New Golden Age

Artists Marco Braunschweiler and Martine Syms are a young Chicago-based couple who moved to Chicago from Omaha and Los Angeles, respectively, to attend the Art Institute. For an artist to stick around after graduation in a city not quite known for its bustling art scene is worth noting—taking the city and making it to your own is quite another. Since graduation in 2007,  Braunschweiler and Syms have owned and operated Golden Age, a curated boutique, bookstore, and event space. In the last few months they’ve moved from a shared location in West Pilsen to a storefront locationtwo blocks away. This week alone they’re hosting three events; herein they tell Interview why the weather’s always better in the Windy City.

AG: What is Golden Age up to?

MS: We just changed our web site. Now it’s

AG: Why did you change it?

MS: The new name is more active.

AG: Why did you call your store Golden Age?

MB: It’s all about the power and optimism of being young. It’s so easy to look at being young as inhibiting—”You can’t do this, or that.” I’m under 25, so I can’t rent a car—it costs an extra $20 a day—during art fairs. But Golden Age is about optimism: You just decide to do something and then you actually do it and you retain that optimism.

AG: Does it feel like a time of transition?

MS: Definitely. This week we have three events.

MB: One of the reasons we have the store is to be a hybrid space, so that when rad people we like come through town they can do things that are more experimental than at more institutional places.

AG: And you have new space for the store.

MS: We moved in last June. And it’s a pretty nice storefront on the main street, right by the museum. So it’s pretty cool we get some traffic from them.

AG:  When you were decorating the store, what were you thinking?

MS: All the furniture was designed by a local furniture designer named Andy Hall, and he set the tone for post consumer wood products.  We had a real woodsy vibe with different wood grains to influence different patterns and tried to use as much gold as we could find.

AG: What is the neighborhood like?

MB: It’s the same neighborhood where we live, in West Pilsen. There are two sections of Pilsen, which is like a little neighborhood Southwest of city center, Downtown. West Pilsen is really nice because it’s a really rapidly developing area. And there’s a lot of cool stuff going on.

AG: Do a lot of your friends live there?

MS: A lot of them do. When we first moved over here not that many did.
There are a lot of projects popping up; there’s one space called New York City, actually.

AG: You lived there for four years. How has Chicago changed since you’ve been there?

MB: It’s gotten a lot younger and happier.

MS: I think there are a lot of people who are really into the city like Marco and me.  We’re really committed to doing stuff and making it a fun place.

AG: Do you have any Chicago-based interns or employees or is just you two?

MS: It’s just us.

AG: What’s one thing about Chicago that we don’t know?

MB: The weather is not that bad. And it builds you into the strongest human being you can be.  

MS: Crate and Barrel started here.  

AG: Do any crazy people come into the store?

MS: Yesterday we were talking about the host of characters who frequent the store.  One guy comes in totally drunk into the store—totally wasted. Last week he showed us a book he was writing.

MB: I see him at a café and he’s always working on a laptop—like a 30-inch laptop. I think he’s a mechanical engineer.  I was scoping his laptop and it looked very scientific.  

MS:  We also have a guy who comes in and tries to sell us oversized children’s books.  We’re always like, “Dude, we don’t have any kids.”

AG: If there were one thing that I can share about you what would it be? 

MB: I just want more people to work with us.  

MS: Yes, join us at Golden Age.

Golden Age is located at 1744 W 18th Street, Chicago, and is open Thursday–Sunday, 12–6 PM.On March 28, from 3–7 PM, ASDF will produce an online exhibition, contributing from the Golden Age Store and the Capricious Gallery in Brooklyn. On April 18, artist Robin Cameron is going to be doing an installation and book release.