The second epic season of Showtime’s lavish Renaissance series The Borgias starts up on Sunday, and I can’t think of anyone who isn’t excited about hooking up with that crazy back-stabbin’, arsenic-sprinklin’ papal family for round two (other than a few Medicis and Sforzas, perhaps). I love the sets, the music, the scale, and the costumes, even if it is hard to tell those guys apart when they’re all rocking their red graduation gowns. The network has teamed up with the online vintage dealer V&M for a celebratory Borgias launch contest, inviting ten designers in ten cities to design high-end shop windows using Borgia-adjacent themes such as power, faith, love, opulence, revenge, and sin. For Chicago, they asked Lukas Machnik (pictured at his installation) to pontificate on envy at MaxAlto’s furniture showroom in River North (309 West Superior Street). Vote for your favorite window online, and you might win a luxe Venice trip and $5,000 to spend at V&M.
I recently replaced some luggage that’s been in my closet since before the Y2K scare, but now that I’ve seen the 11-piece line of baggage designer Dror Benshetrit has done for Tumi, I’m having a little buyer’s remorse. Look how sharp and smart this adaptable hard-case carry-on ($595) is, for example. It can morph into four different size options, and is sheathed in a tough new onyx weave of Tumi’s trademark ballistic material——light, yet rugged. Aside from having a very cool name (how is he not a superhero?), Dror has won scads of design awards, has furniture and objects in major museum collections, and works with top-drawer clients such as Maya Romanoff, Bentley, Alessi, and Swarovski, as well as more populist retailers Target and Levi’s. The Dror for Tumi goods are going to be unveiled April 16 at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, but you can already start shopping online or at Tumi stores.
Reel Good Design
The annual Architecture & Design Film Festival is coming back to Chicago next week with a fresh lineup of 33 films, new speakers and events, and a different venue. Mingle with a fun, thinky group of design-world movers, shakers, and builders at the Music Box Theatre, April 12–16. For an $11 ticket you can see one of 15 programs made up of four films (relax—they range in length from three to 93 minutes, and each program runs only about an hour and a half). Some promising pics include a James Franco–narrated film about Charles and Ray Eames (pictured), an opera inspired by architect Louis Kahn, Lioness Among Lions, about designer Zaha Hadid, Three Walls, a short about the development of the office cubicle, and American Homes, an animated history of 1,800 years of residential architecture. Also on the agenda this year (for Friday, April 13, 8:30–10 p.m.) is something called a PechaKucha night; a free and free-for-all presentation format that involves designers and architects showing 20 slides of a recent project, and discussing each of them for 20 seconds. The concept started in Tokyo in 2003, and was named PechaKucha after the Japanese expression meaning chitchat (not to be confused with pikachu, the Chelsea Handler expression meaning lady parts).
What’s the Big Deal?
All homeowners and apartment dwellers want to accentuate the positive spaces and eliminate the negative chi from their environs, that’s a no-brainer. For those of us with smaller living spaces, it can be a challenge to maximize storage and keep things tidy (think about it: If you live in Downton Abbey you can stash your leftover wrapping paper and seasonal cookie-cutters in a spare room, shut the door and never deal with them, but if you live in a studio apartment, one single pile of take-out menus on a counter can be as alarming as Betty Draper getting out of a bathtub in a fat suit on Mad Men.) Sarah Susanka is a British architect who has thought a lot about “better not bigger” (she wrote the popular Not So Big House book series, and designed an efficient model townhouse in Libertyville that embodies her philosophy), and she’ll be appearing at the downtown Room & Board next Wednesday, April 11 from 6–8 p.m. to discuss these and other projects. Light refreshments will be served, and it’s free if you RSVP.
There’s another event at Room & Board this Saturday (the company has been working overtime to step-up its program of special in-store events and parties), just in time for Sunday’s brunches, Cadbury eggs, and basket hunting. Event-planner, store owner, ABC-7 style contributor, Safeway spokesperson, and soon-to-be author Debi Lilly (that’s a Peep-load of bonnets to wear, girl!) will be onboard Saturday, April 7 from 1–3 p.m. at the 55 East Ohio Street location to offer tips, tricks, and trends pertaining to alfresco entertaining. She’ll also introduce R&B’s 2012 outdoor collection of furniture, fireplaces, and accessories. ‘Tis that season.
I’ve always had a fondness for Georg Jensen’s graceful Scandinavian silver and crystal merchandise, and not only because my mother’s maiden name was Jens—RATS, now I have to change all my passwords. The company is in the midst of its popular spring cutlery promotion, so if you’re itching to trade up on your tableware, April is the month to get cooking, at area stores or online. Buy eight sets of any five-piece setting, including this hefty mirror-polished Bernadotte pattern, and you will get two additional sets for free. The Bernadotte eaters were designed in 1939 by Prince Sigvard Bernadotte, and retail for $120 a set.