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Design Dose

April 2008

9 years
ago

 

Ikea, Easier

Aside from Trader Joe’s, perhaps no store makes me happy as Ikea, that bastion of inexpensive, smart Swedish design. Now Karin Sullivan, a long-time friend and contributor to our magazine, has clued me in to a tip that made shopping there more fun. In a word, Bolingbrook. All things considered, if you can go to the Bolingbrook Ikea over Schaumburg, do it. It’s a straight shot out 88, and it’s much less crowded and easier to navigate. I bought tons of cute paper napkins for outdoor parties this summer (50 for $2.95), and fell in love with this printed canvas for $80. I also bought a fab coir doormat for $9.99 and a couple of frames for $13.99 each. For her daughter’s room, Karin made off with a loveseat that converts to a bed, colorful pillows, and some discounted fabric emblazoned with peace signs that will become curtains. A Sunday well spent!

9 years
ago

 

Toast Master


When I was over at my friend’s house for a dinner party, I complimented a robin’s-egg-blue toaster in her kitchen. Turns out it’s from the British company Dualit, it was designed for heavy-duty crumpet-crisping in hotels and restaurants, and she picked it up at Sur La Table on Clybourn. It was also, gulp, over $300. My Pop-Tarts usually warm up in a decidedly more low-rent oven, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it over the next few days. I did a little shopping around, and before long this sexy red two-slot version was hanging out with my KitchenAid mixer on the countertop. I bought mine at Cooking.com for about $240, and every day it makes me smile. I love how solid and simple it is, and the manual lever means muffins keep warm until you’re ready for them. For my sister’s birthday, I gifted her with the same version in pink. (She lives in Boston—does that make us bi-toastal?)

9 years
ago

 

ZED451


Attention design junkies who also happen to love good food: The just-opened steakhouse ZED451 at 739 N. Clark St. is architect and designer Chris Smith’s (he’s done Nobu in New York, among others) first Chicago project. We love all the outside-in natural elements (wood, fire, rocks, plants), the two-story atrium that floods the space with natural light, the mix of dark/light hickory and maple floors, and, on one of many fireplaces (including one of the rooftop), the gun metal curved ceramic tile with rolled steel trim. Oh, and the fresh baby carrots, the ravioli, the chocolate tarts, and the baby lamb chops (the latter loved by my carnivorous husband).

9 years
ago

 

Junk Food

Calorie-free Pop Tarts? Hostess cupcakes as big as your head? Sign us up. I was first turned on to Pamela Michelle Johnson’s huge and hip snacks series American Still Life amid the yummy home design finds at Zella Brown in Wicker Park. Get a gander of Jonhson’s work and first major exhibition of this series at The Artist Project at Artropolis this weekend. More than 300 soon-to-be-fabulously-more-famous-names will be showing on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart through Monday. To meet the girl behind the goodies and more than a few of her creative friends (don’t miss f2), grab a free pass.

 

POPTARTS / 52"x72” / oil on canvas / 2007
HOSTESS CUPCAKES / 64"x64” / oil on canvas / 2007

9 years
ago

 

Ralph Lauren, Part 2


Two posts in a row about Ralph. No, I’m not on his payroll, but I’m definitely fascinated by how a young man named Lifshitz who grew up in the Bronx could create such a deliciously WASP-y lifestyle empire. I bring this up because in the process of hunting down that sweater-style rug by Lauren that I wrote about two days ago (which, sadly, is no longer being made, according to Lauren’s press department), I became ensnared by his online marketing vehicle Ralph Lauren Home. You can’t shop on this Web site like you can on the regular Ralph Lauren Web site, but you are invited to learn how you, too, can live like Ralph in the “RL Style Guide.” Clearly, their MO is to get you to buy their stuff: The SHOP NOW icon appears shamelessly below tips on topics such as “adding glamour to your home without a complete overhaul” and making your indoor space “feel like the outdoors.” But the tips are pretty good and it’s fun to look at the videos and pictures. The photos are super-styled and super-luxe and their campaigns really do inspire you to live the RL lifestyle, if only in your mind. See you at the club!

