Bang & Olufsen has always epitomized well-designed, highly functional, jaw-droppingly impressive (and wallet-stretching) audio and visual equipment, pretty much right from its Danish starting gate in 1925. Any savvy production designer looking to conjure up the bacchanalian excessiveness of the 1980s knows to dress the set with a few of B&O’s iconic silver and black instruments, and boom—good to go. The Arlington Heights–based B&O America threw a playful customer appreciation and launch party last week at the River East Art Center, and you can officially color me impressed. The new BeoVision 10 flat-screen TV is a thing of beauty and a marvel of thoughtful design. Skinny-Minnie panel televisions aren’t rare sightings these days, granted, but this model looks chic even when you’ve shut off Ugly Betty. The speakers are behind a cloth cover at the bottom quadrant of the 40-inch front panel, and the aluminum frame is angled and polished on the back as well as the front, allowing it to reflect your wall surface and give the illusion that it’s even thinner than its two-and-a-half inches. It’s proportioned to mimic the dimensions of posters and paintings, and it really doesn’t seem out of place on a wall with other artwork, especially if you swap out that magnetic black cloth cover with one of the available colored ones (orange, blue, gray, white, or silver), creating an ersatz Mark Rothko color-field painting. The glass screen is non-reflective, it can be hinged on either side to swivel, or mounted on the floor and connected to up to five additional speakers. This must-see TV will be available this summer, and starts at $6,248.
There is something so fetchingly fey about these Carrie bicycle baskets the hip home store I.D. Chicago has started to stock, I almost can’t stand it: They look like something Mary-Kate Olson would use to pedal around her behemoth boho bags, backup sunglasses, and venti Starbucks, or to tuck Ashley in and give the waif a lift to her quilting class. The retro, granny style was inspired by crocheted tablecloths that designer Mary-Louise Gustafsson grew up with in Sweden, reinterpreted here in plastic, metal, and nylon. The lacy baskets ($79) come in green, white, and black, and can be detached and toted around by straps, or even flipped upside down to use as a sturdy little picnic table. A shopping basket version is available for $39.
On the way over to meet friends for drinks at Prosecco, an elegant River North resto with sparkling, sophisticated interiors that riff on classic Venetian design (but smell much better), I stopped by Elements’s new next-door neighbor, Jesse. The flagship store for an octogenarian Italian furniture manufacturer, Jesse Spa, it opened last month (see Chicago Home + Garden’s March/April issue for the story); and it’s operated by Home Element, the sprawling furniture and accessory emporium up above the Marshalls at 600 North Michigan. Jesse carries crisply upholstered sofas and chairs, coffee tables, bookshelves, and cabinets, as well as the Jesse lines of closet organizing systems, wall beds, and entertainment units, and it’s all quite reasonably priced—I’d say somewhere between West Elm and Poliform in dime and spirit. Don’t expect cash-and-carry, instant gratification here, however, as most items need to be custom ordered to your specifications. Welcome to the neighborhood, Jesse.
The charming, Francophilic Oak Park home store Careful Peach is moving, and wants you to lend a hand. Pizza and beer have not been mentioned, but they are promising up to 60 percent off everything in the store this month, including French linens, candles, tableware, foodstuffs, and Cote Bastide bath products. The peachies aren’t keen on packing stuff, so they are also selling off almost all of the store fixtures (tables, cabinets, lighting, etc.) to further lighten the load. Tout? Sweet! The store is vacating its current location at 118 Harrison Street and moving to digs at 1024 North Boulevard, right in Oak Park’s historic downtown shopping district.
Rose and Jenny made such a splash with last year’s sample sale at Urban Source, the designing women decided to have at it again this weekend, with even more samples and products for sale. You’ll find designer pillows offered at less than the cost of the fabrics, window treatment displays from the showroom, remnant designer fabrics perfect for small projects, one to five yard pieces of upholstery and drapery fabrics, and even wallpaper rolls. Bring ideas and measurements, since quantities are limited and sales are final. Shop Friday, March 26, 11–7 and Saturday 10–5. Cash only.
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Flower Show
It’s March, which means Macy’s State Street store will be bursting into bloom with its annual flower show, opening Sunday, March 28 and running until April 12. Where last year’s show (pictured) was flamingo themed, over-the-top crazy floral fun, this year they’ve germinated more of a olde-timey, county fair sort of vibe. There will be guided tours of the show conducted by master gardeners, and dozens of cooking demos, kid-friendly activities (Is that a magician?), and musical performances to plan your trip around. If I’m downtown, I like to stroll through just for the smell of it. Some fun trivia regarding this year’s show:
•More than 15,000 potted plants will be covering the flat surfaces on the first floor.
•Martha Stewart’s printed bedding inspired the design of the real hot-air balloon floating around the atrium. (Insert your own Martha Stewart/hot-air-balloon joke here.)
•A custom carpet runner was created, it stretches a full city block long.
•The birdcage in the Walnut Room stands 16 feet tall.
•The oldest plant is a 17-year-old Japanese Maple, and the heaviest root ball weighs 500 pounds.
•The mobile hanging under the Tiffany ceiling is made of 5,000 balsa wood airplanes.
•The signature tree this year is the Purple Prince Crabapple, grown near Peoria—be sure to catch those this year, before fame goes to its head and it changes names to the Crabapple Formerly Known as Prince.