Geneva Convention

Baby, it’s cold outside, but that’s no reason to hibernate. How about a road trip? There’s big doings going on this week at Winterfest in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (about 75 miles from downtown Chicago), a popular vacation spot which has recently spawned a surprising number of home design stores and galleries. Philip Sassano, of Chicago’s Refined Rustic design studio, recently hung a shingle in the 262 area code, and is excited about the event. “There are so many new home décor and design stores that have opened up here in the past year, and that’s definitely changed the way people think of the area,” he says. “It used to be a town filled with T-shirt shops and tourist attractions, but it’s transforming back into the fine lifestyle destination of its founding.” That’s a Refined Rustic drink stand, repurposed from some high school track numbers, pictured here. Local stores and restaurants will be offering discounts, and there’s an impressive national snow sculpting competition going on, so buckle up and check it out—they expect between 20,000 and 30,000 people to visit before Super Bowl Sunday.

Playboy Perch

Mad Men’s Bryan Batt, a.k.a. Salvatore Romano, has designed a loveseat to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Chicago’s Playboy Clubs, and it’s pretty damn sexy. The gray mohair sofa with rosewood side panels and nail-head detailing was unveiled this week in Las Vegas, and is available exclusively through Batt’s New Orleans shop, Hazelnut. “The Hef,” as it’s called, will be hand-signed by Mr. Hefner and produced in a limited edition of 50 pieces, and will set you back $15,000.

Adopt a Dot

The Chicago Art Institute has one of the most clever fund-raising campaigns I’ve ever heard of, point-blank. They are offering the opportunity for people to adopt one of the painted pointillist pinpricks on Georges Seurat’s beloved masterpiece, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Ten bucks will get you one of the six available colors, pick three for $25, or get the entire spectrum for $50. All donors receive a pin in the selected color and a card indicating the location of your own private polka-dot on the 125-year-old canvas. It’s a cute, giftable idea for crafty kids who are sure to get a kick out of finding their dots, or a little bouquet of dots would also make an interesting Valentine’s Day present, period. February is free admission month at the Art Institute, so it’s a great time to warm up and check out the Modern Wing, or revisit some old favorites. There are a lot of eclectic (and free) lectures going on in conjunction with their 500 Ways of Looking at Modern program, including some on African and Chinese art that caught my eye.

Panel Discussion

In addition to creating funky T-shirts, art prints, posters, and iPhone covers, local printing powerhouse Threadless now also offers the opportunity to purchase the large paintings that in-store artist Joe Suta creates weekly to decorate the store windows at 3011 North Broadway and 1905 West Division Street. Suta usually creates three 48" by 36" pieces every week, based on mash-ups of winning designs the company has in production, and they are yours for the reasonable price of $250 each, plus shipping. That’s a lot of bang for the buck, and there is an eclectic selection of styles and themes (heavy on bold, pop-art designs). If you have culinary aspirations, here’s a chance to win some $50 Threadless gift certificates. Submit a meat or meatless chili recipe to by 10:00 a.m. this Friday, Feb. 5, and if you’ve got the stellar stews you’ll advance to the Super Bowl contest where you can also win $100 from