Chicago artist Riggs Barr
Man of Steel

I’m kinda-sorta looking for a new sofa, so stopped by Urbanest to check out its new(ish) space, a few storefronts south of the original location on Clark Street, to see if inspiration would hit. Didn’t fall in love-at-first-couch this visit, but I was impressed by some big-boned metal tables made of repurposed iron grates by Chicago artist Riggs Barr, who mostly creates custom furniture and sculpture for residential and retail clients but also sells some one-off pieces through local shops (He’s currently doing some pieces for Sawbridge Studios, and will be having a one-man show at the 3rd Coast Café beginning in October.) Urbanest has always devoted some showroom real estate to showcasing artists and craftsmen in addition to selling ecologically sound flooring options, smart lamps, accessories, and rugs, and upholstered pieces. Barr’s work, which he markets under the company name of Riggo Design, fits in nicely, and I like his affable approach to custom design projects. Tell him what you want, think you want, and definitely don’t want, and he’ll come up with some no-cost, no-obligation sketches and meet with you to discuss in person. A 50-percent deposit gets the ball rolling. Reach Riggs at, or 773-209-1093.

Interior of the Lakeview Pantry

Fellini Fiesta

The folks at Susan Fredman Design Group love a good party, almost as much as they love creating knock-out interior spaces, and boy, do they know how to throw good parties. The firm also strongly believes in giving back to the community by providing pro bono design work for nonprofits, prettying up sites for such diverse groups as Gilda’s Club, Catholic Charities, Howard Brown, and the Lakeview Pantry (pictured here) through Designs for Dignity, an organization Susan founded more than ten years ago. One of D4D’s big annual fundraising events is October’s walkabout through stylish Harbor Country kitchens, but that’s not for some time still. In anticipation of the fall fun, the group is kicking off with a La Dolce Vita–themed cocktail party at Artemide’s River North showroom tomorrow, from 5:30–8:30. Admission is $20, which includes cocktails, antipasti, and five raffle tickets. (Tip: If you’re going to be joining the kitchen walk on October 16, buy your $75 tickets now and you can attend Thursday’s sweet soiree for free.)

Pink, red, and white tile geometric tile pattern by Dwell Patterns

Dwell on It

Heath, the earthy mid-century ceramic tile and pottery factory founded by designer Edith Heath in Sausalito, California, more than 55 years ago, sure plays well with others. It has partnered with like-minded designers and artists such as Alice Waters (of Chez Panisse restaurant fame) to produce lines of home accessories, and now it has joined forces with Dwell magazine visionaries to create a swell little line of angular geometric tiles, called Dwell Patterns. There are only three shapes, but it’s astonishing how they can be arranged in playful optical patterns, and they can be custom glazed in any of Heath’s colors. They are available locally at Ann Sacks and cost between $24 and $48 per square foot. Learn all about them by watching this jazzy little stop-motion video.

Ceramic Mao and friends statue at The Golden Triangle

Mao For Less

The big sidewalk sale at The Golden Triangle commences tomorrow, and you can take advantage of 25–60% savings on a large selection of Asian furniture and accessories through August 21. Dozens of items are viewable online with before and after pricing, like this kitschy ceramic Mao and comrades statue (reduced to $154 from $385). There will be great deals on items at all price points, as Golden Triangle carries a wide variety of antiques and rarities as well as objects of more recent vintage. As a parking perk in this congested River North neighborhood, drivers can leave their cars for up to an hour in the lot, just steps from the front door.

Decorative bowl by Fred Follansbee

Crop of Artists

Gethsemane Garden Center has been nurturing plants for years with great success, there’s no argument there. This weekend it has decided to apply those green thumbs to nurturing some artists, by throwing the first annual Gethsemane Art Fair on the company’s grounds. Almost 80 creatives in fields from painting and sculpture to photography and textile art will be manning booths spread throughout the complex, Saturday 10–5, Sunday 10–4. The piece pictured here is by participating ceramicist Fred Follansbee.