Nicholas Luzietti, interior designer with bold personal style, dies – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Nicholas J. Luzietti designed office spaces for a variety of clients as an interior designer who spent much of his career with VOA Associates in Chicago.

“Nick certainly was a character who enjoyed expressing himself in design, art and dance and he had a magnanimous personality,” said Tom Erdelac, who worked with Luzietti at two firms in the 1980s and 1990s. “Nick expressed himself in architecture and in design, bringing meaning, order and light into our lives.”

Luzietti, 76, died of a ruptured aortic aneurysm while in an ambulance on the way to Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Jan. 15, said his former wife, Robyne. He was a resident of the Northwest Side Old Irving neighborhood.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Luzietti received a degree in architecture from the University of Cincinnati in 1971. He worked as a creative sign painter for a small architectural firm in Toledo before moving to Chicago to take a job at the Harry Weese Associates architectural firm in Chicago.

In 1989, he joined Chicago-based interior architectural design firm PHH Avenue as a design executive, and in 1991 he was named vice president and director of interior design at Chicago-based VOA Associates, where he worked for the next 26 years.

His clients included the National Gallery of Art, Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club, Adams Street Partners, XL Insurance and Chicago Freight Car Leasing.

Luzietti specialized in bold and at-times colorful designs that were informed by minimalist influences, said colleagues, friends and family. His own personal style was defined by dark-framed glasses and a shock of white hair that seemed to stand straight up.

“That was one of his strong suits that he could kind of persuade the client or the customer to do something a little more creative and to kind of go out on a limb a little bit,” said Luzietti’s son, Tyler. “For an architect or an interior designer, that kind of made their day.”

“He could read people about as well as anybody I’ve ever seen,” said John Rush, a longtime friend. “People responded to him emotionally. People loved to work with him.”

A former colleague at VOA, Karen Schmitz, remembered Luzietti appreciating “when people were bold and took risks.”

Luzietti “helped me tap into parts of my personality I think I would have otherwise shied away from,” she said.

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Luzietti retired from VOA in 2017, a year after it was acquired by Canadian design firm Stantec. He was honored by Interior Design magazine with its Hall of Fame award in 2009.

Luzietti enjoyed having people to his house for homemade pizza, and could engage for hours on topics as wide-ranging as astronomy, human evolution, history, movies and the New Testament, Rush said.

“He was slightly iconoclastic,” Rush said. “(And) he was a chronic rebel. I guess that’s typical of a lot of artists — he was definitely a free thinker.”

In addition to his son and former wife, Luzietti also is survived by a daughter, Nicole Morton; two brothers, Martin and Thomas; a sister, Debbie Oaks; and four grandchildren.

Services were held.

Goldsborough is a freelance reporter.

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