Gold Coast Blossoms

Christine Noelle, who owns the sweetly chic Lincoln Park flower and gift shop Dilly Lily with her sister, Melissa, is not one to rest on her florals. The pair opened Dilly Lily in 1996, and it’s blossomed into a popular go-to florist for creative weddings and events, as well as a source for unusual candles, tableware, and stationery. I’ve gotten several gifts and arrangements from DL over the years, and the packaging and presentation is amazing. Christine has just opened an arty little Oak Street offshoot, Christine Noelle Design, just a few petals west of Clark Street, after a kick-off pre-party in late December. (The store opening was delayed a bit because of a birth in the family…awww…congratulations!) That’s Christine at the festive event with landscape-designer/chef/buddy-of-mine Marcelo Mendonca, who will be teaching some container gardening classes at the new space this summer. Christine plans to offer lots of focused classes, including a timely “Be My Valentine” seminar which will make you a pro at hand-tied Euro style arrangements. Check the site for a full class schedule, and stop by the studio to pick up some blooms for home. It’s cold and gray outside—you deserve a pick-me-up.

Book ‘em, Honquest!

Barrington’s sprawling Honquest Furniture for Living store has a page-turning proposition for dog-eared hosts of area book clubs: Have your meeting in their showroom, so you can concentrate on peeling those pages rather than stressing out about getting your house ready for a group gathering. The home design firm will provide coffee, tea, and sweets, and your group is welcome to use the store’s lunchroom if you want to bring in additional snacks. (Jodi Picoult–cuts? Potato Peel Pie? Up to you.) With 60,000 square feet of space, Honquest could accommodate an amped-up Oprah crowd, but that’s not really what they have in mind. “I was walking around the showroom one day,” says sales and merchandising VP Lori Stengren, “and it occurred to me that we have so many wonderful settings for a club to sit in and discuss a book.” And, presumably, inspire some novel purchases. The store has lots of room settings with cozy nooks, comfy club chairs, and cushy couches to suit little literary liaisons, and they are open to other community group meetings as well, during regular business hours. Call 847-382-1700 for more info or to set up a sit-down.

River Northern Exposure

If you’re at all intimidated by the art world’s perceived buzz-at-the-door policies and highfalutin insider attitudes, or just can’t rally enough to hit the Friday gallery openings, the Chicago Art Dealers’ Association has a great weekend program of Saturday guided tours that has been running successfully for years. Meet at the Starbucks on the corner of Chicago Ave. and Franklin St. at 11 a.m. almost any weekend of the year, and you’ll be trotted around to four or five galleries where you’ll have the opportunity to meet owners and artists. This Saturday is extra special, as one of the featured gallerists, Byron Roche, will be closing his eponymous space at the end of February, and is inviting the public to celebrate the gallery’s 16 years at a reception from 11‑6:00. He’ll be featuring the meditative abstract paintings of Michael Hoffman and the metal-leafed landscapes of Paul Hunter (shown here), as well as a collection of items from his personal collection, including Mission furniture and folk art. Byron is an interesting, friendly guy with more than 25 years in the art world (and some time prior to that as a folk musician), and will continue to be an active art dealer, representative, consultant, and lecturer—just not with a public space anymore. The other art emporiums on this week’s walk are Ken Saunders glass gallery, Jennifer Norback Fine Art, and Addington.

Hot-Blooded Murmur

Multidisciplinary designers T.J. Thomas and Audra Bielskus have opened a Chicago-based design firm with some grave street cred. Literally. Bielskus, a Chicago native, and English, who hails from Michigan, met while working for Michael Graves in Princeton, New Jersey, and were part of a small team that designed all the trappings (including fixtures, linens, lighting, and furniture) for a hotel-casino complex that will be opening later this year in Singapore. The pair plans to work with local designers and national manufacturers to develop the same wide range of products with a simple and contemporary esthetic, from its Chi-town HQ, Studio Murmur. “We want our products to help you celebrate the everyday joys of living, working and playing.” says Thomas. “Life gets complicated very quickly out in the world and objects have the power to act as touch points; things that reconnect you daily with yourself, your family, and the important things in life.” Amen to that, T.J! Studio Murmur has a line of outdoor furniture coming out this year in collaboration with Minnesota’s Loll Designs, and locally made pieces such as this solid maple and veneer Low Table will be available through the studio.