SOFA, So Good

The world’s artsiest and craftiest are coming to Chicago for this weekend’s 16th Annual Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair (SOFA) at Navy Pier, November 6–8, with an opening night preview party (a reasonable $50 ticket, payable at the door or here on Thursday from 7–9 p.m. This is one of my favorite art shows in Chicago—I guarantee you will see some flashy, jawdropping works of heartbreaking (and eyesight-straining) genius, which makes it a good gateway fair for friends or kids that are a bit put-off by more seriously academic expos. Sixty-eight international gallerists are setting up temporary shop, including lauded locals Ann Nathan, Ken Saunders, Portals, and Perimeter, and there will be five special exhibits on such topics as global glass art, Israeli jewelry, woodturning, and the late Sam Maloof’s elegant California modern wooden furniture (pictured). For the price of a $12-to-$25 ticket you can also take advantage of more than 30 scheduled lectures and workshops, most an hour long.

Thoroughly Modern Dilly

Another fun fall fair that I look forward to every November is Winnetka’s Modernism Show, put on by the Woman’s Board of the Winnetka Community House. This year is the 20th incarnation of the event and it promises to be better than ever, with nearly 50 invited dealers of varied disciplines showing furniture, art, pottery, rugs—you name it—there’s really something here for almost anybody’s taste and budget, with the common denominator being that it dates from 1890–1990. The show opens with a $125 gala preview party on Friday night and continues through Sunday (regular show tickets are $15). Chicago Home + Garden editor Jan Parr will be welcoming early birds on Saturday at a 9 a.m. breakfast and presentation on “Modern by Design,” and four design pros (George Lowell’s George Arduser, Michael Del Piero, Denise Macey, and Susan Kroeger) are making modernism work in on-site, themed room vignettes. The rich nouveau image here is from the Chicago private dealers Century Guild.

Suburban Simitree

If you haven’t been to Geneva lately, I’ll forgive you for not knowing about the rather sophisticated design convention that’s been going on out there over the last few years. As Kane County Market fans know, it’s less than an hour outside of the city. Yes, it’s a scenic vacation spot with charming restaurants and yes, a river runs through it, but the downtown area also has attracted a number of interesting home stores and interior design resources. Sisters Heideh and Haleh Fardi run Simitree, an eclectic shop that they stock with high-end furniture, antiques, gifts, and fine art inspired by their frequent world travels. The sisters Fardi also provide design, upholstery, and staging services, and carry items from the Barclay Butera Home Collection and Kravet. This Saturday they’re having a reception for landscape pastel artist Lynn Krause from 12–4 p.m. The fall colors will be blazing inside and out—why not go west this weekend and see for yourself?

Virtu Reality

Julie Jackson celebrates nine holiday selling seasons at her homey Bucktown boutique Virtu this year, and to mark the occasion she’s paired with local stationer Snow & Graham to introduce its 2009 winter wonder-line of cards, calendars, coasters, and craftpapers this Saturday, Nov. 7, 11–6 p.m. In keeping with all those other “C” words, the shop will be serving chocolates from Moonstruck and donating 10 percent of the day’s sales to the Chicago Food Depository.

Where the Wild Sales Are

Jayson Home & Garden is ready to start the rumpus at its largest warehouse sale ever, this week Friday thru Sunday, Nov. 6–8, 10–5 p.m. each day at its location at 1740 West Webster Avenue (that sprawling brick building at the corner of Elston). Expect all manner of furniture, accessories, lighting, planters, holiday tchotchkes, and vintage finds, all discounted 50 to 90 percent. There are some appealing new perks this time around at  Jayson’s retail rodeo, including free parking next door at the Green Dolphin nightclub, free local delivery, and a 15-percent-off coupon for anything at the main store all weekend.

AIC Savings

It’s double discount week at the Art Institute of Chicago, that rare time of year when member benefits include 20 percent off as much merch as one wants (in person or online) at the museum shops, which have both substantially beefed up their inventory of high-quality home furniture and items since the opening of the Modern Wing last summer. For those kind of deals and with memberships starting at $80 (and regular adult admission now at… gulp…$18), even nonmembers should consider joining, especially with such chic, on-trend offerings as this George Nelson Cigar Lamp (from his 1947 Bubble Collection,  represented in the AIC’s permanent design collection). At $325 each, the savings on a pair will pay for member fees right there. Designaholics will also not want to miss the Arts and Crafts show, Apostles of Beauty, opening Saturday, Nov. 7, which historically presents furniture, textiles, metalwork, and ceramics from A&C VIPs such as William Morris, Gustav Stickley, and Frank Lloyd Wright, drawn from Chicago’s world-class private and public collections.

Moor, Moor, Moor

We espoused the Moroccan trend in the November/December issue of Chicago Home + Garden that just hit newsstands, so it’s timely that one of the outlets we sourced, the recently opened Galerie du Maroc, is throwing a Moroccan Roll party this Friday, 6:30–11:30 p.m., to celebrate the crafts, culture, and cuisine of this richly inspiring African country. The gallery, located at 344 North Ogden, is kicking it Casablanca style (our sister city) with this evening of music, photography, shopping, and film, which also serves as a benefit for the Grameen Foundation, a philanthropic Oprah-endorsed organization that helps sisters do it for themselves by financing and promoting income-generating micro-projects for disadvantaged female business owners. Another benefit? The open-bar party is free—but don’t forget your wallets—20 percent of sales will go directly to the charity.