It’s mid-June, so that means the Merchandise Mart and River North in general will be taken over by attendees of one of the biggest international design trade shows in the world, NeoCon, running June 14–16. The fair is not open to the public, but that doesn’t mean industry outsiders can’t take advantage of some ancillary exhibits and parties that pop up for the occasion. Morlen Sinoway’s Guerrilla Truck Show is one of the zaniest, energetic events of the week, and a uniquely Chicago happening that makes me proud to be a part of this city’s design community. Morlen, a furniture designer and home-design-shop proprietor, came up with this renegade concept six years ago (Chicago Home + Garden was an early supporter/sponsor), and it’s definitely the place to be next Tuesday night from 5:30 p.m. till, oh, let’s say 9 p.m. (but the party tends to linger on, so you’ll want to clear your Wednesday morning calendar, trust me). Independent furniture designers and artists pull U-Haul trucks up to the docks along Fulton Market, and the public is invited to check out the goods and nosh and slosh with DJs and live music for ambience. If you don’t have a good time and see some fantastic new indie design, I’ll personally give you a full refund (admission is free). Head over to 1052 W. Fulton Market to begin, and call 312-432-0100 with questions.
The action over on Fulton won’t be just on the docks, however, as lots of other neighborhood galleries and studios have special NeoCon-nected doings planned for Tuesday night. Studio Murmur and Loll Designs will be introducing their No.9 Collection of smart outdoor furniture made from recycled HDPE (high-density polyethylene) at a reception hosted by the Ugly Step Sister Gallery from 6–8:00 p.m. (RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org) I blabbed about this collaborative venture earlier in the year, and am psyched to see the goods in person. Murmur’s T.J. Thomas told me the collection has just been picked up by Room & Board, and will be available exclusively through them in eight bold colors (this lounge chair is expected to retail for $599). The consortium of Chicago furniture designers known as Object Society will also be kicking off its second annual members’ exhibition of new works at a party in the gallery at 217 N. Carpenter Street from 6–10 p.m., with sustenance from hot boîtes Avec and Publican and live music, so of course you’ll want to stop in and see what that’s all about while you’re in the hood.
When fine artists and commercial designers pair up with furniture makers, the results can be inspired (Philippe Starck and Kartell, come on up here and say a few words!) or can skew south and quickly end up on forlorn Target sale shelves at the end of the aisles. The McLaughlin Collection, a furniture company known for its acrylic and Lucite artistry, has teamed with Dallas-based fine art photographer Richard Bettinger to create these spunky C Table side tables, and I think they really clicked. The images play with light and speed at different exposures, and the tables come in a milky opaque white or an inky black (all recycled and conscientiously crafted) Lucite. You could slip one up under the sofa for sudoku support, or pair a couple of these parentheses together for a more emphatic visual phrase. Getting art incorporated into furniture is a swell decorating idea (plus you’ll free up some wall space for that bazillion-inch 3-D flatscreen you’ve been eyeing). The C Tables are available locally to the trade at the Mart’s David Sutherland Showroom, and each will set you back 25 C-notes.
Former Martha Stewart style editor and HDTV’s Top Design contestant Eddie Ross (the perky prepster of the Popped-Polo-Collar, Season-Two-Finalist Rosses, ‘member?) is coming to Illinois next week for some collaborative sharing and caring with landscape-design maven and antique dealer Debra Phillips’s Scentimental Gardens (a Chicago location of this store is opening at 1822 W. Grand Ave. on June 19). The two tastemakers will be hosting an evening of budget- and time-sensitive entertaining and decorating tips on Thursday, June 17 at the tony Dunham Woods Riding Club in Wayne, Illinois, (tickets are $65) and Ross will also be making an appearance at the grand opening of Debra’s new city location at 1822 W. Grand Avenue on Friday, June 18 at 6:00 p.m. (that event is on the house, but RSVP to 630-232-1303). For even more Eddie-fication, stop by the Randolph Street Market on Saturday, June 19, where Ross will be dishing design at 11:00 a.m.