Photography: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren Home

9 years
ago

 

Branca’s New Store

Nothing like scooping your own publication. Our May/June issue, on newsstands May 1, reports that design doyenne Alessandra Branca (pictured here in her former shop, which was adjacent to her design offices; see our 2005 story about her here) is opening a new store at 17 E. Pearson St. on May 8. I was invited to a preview party on May 7 to see Branca’s furniture and one-of-a-kind accessories culled on her travels to Europe and India. We’ll keep you posted.

9 years
ago

 

The Sweater Rug


The other day we did a photo shoot at Room & Board for a story about throw pillows (learn everything you ever wanted to know about them in our upcoming July/August issue). The pillows were obviously the stars of the show, but we also used a rug in the shoot that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since. It’s the Cable rug in Heather (see photo at left), and the reason I love it so much is that it looks and feels like a big old sweater. Problem is I’m not sure if it pills like one, too, so if anyone has any experience with this rug, please share. It’s new to Room & Board so it’s unlikely anyone has lived with it long enough to know what will become of it in a couple of years… Still, any insight on 100-percent undyed wool would be great. This reminded me that a few years ago, I was considering getting similar wool carpeting by Ralph Lauren (see photo at right). I was planning to have it cut to an 8-by-10-foot size and bound with fabric, and it was going to cost about $1,300—the Cable rug costs $1,599 for around 7 by 10 feet (granted, it is a lot softer). Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the carpet store on Lincoln Avenue that carries the Ralph Lauren floor coverings collection (anyone have a clue?). Be sure, I have put in a call to RL corporate to figure this out. I will report back when I have more information. I love the idea of having a cozy sweater underfoot.

Photography: Courtesy of Room & Board and Ralph Lauren

9 years
ago

 

Knock. Knock.


If you haven’t been to the new Elements store yet… well, shame on you. You’re missing out on a bevy of edgy/elegant home design finds, delicious jewelry, great bags, gorgeous coffee table books, treats catered by Southport Grocery when you saddle up to the iPod bar, and more. We covered the store’s opening in the mag long before the dust settled, so here’s our reminder… get there now! OK, now back to La Door. After owners Jeannine Dal Pra and Toby Glickman decided to scoot off Oak Street in favor of trendier digs on Wells, they took a buying trip extraordinaire, scoping the globe for all things inspirational. Among their discoveries in London: “We admired the way people’s front doors really showed their individuality,” says Glickman. When the two hit upon a stellar door pull at an antique store, the deal was sealed. Dal Pra scribbled a sketch, and they had a carpenter build a totally unique door for their shop. They painted it Rumba Orange (Benjamin Moore #2014-20), et voilà. Entering the loo has never been so fabulous.

9 years
ago

 

Sit Stay Style


My spirited little dog Lucy does not suffer novelty hats or seasonal sweaters gladly, but she’s developed an eye for nice home design, I like to think. My fave Chicago pet store, Streeterville Pet Spa & Boutique (401 E. Ontario St.) just got in some new Italian lines that rolled us both right over. Owner Marion Thompson has a great eye and always stocks a lot of stylish creature comforts, including a rotating display case of dog treats that look good enough to serve bipeds, made by a local pastry chef. She told me these Milanese EGR beds use that super-tough Sunbrella fabric that won’t fade or stain, and they’re about $50 to $85. The designs are sort of wiener werkstatte meets Japanese print, all in a mid-cent-mod color palette.  With chic canine couches like these, who wouldn’t mind a couple lying around the house? Good girl, Marion! 

Photos from petego.com

9 years
ago

 

Modernica at I.D.


We were sad to see Modernica close its showroom in River North earlier this year. So imagine how happy we were to hear that the store’s fiberglass chairs, bubble lights, Noguchi tables and chairs, and other modern furniture has found a home at I.D., one of our favorite home accessories stores. A manager at I.D. tells us they have a sampling of Modernica’s most popular items, but that any item can be ordered through I.D.

