By Katharina Hoerath, Director of Architecture

Over the last two years, Bond Collective saw expansion to two sprawling locations in nearby, but vastly unique, Chicago neighborhoods. Traveling between the two weekly, and against the backdrop of a global pandemic, Brett Hafstad has been managing both spaces for over a year with the patience, creativity, and a hopeful eye on the future. This month we’re sitting down to hear more about this laid back former Lacrosse player and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast.

KH: How long have you worked for Bond Collective and what was your first impression when you started?

BH: It will be 2 years in January. My first impression was interesting and different to any other job experience I have had in the past. I walked into a blank slate of a project. The first 2 weeks Drew and I were alone in this massive space, setting up some décor items, opening packages and getting ready before any tenants could tour the space or move in. It was really interesting to see this and be a part of the installation process.


KH: How did you end up working in the hospitality industry, what fascinates you about it? 

BH: I always wanted to work with people. At university I was a History and Political Science major and wanted to become a professor. During my summer breaks in college, I was working at a golf course and noticed I really enjoyed working with people on a regular basis. I moved up in positions very quickly and noticed myself running a full facility by the time I was 25 years old. I considered myself really lucky to have been able to get into this position so quickly and really loved the job and meeting new people everyday. 


KH: Going back to your past – tells us a little bit about your childhood.

BH: I was born in Maryland, and due to my father’s work, we bounced around a little bit, but we ended up in Illinois when I was in grade school. I still say I am from New England, but there is definitely a lot of midwestern in me!

I was born with broken collarbones. When I was younger I was a little bit of a rambunctious child – had a few stitches, and then broke my collarbone again. My dad always joked that they would name a hospital wing after me since I was there so often. 

I went to Purdue University in Indiana where I played lacrosse for our club team. Regularly, we would travel to play against other schools. We got to the play offs in my final year which was an awesome experience.


KH: Is there anything that people will find surprising about you – or do you have superpowers we haven’t seen yet(besides being able to manage to go back and forth between the two Chicago locations and take such good care of them)?

BH: Hm, I am pretty good a jigsaw puzzling. While growing up, my grandparents and I loved building jigsaw puzzles. I really got into again during quarantine. I can finish a 1000 piece puzzle in about five to six hours. When I was younger, I made a huge puzzle of the “The Last Supper” painting – it took such a long time and I didn’t want to put it away cause I was quite proud. 


KH: Do you have a favorite between the two Chicago Bond Collective locations? Or is there any other Bond location you really like? 

BH: I think the Fulton Market one resonates a bit more with my personality than the Opera house. I am in love with that location. I love the wooden beams, the brick walls, and the loft feel combined with the sleek design. The Bushwick location sticks out to me too. I just want to go there and experience all the colors and textures. Also, the Austin is phenomenal, that location feels super special to me. 


KH: What makes you stay sane, or keeps you calm? 

BH: That’s a tricky question, but I think I have a special “talent”of being able to not dwell on the tough moments and let go. I guess I would say, I am able to live in the moment. My girlfriend always gets quite jealous when I can fall asleep immediately and not get caught up with worrying thoughts and not be able to fall asleep. 


KH: What do you like in your free time, what are your hobbies?

BH: If I could walk around the city 24/7 and learn about the city I would. I love looking at maps and learning about the history of the environment I am in. For example, one of my favorite things to do in Chicago is the architecture boat tour.