Elegance on the Rocks

This Friday, April 16, the Merchandise Mart opens the doors to its sixth annual DreamHome event, with this year’s theme “Cool Elegance.” Ten local design teams have been assigned rooms ranging in size and intent from the welcome lobby (this year tackled again by Blutter/Shiff Designs, who did such a refined, classic job in 2009) to the great outdoors (handled by Mundelein-based Schmechtig Landscapes). I’ve seen press photos and am beyond intrigued to find out what’s going on in Summer Thornton’s frenzied foyer (pictured here), with its checkerboard floor, malachite wall coverings, ornate rococo mirror, and icy chandelier, an acid-green wingback chair with a racing stripe, and, hold on—is that a fungus among us, over by the windows? Wow. The DreamHome always tries to have something for everyone, but rarely all in one room. The rooms are on the Mart’s first floor, open from 10–5 during the week, 10–3 Saturdays, through December 10, and there is a $5 suggested donation to benefit cancer research. If you want a sneak preview, join co-chairs Chris and Sheila Kennedy at a benefit event for the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation, tomorrow night from 6–9, $180 per couple.

Brackett & Co.

Dandy Andy

Andersonville’s commercial shopping district has just been added to the National Register of Historic Places (along with Mies’s iconic IBM Building), which is a fine feather in the cap of this restaurant-and-home-design-shop-studded strip of North Clark Street (blocks 4900 to 5800 are thus designated, to be specific). There’ll be even more reason to celebrate soon, with the addition of two promising new stores opening next month. Scheduled to debut May 15 in the old Marrakech Treasures spot, 5416 N. Clark, will be Necessary ExTRAVagance, a shop specializing in handmade, generally small-scale home accessories, fabric and ceramic items, and artwork from more than 100 craftsmen. I didn’t slip and hit CAPS LOCK there—one of the co-owners is Travis Gorline—get it? He and partner Kelli Damron both hail from Greensville, Illinois, and have known each other since childhood (their meemaws actually were seamstresses together in the same company). Also coming in May is the second location of an upscale home store, Brackett & Co., located in the former Haus storefront at 5405 N. Clark. (I walked my dog by the other day and there already is a nice display of furniture in the window.) I’ve been impressed by the merchandise at Lincoln Brackett and Tim Heck’s shop in Douglas, Michigan (that’s the Center Street storefront pictured here, right next door to the tasty and handsome Wild Dog Grille), which they opened five years ago, so can’t wait to welcome them to Chicago. We’ll keep you posted.

Jars from Spurlock Antiques & Decorative Arts

Newmark Downs

Art and antiques maven Serena Newmark is closing the retail aspect of her business to concentrate fully on consulting, and to clear the slate, she’s marked down everything at Spurlock Antiques & Decorative Arts 60 to 85 percent. Merchandise is available now for viewing by appointment at 773-525-4204 (or if you’re serious, she’ll bring it to you!); she’ll also be at the warehouse, 1645 N. Francisco Ave., to grant audiences with the inventory in person, from noon to 6:00 p.m. this Friday through Saturday, April 16–18. Love these ginormous jardinieres, which Serena tells me are circa-1900 Chinese and stand 63 inches high, measuring from the wooden stands to the top of the Foo dog–crested lids. They are quite a deal at $1,000 the pair, reduced from $4,000. A fun fact: The jasper slab desk that Jan blogged about in January just sold to the actress Rebecca Romjin, (who was “very sweet and easy to work with,” says Serena) and is now ensconced in her California home.

rPET version of Emeco's aluminum Navy Chair

Emeco Friendly

The Coca-Cola company taught the world to sing, and now they want to encourage the world to recycle. It approached Emeco in 2007 looking for ways to promote reuse of recycled plastic bottles, and the result of the brainstorming session, a recycled polyethelene terephthalate (his friends call him rPET) version of Emeco’s aluminum Navy Chair, will be unveiled today at the Milan furniture fair and available in the States exclusively at Design Within Reach starting in June. You may not know the story behind this famous little perch, but I’m sure you’ve warmed a few over the years in restaurants, hotel bars, and (hopefully not too many) hospitals and prisons. They were originally designed in 1944 for use on Navy submarines, and rumor has it the seat was inspired and molded after Betty Grable’s tuchus. Philippe Stark and Frank Gehry love to use them, and they’ve even starred in a documentary called 77 Steps, filmed by Eames Demetrios, Charles Eames’s grandson (it takes 77 steps to hand-make each one). The new 111 Navy Chair comes in six colors and retails for $230, about half the cost of the aluminum version. Three of the tints (snow, flint, and red) can be used in any weather, so if you’re thinking of getting some classic outdoor seating with a twist, you might want to wait for these sturdy yet lightweight lovelies.