Indianapolis Monthly


“I’m an old man,” Helmut Fortense says. “I have to recognize that. I’ve done my thing in this community. I’m ready to do the final stages of my life.”

He’s not old, actually. Fortense is 77 and in good health. But if there’s anything the German-born businessman has mastered, it’s how to live well. There are operas in Europe to see—he and his wife, Katie, recently attended two performances in Bayreuth, Germany, after waiting four years for tickets. There are books to read and music to make—the couple just built a glass pavilion at their home for such refined pursuits. There are fine cars to look at—Fortense had a successful career as the owner of a Mercedes dealership in Illinois before retiring at 50 and moving to Indianapolis.

But there is no more furniture or artwork to sell.

Fortense will walk away from his store, Form + Function, at the end of the month. At press time, he didn’t plan to sell it, but instead is holding a closing sale through December. His inventory is large and expensive, most of it European, representing the latest and best of modern design, as

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