An ornate teapot, decorated with various pictures of Elizabeth Taylor
Tea Partyers

Chiaroscuro is an Art History 101 (or Art in the Dark, as we sleepy undergrads used to call it) term for the use of lights and darks in paintings to create shadows and depth. CHIARoScURO is a fanciful home-furnishing shop tucked next to Macy’s on the second floor of Water Tower, and there’s nothing black-and-white about the collection of artistic creations it has brewed up for the 22nd annual teapot show and sale. Curators have selected more than 70 pots in styles ranging from sleekly modern to quirkily crafty (I’m a little verklempt over this short and stout tribute to Liz Taylor); it’s enough to drive a hatter well mad with envy. Prices go from teeny to steep ($60 up to several thousand), some function while some don’t, and the show will be on view until May 15.

A Chicago bungalow

The Bunga-Lowdown

One of Chicago’s biggest and most popular public home expos is setting up shop at the Merchandise Mart this Saturday, April 9: the Historic Chicago Bungalow and Green Home Expo. (It started in 2002 with a focus on this classic cottage architecture style and the unique issues owners of these dwellings face; it expanded a few years ago to include environmental concerns and resources.) There will be more than 140 exhibitors, artisans, and tradespeople, including Healthy Green Goods, Orange Moon, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the Goodwood Stained Glass Studio. There are a dozen or so workshops going on over the course of the day, and AIA Chicago will be presenting an in-depth hourlong session called “Working With an Architect,” beginning at noon. There will also be six AIA architects on hand from 10–4 to give 15-minute consultations, so bring pictures, plans, and drawings if you have a specific issue to address. Those sessions, just like the Expo itself, are free as a bird.

The Maya Romanoff showroom

Hold the Maya

For more than 40 years, the luxurious fabrics and extraordinarily exceptional surfacing materials (don’t you dare call it wallpaper) made by Maya Romanoff and his eponymous company have been displayed and sold in high-end showrooms, exhibited in museums and design fairs, and even swathed over the facades of buildings (he was known for a time as the “Christo of Chicago”). Last month the Skokie-based company unfurled a permanent home of its own, in a serenely elegant, shimmering showroom carved out of an unwieldly sixth-floor slice of the Merchandise Mart. Chicago-based Design Collaboratives planned the space to wholly embody the Romanoff brand and personality, and did all the heavy lifting. I checked it out recently at a fun cocktail reception (sparkling flutes of prosecco, appetizers shaped like butterflies, mini rootbeer floats . . . you know, my usual Thursday thing), and it’s really something. These are mind-boggling products that really need to be experienced in person to appreciate (think glimmering hand-beaded-glass panels, whisper-thin, flexible mother-of-pearl veneers, gold-leafed layers), and now I am happy to report that they have a suitable Mayan palace in which to do that.

A seder plate from the museum shop at the Spertus Institute

Passover begins at sundown on April 18 this year, so it’s crunch time if you want to class-up your Pesach game with some new seasonal tableware or linens, kids. The museum shop at the Spertus Institute has once again stocked an impressive selection of seder plates, silk-embroidered matzah covers, and glassware, so you can ditch the dusty tchotchkes and set that place for Elijah with pride and honor. In addition to some heirloom-level Michael Aram pieces, it has limited edition works such as this scrolled nickel-plated brass beauty ($225) by Liz Ross. Seders can run long sometimes, so pick up some fun stuff like matzah-print napkins and yarmulkes, or a Moses action figure to keep the troops engaged. The shop, located at 610 South Michigan Avenue is open Sunday through Wednesdays, from 10–5, and Thursday from 10–6.