9 years
ago

 

Sweet Dreams


I got a sneak peek at the Merchandise Mart’s DreamRooms the other day. I was there to be interviewed for a video that will play on a loop at the Mart promoting the show. (Chicago Home + Garden is the media sponsor of the event.) Some of the Mart’s biggest showrooms—Holly Hunt, Donghia, Henredon—had designers showcase their wares in lovely living spaces. DreamRooms doesn’t feel as personal and eccentric as DreamHome (which features the work of individual designers who source from all over the Mart), but there’s a lot to like here. The mood of the rooms is overwhelmingly glam and sexy: rich, touchable fabrics (love the unfinished drapes in the Green room), gold- and metallic-toned colors, curvy furniture. It’s not ’til you get to the last room, an outdoor space designed by Holly Hunt, that straight, modern lines come into play. I really liked the luxe drapery fabric that gets carried over as wallcovering in the Donghia room. My favorite? The C.A.I. bedroom designed by Christopher Guy Harrison—really sexy. Check out this vanity and chair. See it April 25 through July 12.

9 years
ago

 

More Kitchen & Bath


In all my excitement over new things at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, I nearly forgot to mention the new Walker Zanger tile I fell for. This is Sonja’s La Fluer.

9 years
ago

 

Kitchen & Bath Show


I was a bit nervous to go the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show at McCormick Place last weekend. A few years ago, I came home from the expo obsessed with a space-saving microwave/toaster by LG Electronics. I bought it, and it became a sticking point in a subsequent kitchen remodel (I wanted to save it and the designer had to jump through hoops to accommodate it). In the end, it went. I still miss it.
    This year’s show had more to love.
•I guess I have a thing for space savers. This one is a water saver, too: Caravelle’s Caroma toilet with a small sink built on top. I asked a contractor looking at it with me if he’d ever seen such a thing. “Only in prisons,” he said. (A representative for the company said only his and one other company makes them.) But the contractor loved the idea of it for a very small powder room. The water used to wash hands gets re-used to flush the toilet.
American Range’s French door oven. With one hand both doors open, allowing the user to get up close and personal with her roast, instead of having to lean over an open door. Why didn’t someone think of this before?
•Smeg’s retrofabulous refrigerators in tons of fun colors.
•Element Design’s Eluma illuminated backsplash. It’s backsplash and undercabinet lighting in one; LED lights are hidden inside an aluminum-framed glass or acrylic backsplash.
i.Formz by Design Studio which is made with Corian and bent, shaped, molded, and punched out any way you can imagine. The booth at K/BIS displayed some lacy cutout panels that were fantastic.

Things that scared me:
•Liquid stainless steel that you spray on an old appliance to make it look like stainless.
•The “Bloomin’ Bidet.” I refused even to get close enough to it to find out more.
•ProSun’s Sunshower, which allows you to tan as you bathe.

9 years
ago

 

Eye Candy


It was a Willy Wonka moment at the New York International Gift Fair in February that got me going. Not just my usual craving for Kookaburra licorice (have you had?) and Swedish fish, but for the delicious candy-colored glass that spotted and dotted the football fields full of new products, gadgets, and gizmos launched there. The Urchin vases and lighting from Union Street Glass, available locally at Material Possessions, stopped me cold. The “nubs” resemble vintage milk glasses, clearly gone far down the lane from any grandmotherly roots—much more modern, almost edgy. Lemon yellow…yum.  Tangerine…wow. Raspberry red…pow. Always eager to see where trends land moments and months later, a spin around Barneys New York a few weeks ago, showed me that a craving for colored glass was not missed by its buyers. (Check out the floor to ceiling celebration of the stuff!)  Then I spotted the 1930s Argentine seltzer bottles ($150 each) at Jayson Home & Garden, and I’m sold again. Feels right now to add a splash.

Vase photo courtesy Union Street Glass

9 years
ago

 

Diesel for the Home

I just got an invitation to attend a party in Milan on April 16 celebrating the launch of Diesel’s new home collection. Too bad I won’t be able to make it. I think I have lunch plans at Potbelly in the Nordstrom building that day. But, as a proud wearer of Diesel jeans (the same pair from like 1995 or something!), I thought other Diesel fans might want to know that the company is jumping on the interiors wagon. OK, now don’t rush into Diesel tomorrow expecting to buy a perfectly distressed premium-denim sofa—they’re starting with linens this fall and will gradually move into furniture, accessories, and lighting, all of which are sure to embody that company’s devastatingly hip je ne sais quoi.

Photo courtesy Diesel

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