Good Things, Small Packagers
Glittering new office buildings and headline-grabbing high-rises (Vince Vaughn bought what?! Where?!) are all fun and dandy to read about, and bring welcome attention to our city’s storied architectural history, but the American Institute of Architects’ Chicago chapter is homing in on more intimate endeavors with its first annual Small Firm/Small Project Awards. Submitted projects come from area firms with less than ten licensed architects, and awards will be doled out to two winners in each of two categories (objects like furniture, fixtures, birdhouses, etc., produced for less than $50,000, and structures that kept the budget under $500,000). The entries will be on display and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and reception tomorrow night at Architectural Artifacts, from 5:30 to 8:30. It’s free to attend, but please RSVP by the end of today to firstname.lastname@example.org. Residential architects will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice, and attendees can snag a 25-percent discount off any one store purchase and sample local artisanal whiskeys from Ravenswood’s Koval Distillery. Chicago Home + Garden’s editor, Jan Parr, is one of the judges (of the projects, not the hooch—although I bet she’ll have a few thoughts on that as well!). This charming retreat, in the competition, was built by John DeSalvo Design.
NeoCon, the international design trade show that attracts more than 40,000 industry professionals to the Mart, is coming to town next week, and with it comes a plethora of openings, receptions, and cocktails, all over the city. Our people love a good party, and it’s a cinch to fill up your dance card, starting Monday. One of the most energetic events is the Guerrilla Truck Show, a fun Fulton Market event that was started by Morlen Sinoway seven years ago to showcase young furniture and object designers in the neighborhood. It has grown to be quite a beast, with close to 40 trucks temporarily housing indie makers, including Strand Design, who will be introducing this Iceberg light. “It’s going to pretty much blow your socks off,” says Sharon Burdett, who owns the company with her husband, Ted. I have Strand’s Good Dog desk light, which I love, so am excited to see the new products. The GTS happens Tuesday, June 14, from 5:30 till 9:30 p.m. While you’re in the neighborhood, visit the Object Society’s exhibition of furniture and lighting crafted by 13 designers, at 950 West Fulton Market. Those spunky hipsters will be keeping the party going until ten.
These days it’s easy to take inexpensive, good, mass-market, utilitarian design for granted, thanks to the efforts of retailers like Target and Ikea. The objects we look at, use, and experience on a daily basis have a profound effect on mood and quality of life. (I have no problem shelling out the bucks for a great-looking toothbrush I’ll be dealing with day-in-day-out, or paying a premium for a sleek dish-soap dispenser that’s going to be sitting on the counter in plain view, if they make me smile a little bit on the inside. Andy Warhol got this, in spades, and celebrated the mundane—it worked out pretty well for him.) But it wasn’t always this way, especially not in Eastern Europe, and the Art Institute is driving that point home with its new “Avant-Garde in Everyday Life” exhibition, opening Saturday and running through October 9. Curators have put together a scholarly showing of more than 300 items from the museum’s holdings, focusing on work by six revolutionary artists and industrial designers who believed in the transformative powers of egalitarian art, such as El Lissitzky, Gustav Klutsis, and Ladislav Sutnar, whose porcelain tableware is pictured here.
The Odegard rug company is popping up in Lincoln Park for a five-day temporary sale at 2831 North Clark Street beginning June 15 (shop 10–7 that Wednesday, then 10–6 thru Sunday). Stephanie Odegard rolled out her eponymous, socially conscious company to introduce the hand-knotted rugs of Nepal to a wider audience, but has since expanded to include accessories and furniture, such as this glittery silver Raj chair. Expect up to 70 percent off retail prices.
At the end of the 19th century, the Prairie Avenue district on the near South Side was the most hoity-toity hood in Chicago, serving as the home base for such local dynasties as the Armours, the Pullmans, and the Fields. It wasn’t until a Belle Époque Bertha Palmer built her mansion on the Gold Coast that the upper crusties started migrating north, eventually leaving “Millionaire’s Row” in a bit of a funk. The area has undergone a pretty remarkable renaissance in recent years, with sparkling new condo buildings going up and ambitious historical renovations taking place. You can see for yourself this Sunday, June 12, as the Glessner House Museum throws its popular walking tour of seven not-so-little homes on and around the Prairie. The $50 admission also grants access to the Clarke House and the historic Second Presbyterian Church, and the 1–4 p.m. event begins and ends at the Glessner House itself, 1800 South Prairie Avenue. Reservations are suggested; RSVP to 312-326-1480.
If overambitious spring cleaning got you thinking about how life would be much easier with chic, proper storage, Ligne Roset has a nine-day sales event kicking off this Saturday that can hook you up with a place for everything so you can put everything in its place. The modern French furniture company is offering a 20-percent discount off all new cabinetry orders, including bookshelves, TV units, sideboards (J’adore this glossy red lacquered console from the Lines line, starting in the neighborhood of $3,600), and even dining and occasional tables. Ligne Roset is a family-run company that is perhaps best known for those spongy, pleated Togo chairs and sofas designed by Michel Ducaroy in 1973 (super-comfy, really), but they’ve been around since 1860 and started out selling bentwood walking sticks. The Chi-town showroom is located at 440 North Wells Street, in River North.
Goods to Go
The rapidly expanding HomeGoods chain (325 national locations thus far, but what time is it again?) is bringing its gallimaufry of garden and home-design merchandise to the Magnificent Mile, opening a large store at 600 North Michigan Avenue this Sunday, June 12. Some snub the decidedly non-curated collections at HomeGoods and can’t get past the agglommerations of fake flowers, but I have to say, more than a few designers have told me they love to swing by and scope the stock, and I’ve personally found some treasures from Jonathan Adler and other high-end lines on HomeGoods shelves. You never know what to expect, and that’s part of the charm of it—an aspect the corporation embraces (there is no online shopping, and they encourage people to send in pictures of their finds). Doors open at 8:00 a.m.
Photograph: (Small Project house) John DeSalvo/David Robert-Elliot