A Boston terrier posing on a chair
Sit, Stay, Win!

Can you persuade your weimaraner to vamp on a Wassily chair? Or coax kitty to strike a pose on that Corbusier couch? If so, you might be able to win some sweet modernist merchandise courtesy of Modernica’s Pets on Furniture contest. The Los Angeles furniture company, which had a Chicago showroom in River North until a few years ago (their former space, at 555 North Franklin Street, now houses the Tile Gallery), wants people to send in pictures of their pets perched on modern furniture for an online voting competition. You could win one of Modernica’s repro Noguchi coffee or dining tables, George Nelson Bubble lamps, or Pierre Paulin’s Easy chairs. You have until the end of January to enter, and the complete rules are here. Make it work!

A scene from 'The Dilemma'

Designed Dilemma

Chicago Home + Garden magazine has saluted the interior design of the West Loop’s Sepia restaurant before, and chef Andrew Zimmerman’s inventive Mediterranean-influenced American cuisine has been heralded from soup to nuts (it was one of 23 Chicago restos awarded stars by the esteemed Michelin Guide last November). Tomorrow it’s going to be in the cinematic spotlight when Ron Howard’s movie The Dilemma opens, because Opie shot several scenes on location there for ten days last summer. The easy-on-the-eyes Jennifer Connelly spent a bunch of time in Sepia’s kitchen preparing for her role as its onscreen chef, and scenes such as this, picturing the restaurant’s dramatic wine wall and Lake Forest’s dramatic Vince Vaughn, have been prominently featured in the film’s trailers (also watch for Smith & Wollensky and the Green Mill—shucks, lots of local haunts, as they were filming here for months). I’ve had dinner at Sepia a few times and can tell you the attention and acclaim is merited. Bring your Dilemma ticket stub in to the restaurant and enjoy a free movie-themed cocktail with dinner. No problem there.

A realistic painting of chocolate cupcakes, by Pamela Michelle Johnson

Art of the Meal

In other restaurant-related design news, local artist Pamela Michelle Johnson will be exhibiting her photo-realist paintings of junk food and participating in J.C. Steinbrunner’s bon vivant Salon Series at 7:00 p.m. this Sunday, January 16, at the Bluebird gastropub in Bucktown. Steinbrunner, an entrepreneur and artist in his own right, plans sit-down dinners where guests interact with artists and designers for lively conversation and not-junky-at-all multicourse meals paired with wine and beer. (Pam’s work was mentioned in a story we published last year on finding art in unexpected places.) Sounds like a nice cozy way to spend an interesting Sunday night, and—at $40 for a three-course meal with sides and booze—a great deal. Reservations go quickly, I’m told, so grab a spot by emailing John at jc@thesalonseries.com. If this week’s event is sold out, don’t fret, there’s a repeat performance on Sunday, January 23, and the work will be up at Bluebird all month for your viewing pleasure.

The Number 36 issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, packaged in a unique box

A Head-Scratching Work of Snickering Genius

Get yourself a subscription to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and you’ll never know what’s going to show up in your mailbox every few months. The issues are always different in design and content, and the latest arrival, Number 36, comes in a 275-cubic-inch treasure chest in the form of a life-sized grinning creepy/friendly man’s head, packed with artist postcards, maps, a tiny scroll of fortunes to cut up and pass out, and illustrated booklets and stories by such heralded indie auteurs as Michael Chabon and Wajahat Ali. It’s just the thing to stick on that bookshelf full of Twilight books and cat-solving murder mysteries, to give your literary reputation a bit of gravitas. McSweeney’s independent publishing house was founded in 1998 by one-time Lake Forest resident (grade school and high school) Dave Eggers, who originally intended to publish only work that was rejected by other magazines. (Reminds me of that Groucho Marx quote, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.”) He hangs with a pretty cool crowd of artists, musicians, designers, and of course, authors. If you want to share some of the scenester cred, you can pick this cerebral head trip up at Quimby’s, Women & Children First, The Boring Store, and other independent bookstores for $26.

Sale signs on vintage suitcases

Damen Departures

A couple of special Bucktown design businesses are readjusting their business plans and leaving the area at the end of January. The eco-maniacal gift shop and home accessories store Grasshopper 510 (the number represents the color green measured in nanometers, in case you’re wondering) will be ditching the brick-and-mortar altogether, to concentrate and expand on its online store offerings. All merchandise is 20 percent off, at least, and will be discounted deeper as the month progresses. And the imaginative Daniels Antiques shop (pictured here), a favorite haunt of designers and set dressers, will be relocating to an as-yet-undisclosed new location. They’ll be open every day from 11–6 until January 31, dishing out 25- to 65-percent discounts.

The Plaza del Lago shopping mall

Crate & Barrel Packs Up

After 40-some years at the picturesque lakeside Plaza del Lago shopping mall in Wilmette, Crate & Barrel has decided to close that location. The lease is ending and they’re leaving del Lago on January 30. This was Gordon Segal’s second store ever, and the first to debut C&B’s line of furniture (we all know how well that venture turned out, huh?). North Shore habituates who think the Crate is great have two nearby options to rely on already—Northbrook Court and Old Orchard have thriving, full-service shops ready to satisfy all your Marimekko-loving needs and entertaining wants.


Photograph: (The Dilemma) Universal Pictures