Mia leads the design direction of the company, Robyn leaves no stone unturned, focusing on the details. A combination of creativity and attention to details is Robyn’s philosophy for project perfection.

Viewing her creative tendencies as hobbies as a youngster, Robyn pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Business. After several years in the business word, Robyn decided she would prefer to focus on her creativity and do something she truly enjoyed. In pursuit of her passion, she earned a design degree in Chicago while running a construction company with her husband.

While studying in Europe during college, Robyn fell in love with architecture and art. The dichotomy of the modern and historic buildings of Berlin and the lush seaside villas in the south of France ignited her interest. Robyn's love of architecture shines through in her attention to architectural detail in her work. Her tropical wedding in Puerto Rico and trekking through the jungles of Costa Rica continue to inspire her use of color.

At the core, it is a love of dance and music that is the foundation of Robyn's creativity. A grandfather that played percussion for the Dorsey brothers introduced rhythm and dance as to her as a girl, and that early interest developed into a passion for choreography and the stage as a young adult. Knowing that dance and music often provoke emotion, Robyn discovered that an intriguing interior can set the mood a client is looking for.

Robyn's family of five, which includes three young boys, forms the base of Robyn’s personal and professional life — keeping a functional home and work environment is key. Well designed, functional spaces have become a special interest for Robyn, and a cornerstone at Mia Rao Design. To this end, custom built-in millwork, which adds unique and beautiful functionality to a home, is a feature in many projects.

Robyn's business degree and construction background give her added insight into the design process, making her an integral part of the Mia Rao Design team.

Meet Laura

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Laura Aliabadi brings a youthful, classic eye to Mia Rao Design.

Joining the design team in 2015, Laura brings a classic twist that compliments the signature eclectic design aesthetic of Mia Rao Design. Her relaxed demeanor effortlessly bridges Mia’s creative energy and Robyn’s attention to detail. Her poise promotes the pleasant design experience of the firm.

Exposure to design began early for Laura, whose mom was a wedding planner and owns a gift boutique. After completing a double major in Business and Fashion Merchandising, Laura moved to New York City and worked with many top designers. Inspired to explore the industry, she moved to Chicago to actively pursue Interior Design. After working for several showrooms and interior designers, Laura arrived at Mia Rao Design.

Inspired by travel, Laura roams the planet as much as she can. Experiencing the viewpoints of different cultures around the world continually molds her perspective on life, as well as design. A dream of hers was to be married in a Chateau, so the Loire River Valley and all its quaint splendor become the backdrop for her wedding. Antique shopping at every destination is an opportunity to bring home treasures. Laura believes that adding items collected while traveling adds character and interest to an interior.

Laura seeks out new hotels in her frequent travels. She enjoys experiencing their vastly different architectural and design styles, which gives each of them a unique ambience. A fascination with experiencing culinary art has also sprung out of her love of travel. Constantly updating her world view and frame of reference gives Laura a wide base from which to draw &md; this perspective is an invaluable tool for collaboration with clients.

The third member in Laura’s house is an adorable Goldendoodle named Dom. A real attention getter, he brings liveliness and energy to her home. Laura's love for Dom inspires her to consider “loved ones” such as pets, often considered another member of the family, when designing spaces for clients.

"Mia just finished designing my new Streeterville condo and I love it! Mia and her staff were a pleasure to work with. I would recommend Mia Rao Design to anyone."

L. Smith

"We recommended Mia to select furnishings, art and decorative objects for a new single family home in Lincoln Park, for which we were the architect. Mia immediately connected with the Owner and she and her team selected pieces that compliment and bring depth into all the living spaces of the home. She is professional, flexible, and enjoyable to work with. I especially appreciate her ability to understand and respond to the design work of the home, and to engage with and support the personality and interests of the Owner."

Blender Architecture