The 'Amancalama' chair by Gary Lee
Seating Chart

Last fall’s first-ever Chairs for Charity event lured more than 200 fun party people to the Tile Gallery, and raised about $10,000 for Designs for Dignity. This year’s event is taking place at an even larger venue, Chicago Art Source, (1871 N. Clybourn Avenue) on Nov. 2 from 6–8:30 p.m., with proceeds earmarked for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Fifteen esteemed designers, including Morlen Sinoway, Matthew Lew, Frank Fontana, Greg Jagmin, and Summer Thornton, have taken vintage seats and transformed them into one-off works of (functional) art, to be auctioned off on Wednesday evening. Pictured here is one of my faves, by Gary Lee and associates, called “Amancalama.” (I have no idea what that title means, but I’m guessing something like “vintage Platner chair tricked out with one of Beyoncé’s old weaves.”) Tickets are $35 and must be purchased in advance. Food will be provided by the heavily hyped and much-anticipated Nellcôte, a flashy new resto that’s opening soon in the old Marché space on West Randolph. Check out what chef Jared Van Camp plans to personally serve at C4C: shellfish-porcini soup, squab-pumpkin-foie gras terrine with gingerbread, and halibut brandade with blood oranges, beets, and pistachios. Save me a seat!

A table designed by Dining by Design

Recipe for Success

1 extra-large handful of locally grown interior designers, furniture makers, commercial artists, fashionistas, and architects, dedicated to funding HIV/AIDS efforts (DIFFA brand preferred)

28 heaping tablespoons of tabletop and dining room tableaux (served on the eighth floor of the Merchandise Mart)

3 Chicago design schools, with students mentored by the likes of Maria Pinto and Alessandra Branca

3 plump days of cocktails, viewings, auctions, raffles, and tastings

A soupçon of Heffernan Morgan–designed lounge areas

Move and shake all ingredients together with vim and vigor; season with humor, drama, and sex appeal; bake at hotter-than-hot for at least 15 minutes; and turn out next week’s Dining by Design soufflé, DIFFA’s most successful fund raiser (close to $6 million since its inception). This year there are lots of opportunities to sample the show, from a cocktail party Thursday night, to a “table hop and taste” event Saturday during the day, followed by a gala dinner. Prix fixe ranges from $10 to $500. Peruse the menu of activities and plan your visit here. (The table pictured is Richard Abrahamson’s creation from last year.)

Serves thousands.

A Happy Halloween poster

Tricks and Treats

Halloween isn’t much of a foofaraw in France, but that didn’t stop the Chicago French Market from hosting a costume party and pumpkin carving (for adults) and decorating (for les enfants) contests this Saturday, October 29, from 10:00 till noon. The French Market opened this 15,000-square-foot Metra station marketplace a few years ago at 131 North Clinton Street, and it’s become a popular place for commuters to grab a quick lunch or pick up prepared foods and produce from the 30-some individual specialty vendors that have been invited to lease stalls. There are also some locals selling home items, such as Abbey Brown Soaps and Les Fleurs cut flowers and arrangements, and cheese, beer, and wine merchants. The Halloween scene is free (reserve a pumpkin by RSVPing to, and there’s trick-or-treating around the market, starting at 11:30.

A canary powder-coated-steel Watt table lamp

20/20 Vision

The Minneapolis-based design firm Blu Dot is in the midst of its annual 20 days of 20-percent-discounts sale, so clearly, now’s the time to focus on shopping for mod angular furniture, sleek shelving options, and colorful lighting (like this canary powder-coated-steel Watt table lamp, reduced to $160 from $200; available in black or white and in a loftier floor-lamp version as well). Shop online or at local retailers I.D. (which can also hook you up with some eye-catching specs) or EuroFurniture. The sale continues through November 8.

A shot of the cast of 'The Royal Tenenbaums' in a pink room

Make Room for Color

Did you get inspired by our September/October color issue to slap scarlet paint on your dining room walls, or bust out the burgundy in your boudoir? If so, have I got a contest for you. The ever-stimulating blog Apartment Therapy is taking entries for its Room for Color 2011 contest, sponsored by the patrician paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball. Through November 8, submit snaps of your colorful kitchens and dashing dens (big or small, traditional or avant-garde), and you could win a chunk of more than $4,800 in prizes. Contestants get whittled down by online voting up until November 23, so it’ll behoove you to work those social-media skills LIKE there’s no tomorrow.

Children's items from The Red Balloon

Up, Up, and Away

One of the best local kids’ shops, The Red Balloon, has just kicked off its fall warehouse sale at 1940 North Damen Avenue (believe me, moms storm this place like architects at a Luminaire sale), and bargains on clothing, furniture, blankies, pillows, and toys for your mini-mes will continue through Saturday, October 29 at 5 p.m. You won’t be getting Red Balloon’s typically free, distinctive giftwrap services with your purchases here, but with those said purchases starting at $5, I don’t think you should have a tantrum about that.