Gray | Walter Shares Their Take on ‘When Ancient Meets Modern’

Below is a recent article written by Kenneth Walter of Gray & Walter Interior Design, who provides classic design for modern living. Read more from Kenneth on his blog here.


I love to travel, how about you? The famous documentary about Diana Vreeland was entitled “The Eye Has To Travel”–love her or hate her, it’s true! We often feel stressed out in daily life, there are so many tasks to complete each day. I’m a big time list maker, if there was an olympic gold medal I would have one! My saving grace and one of my secret weapons is The Golden Triangle. I love to write about my secret sources now and then, this is one of them. Since I’m based in Chicago I am fortunate to be a short flight from New York or slightly longer flight to the west coast to see clients or shop. But with the Golden Triangle I can travel around the world without leaving my zip code. How amazing is that?

I had the pleasure of chatting recently with Douglas Van Tress, co-owner of Golden Triangle along with his partner Chauwarin Tuntisak. Every time I visit GT I am overwhelmed by the physical beauty of the shop and the items available for purchase. I always leave inspired and energized. I asked Doug what energizes him? Doug smiled and replied “I get excited about mixing a wonderful juxtaposition of various cultures never displayed together. Our mission is to integrate a diverse array of objects. We are grateful to have become a global resource located in Chicago”.

Sometimes a client cannot envision adding older objects to a modern environment. When I bring some things out on approval they understand the point quickly, my clients are smart little crocodiles after all.

“I personally feel that mixing the old with the new is the best way to bring instant character to a space.”

– Kenneth Walter

Recently GT featured an exhibition of Indian Mardi Gras costumes. I found them to be quite colorful and perfect for those bold souls unfazed by color and pattern. While I admit they are not for everyone, I can attest to their unusual beauty.


Daniel Burnham once said  “Make no little plans”, this can be said of the Golden Triangle as well. They were recently contacted to create interior fittings for Rama Club, a chain of bars in China. These photos feature the Shenzhen location. Shenzhen is undergoing a bit of a renaissance itself. The former fishing village had a population of 5,000 forty years ago; the population has swollen to 12 million now that every big tech company has opened offices, factories or both.

I find that many of my smaller projects require a little something special. Over the years I have come to appreciate the skills of the workshop located within the Golden Triangle, here are a few examples of their fine work. One of the best things GT ever made for me was a small console for an entry foyer. Since the space didn’t have a wall, the piece had to have a finished back and float. We were delighted with the outcome!

One of a pair of stone urns converted to lamps (above). I wish you could have seen the original photos of the Art Deco club chairs prior to restoration and reupholstery. Thankfully there’s a pair of these handsome devils ready to go, talk about immediate gratification!


The workshop recently made a significant piece of wall art composed of vintage aluminum panels from France, framed in the Chicago workshop. I love how GT takes back pieces previously sold, retrofitting them for my client’s needs should they change or when the piece is relocated to another room or residence.

Coming Soon: GT Chiang Mai

Lastly, Doug and Chauwarin are excited about their newest adventure, come Fall they will be opening a new store in Thailand, located in Chaing Mai. Doug explained: “we’ve learned so much from Chicago, we’re a global city, we’re cool and logical. Asia is rising, we have a direct link to Chiang Mai which was once a sleepy place near the mountains conveniently located three hours from everywhere in Asia. Chiang Mai has grown tremendously, they have a new contemporary art museum, many 4 and 5 star hotels, the time is ripe for us to open an outpost. We hope you visit the next time you’re in Thailand”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little adventure, you didn’t even have to leave your lounge chair. I hope you’re as inspired as I am. Please let me know if you wish to take a personal tour, needless to say lunch is on me.

– Ken

About Gray & Walter Interior Design: Gray & Walter is a studio based in Chicago founded over two decades ago. The firm’s scope of work extends from ground-up construction and renovation to interior architecture, design and decoration for hotels, restaurants, private clubs, residential, corporate and other commercial spaces. Their aesthetic is characterized by diversity and unified by an essential clarity. Design evolves out of intimate dialogue: between the client and the designer, between the designer and the site.

About The Golden Triangle: What originally started with imported collectibles from Thailand, The Golden Triangle has since grown to an 18,000 square foot design destination. For more than 30 years, they have hand selected vintage and modern furnishings from around the world. Assembled in curated vignettes, the store boasts an eclectic mix of Asian and European antiques, artifacts, lighting, and other accessories. From designers and trade professionals, to collectors and simply curious shoppers, The Golden Triangle welcomes all individuals with an interest in design and appreciation for beauty.

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