Martha, Martha, Martha

There are a couple of opportunities to catch Martha Stewart live this Friday, May 1, beginning with her 10 a.m. keynote speaker presentation at the Mart’s International Antiques Fair, where she’ll wax poetic on incorporating storied furniture and accessories into modern milieux. From there, the craftiest ex-con in the world hoofs it over to the State Street Macy’s to do a 1:00 p.m. book signing to promote her hefty new Encyclopedia of Crafts and last year’s Martha Stewart’s Cooking School. (That sweet pick-a-nick basket is from the Martha Stewart Collection, Macy’s exclusive line of housewares, bedding, bath and kitchen items.) RSVP here or at 312-527-6885 for the antique talk; get more info on Martha at Macy’s here or call 312-781-4884.

Interview With an Empire

Seek the Hideout this Friday, 6:30-8:30, for a very special episode of Mark Bazer’s Interview Show, with headliner Nate Berkus—Oprah’s decorator—taking the stage to shoot the breeze with Bazer, a RedEye columnist and drily hilarious guy who also happens to be our senior editor Gina’s hubby. Gina will join the program to discuss her cute new kid’s book, Now Hiring: White House Dog, and there will be a book release party following the show. Author Joe Meno is on the bill as well, and there’ll also be live music and some short films. I’ve been to several of Mark’s quirky Q&A’s and they are always a lot of fun. Get there as early as you can—he’s got a huge following even before you throw Nate in the mix. Admission is $5.

Blanket Statement

Julie Fernstrom’s new home shop, Brimfield, (named for her top-favorite tartan) had a soft opening last week at 5219 N. Clark Street, and I stopped by to check it out. Great stuff, with a Ralph Lauren/cabin-chic vibe. We profiled Julie recently in the magazine—there’s an interesting back story about how she came to be known as the Blanket Lady, importing vintage Welsh woolies to sell at local antique fairs and markets. Her wares and fetching personality attracted local tastemakers like Scout owner Larry Vodak, who had her upholster some vintage chairs in bold blankets, and style consultant Kate Shifrin, who also leads antiquing excursions of favorite hunting grounds through her Come Flea With Me tour company. Their enthusiastic response encouraged Fernstrom to open up this welcome addition to Andersonville’s design drag, and the besties are hosting a cocktail kick-off party at Brimfield and Scout on May Day from 5-9 p.m. Brimfield will be carrying Refined Rustic’s funky Found Object lighting designs and offering Philip Sassano’s design services, and Julie gave me a heads-up on The Cottage, another retail store she’s opening soon at 5644 N. Clark that will focus on painted furniture.

Target Pops Up

The big red circle is coming to Michigan Avenue for a three-day engagement, May 7-9, when Target opens a temporary Bullseye Bazaar in the recently shuttered Freedom Museum space on the ground floor of the Tribune Tower (otherwise known as our office building). The company has had luck with these pop-up promotional stores in New York, but never before in the Midwest. Meant to promote new spring products and celebrate top-sellers, the shop will stock fashion and home design from about a dozen design partners such as Thomas O’Brien bathware and the DwellStudio linens pictured here. Pop in from 10-8 each day.

Big Deal

The southern parking lot at Soldier Field will be transformed into a ginormous yard sale this Saturday for the Big Swap Bonanza, organized by Sally Schwartz, who produces the terrific Chicago Antique and Indie Designer sales over on Randolph Street. For this rambunctious event (there will be food, a celebrity sale section, an appearance by Frank Fontana from Design on a Dime, and a rockabilly band from 10-2) Schwartz courted anyone and everyone with excess baggage and fifty bucks for a tailgate space to be vendors, so expect a bag of the mixed variety. But admission is just $3, and the parking has been reduced to $10 for the day—I think it sounds fun and worth a look-see.

Private Lives

Four top Chicago interior design firms have gotten together to offer a public sale of home décor from their personal collections, much of which has never been up for sale other than trade-only. Tom Stringer, Soucie Horner, Marshall Erb, and Frank Ponterio are stashing stuff at 372 W. Ontario Street, from April 30 to May 3, and promise a lot of one-of-a-kind, rare items as well as high-end furniture, lighting, and rugs. They are donating a portion of proceeds to the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, so help a kid out and buy something.

Snow Day at Primitive

Sensing the downsizing trend in home design, Primitive’s owner, Glen Joffe, has started a series of quarterly in-store invitational events that challenge local designers to create smart, distinctively themed looks for small spaces, using Primitive’s third floor and objects, furnishings, and staff support. First up is Brian Snow of SemelSnow Interior Design, who took the task to heart. “Spaces have to be more flexible now,” he says. “Even though people like the economy of less square footage, they don’t want to sacrifice style.” See what he came up with at an opening reception this Friday, 6-9 p.m.