Spencers’ Gifts

Hobnob with the ninth Earl of Spencer (that would be Charles, brother of the late, lovely Diana, Princess of Wales) at Barrington’s Honquest Furniture for Living, this coming Tuesday, September 8 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Charlie is in town to meet and greet fans of the Althorp Living History collection, a luxe line of home furnishings that are manufactured by Theodore Alexander and sold at Honquest. Nearly half of the 350-piece collection are meticulous replicas of actual furniture that Lady Di and the rest of the Spencer clan acquired and lived with over hundreds of years at Althorp, the family’s Northhamptonshire estate; remaining pieces are Althorp-inspired. Proceeds from the elegant line of case goods, upholstery, and accessories go toward maintaining and restoring the mansion, a project Earl Spencer heads up as caretaker and steward of the estate. (“For more than 500 years,” he says, “the house has looked after the furniture. Now it’s time for the furniture to help look after the house.”) An Anglophilic champagne and hors d’oeuvres reception is followed by a presentation and signings; RSVP to 847-382-1700.

Succulent roll

To the Nines

Mum’s the word at Pagoda Red next Wednesday, September 9, 6:00 till 8:30 p.m., as the Winnetka location throws a Triple Nine Party to celebrate Chrysanthemum Day, a traditional Chinese holiday observed on the ninth day of the ninth month. In ancient China the emperor and his court hung out wearing sprays of dogwood, eating rice cakes, and drinking chrysanthemum wine to ward off bad luck; on the North Shore you can hang out with owner Betsy Nathan, sip chrysanthemum cocktails and snack on savories in the Scholars’ Garden, and shop new arrivals of Asian artifacts and furniture. Get a spot on the guestlist for this nona-night by calling 847-784-8881. The 2009 year provides an extra nine in the equation, obviously meaning it will be an extra-fun party (and that lines for lottery tickets will be off the chain).

Succulent roll

Kiddie Cocktail Chairs

I know I’ve talked about downsized furniture for children before—I can’t help but notice it, actually, as so many of my friends have little ones, plus there is a lot of fun, cute stuff out on the market. Nadeau Imports just unpacked three huge shipments of all sorts of ethnographic furniture and accessories at their Ravenswood showroom-warehouse last week, doubling their inventory, and these small Indonesian bucket chairs caught my eye, especially those with the creamy pastel finishes. They are solid mahogany, about 20 inches tall, come in a light natural stain or assorted painted, distressed colors, and cost a wee $46 each.

Ikea Agitas

Megan and Adam, Chicago Home + Garden’s art directors, raved and blogged recently about items they previewed from the new Ikea catalog, and it was enough to make me want to shuffle off to Schaumburg or take a look at the Bolingbrook location that editor Jan prefers to immediately shop the new offerings and stock up on tealights. There’s more than Baltic birch plywood bent out of shape when it comes to this super Swedish market, however, judging from Internet rumblings. Apparently style critics are all kinds of mad-as-hell, not-going-to-take-it-anymore outraged about the decision the company made to change the typeface in this latest catalog and online. No kidding. After 50 years of the iconic Futura, they’ve switched to Verdana, (a type invented by Microsoft for use on computer screens) and a lot of people think that’s meatballs. I revisited my catalog, and it does have an unfamiliar, vaguely cheap look about it upon closer inspection, but really, a Romanian online petition pleading “Ikea, please get rid of Verdana”? With more than 3,600 signatures, as of Monday night? Crazy.


Buchanan Ball

If this Labor Day weekend finds you up in Michiana’s Harbor Country, you’ll want to detour over to Buchanan, Michigan on Saturday for Nonpareil, an all-day celebration of the burgeoning town’s arts and design offerings. Artists and craftisans will be showing work up and down the town’s historic Front Street; Alan Robandt Vintage and Modern, (pictured here) Thomas Jolly Home and Garden, and Fire Arts are among the home stores hosting receptions; there will be live jazz performances at 7 and 9 p.m.; and the Fernwood Botanical Garden, the Buchanan Museum of Fine Art, and the Buchanan Art Center all have special events planned. This weekend also brings Judith Racht’s 15th annual Outsider Art Fair to Harbert, Michigan (about half an hour east of Buchanan)—there’s definitely a lot of Harbor happenings.