West Side Story
Grand Avenue will be closed to traffic from Damen Avenue to Wood Street this weekend for Design Harvest, a street fair focusing on home furnishings, mostly of the vintage or handmade variety. More than 50 vendors will be taking it to the streets from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. in this nicely nascent design district, including faves such as Wright Auction, MCM Grand, UrbanSource, and Morlen Sinoway, as well as indie furniture makers Bladon Connor and Jason Lewis (that’s Jason’s console pictured here; he’ll be showing that in his booth). It sounds like a hee-haw of a good time, too, with a live bluegrass, folk, and jazz music program presented by the Hideout. Organizer Angela Finney-Hoffman of Post 27 told me they’ll be putting large tents up (so rain or shine, we’ll be fine) and creating courtyard areas with bales of hay and vintage blankets for people to set a spell and enjoy themselves. There will be sustenance from MANA Food Bar and a Lulu B. wine-tasting tent, and Chicago Home + Garden’s booth (kitted out by West Elm and Sprout Home) will be hosting consultations with some big-deal Chicago designers, so bring swatches and photos if you’ve got interior issues. Meet our staff, as well—I’ll be hanging out on Sunday afternoon, 3–5:00-ish, so come on by and say howdy.
Four on the Floors
There’s a lot going on at the Merchandise Mart this weekend, including celebrity appearances and the debut of a new, modern pavilion at the (returning) International Antiques Fair. Carter Oosterhouse of HGTV’s Carter Can and Red, Hot and Green will be the keynote speaker for LuxeHome’s open house on Saturday, Oct. 2, at 10:30 a.m. in the north lobby, waxing poetic on practical ways to renovate your home while increasing its value (the lecture is free; register for a spot here. The open house runs from 10–3 and features more than 30 luxe kitchen and bath boutiques on the first floor, with music, hospitalities, and cooking demos. The Antiques Fair upstairs, running Oct. 1–4, also has attracted some design-star power with the brothers Leigh and Leslie Keno of Antiques Roadshow, who’ll be kicking-off the show with a talk at 10 a.m. tomorrow (RSVP aqui) The fair features designer vignettes (Cannon Frank’s behind the overall vision), and a hip new hangout, Emporium, which is concentrating on urban-flavored antiques from dealers specializing in the 19th and 20th centuries. Keep the aspirational juices flowing with a stroll through the ten rooms of DreamHome, which is extending hours to take advantage of all the increased Mart foot traffic.
Look, Muffy, a Book-Signing for Us!
In the 1980s The Official Preppy Handbook changed my life, and had a cherished spot on my cinderblock bookshelves for many years, giving me the conviction to wear kelly-green cords, mix plaids, and use a lobster crate as a coffee table. (Although I draw the line at duct-taping my Top-Siders when they start flapping apart—preppies are thrifty, but I’m not about to fall on my face while hustling at an Hèrmes sample sale or rocking out at a Vampire Weekend concert, thanks very much.) So I was over-the-moon to hear that Lisa Birnbach, with the stylish help of book-jacket-designer/author Chip Kidd, has come out with True Prep, an updated etiquette guide with practical advice on everything from the civility of handwritten notes in an electronic age, to the way the right sort of people appoint a mudroom, to how to mix a top-drawer bloody mary. The current design trends of monogram-mania, needlepoint, and taxidermy as well as the popularity of stores such as Jonathan Adler, Branca, Tory Burch, and Brimfield lead me to believe that Miss Birnbaum has picked an opportune time to reach a receptive new audience. She’ll be celebrating the book’s publication on Tuesday, October 5, from 6–8 p.m. at the Michigan Avenue Brooks Brothers, and you can request an invitation here.
After the heartbreaking and devastating January earthquake in Haiti last year, President Clinton’s foundation urged American businesses to help rebuild that country’s shattered economy and infrastructure. Remember footage of buildings just crumbling like houses of cards? I have friends with family there, and we spent some edgy days before hearing that everyone was okay. Macy’s, who has partnered with global artist communities in the past (notably those of Rwanda—the massive retailer and Rwandan weavers are in the fifth year of collaboration on baskets for export), stepped up to the plate and set up a similar program in Haiti, working with native artisans to create a collection of home design handicrafts to sell in 25 Macy’s stores, including Chicago’s State Street location, beginning in October. The ceramics, woodcarvings, quilts, paintings, and metal sculptures are all signed by their makers and come with papers of authenticity. Even so, they’re quite reasonably priced—the birds-in-the-bush piece here has a diameter of 14 inches and is priced at $35. For that kale, you could buy a bunch and spray-paint them bright colors to use in a kid’s bedroom, as my friend once did with cheeky results.
For a sneak peak of what’s in store at November’s SOFA and the Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art, head over to River North tomorrow from 5:30–7:30 p.m. and preview works from both shows on a gallery walk of five participating dealers: Ann Nathan, Carl Hammer, Perimeter Gallery, Judy Saslow, and Ken Saunders. Have some wine, chat-up some artists, (Perimeter’s Vanessa Smith did the sculpture here, and will be on hand to answer questions) and enter a raffle to win an all-access pass to the fairs, including a stay at Hotel Felix and dinner at Riva. Keep the evening rolling with a dinner at River North’s iconic Club Lago, where you can snag a free appetizer if you mention that you were on this roll tonight.