A one-of-a-kind bench designed by David Stine
One-Off Showoffs

The outdoor art fair, craft festival season is sadly over now that the weather is skewing frightful, but there are still some delightful indoor opportunities to browse curated collections of handmade furniture, sculpture, jewelry, and apparel. The Merchandise Mart’s One of a Kind show begins tonight and runs through Sunday, and it’s a fine time to pick up some holiday gifts that will never be available at any of your local chain stores. More than 600 artists will be showing their wares at the Mart this year, including Illinois woodworker David Stine (that’s his sinuous wave bench pictured here), and you can also meet artists and visit the Etsy pavilion of online ingénues to pick-it before you click-it. Admission for the show is $12. Another swell indie shopping experience going down this weekend is the Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale, held at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse (1419 W. Blackhawk St.) on Saturday and Sunday. For this fifth incarnation of the fest, there will be more than 150 crafters crafting, food and drink from local eateries, a DJ and free raffle, an ornament-making workshop, and (hold on to your crocheted beanies): free sessions in a retro photo booth! Cool. Do yourself a big favor and don’t drive, as you’ll probably need a fresh haircut by the time you find a parking spot. Take the Renegade trolley that will be running from Division Street, and save some time to Do Division while you’re at it.

The Materious design team and decorated Lions at the Art Institute

Leonine Finery

A lot of Chicagoans who rarely visit the Art Institute during the rest of the year are likely to find themselves clomping up those grand steps with out-of-towners in tow during this holiday season. The menacing stone lions that guard the entrance have some space-age accessories this season, courtesy of the Chicago-based design team Materious. After so many years of wreathing these Leos in traditional evergreen boughs and red velvet ribbons, last year the AIC invited designer Yves Behar to put a modern twist on the process, and his metallic multicolored visions were so well-received that they decided to show some modern love again this year. Materious, the husband-and-wife design team of Stephanie and Bruce Tharp, created these huge, bubbly red solar-powered necklaces inspired by Native American cranberry wreaths and Buddhist wishing trees (each of the 2,011 spheres contain a slip of paper with a wish for the world, written by local schoolchildren). The comely couple’s product designs have been exhibited at Design Within Reach, the Milan Furniture Fair, Judy Saslow Gallery, Ligne Roset, and the Museum of Science and Industry’s Smart Home, and you can pick up their products in the AIC gift shop or online. (I have their Samurai umbrella and boy, do I get looks when it’s raining!) If these beasts could talk, I wager they’d be roaring their approval for this new winter look—so much more dignified than the Blackhawks helmets and Cubs hats they’ve been subjected to in the past.

A chandelier designed by José Thenée

Argentinean Artifacts

To fire up the annual inventory sale at Architectural Artifacts this year, proprietor Stuart Grannen has forged a special exhibit of drawings and objects by the late Argentinean master blacksmith José Thenée, and will be celebrating the iron man at an opening reception tomorrow, December 3, from 5­-9. Argentine wine and tango music will set the mood, and everything in the 80,000­-square-foot store will be reduced 25 to 75 percent until the end of the year.

Diaper cake and other items from Pixie Chicago

Pixie Lust

Chi-Town stationer Pixie Chicago has recently partnered with the Chic Mama company to offer just about the cutest baby-shower gifts I’ve ever seen—almost-want-to-taste-it diaper “cakes” with matching thank-you cards. Pixie’s Cassandra Rippberger is a former ad-agency art director who ditched the nine-to-five a couple of years ago to start her sassy/classy line of cards, stationery, and notepads, which are available at her Etsy shop. Cassie has a full line of thick-stock printed and letter-pressed product available, but she’ll also work with clients to match colors and themes on custom orders. The diaper cakes have been featured on Bethenny Getting Married? (what’s with the pregunta—is she or isn’t she?), and are artfully composed of 60-plus diapers and baby products. Until December 25, Domestica readers can reap a 20-percent discount off any of Pixie’s products by entering the coupon code CHICAGOHOME.

As an endnote, this is the 100th edition of Domestica, and I’d like to thank all of you weekly designaholic readers who have been there from the start, as well as the surfers who stop by for a casual encounter now and then. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about local events, news, sales, and assorted other nonsense as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing it all with you, and I encourage everyone to keep passing along tips, feedback, ideas for items, recipes-any old thing you feel like-I’m there for you. If you haven’t yet subscribed, please do so here. I’m filing this week from an oceanfront café in San Juan, Puerto Rico (“Camarero, another Four Loko piña colada, por favor—I’m on deadline. And this time let’s have it in, oh, how about one of those crazy sawed off coconuts? Gracias very much.”), so please forgive any sunburnt metaphors or sandy sentences. Thanks again for your support and readership, I really appreciate it. Wish you were here!