Laura Davis and Don Schmaltz at Circa Modern
By Jason Foumberg
What is it about modern design that compels us to collect it? “We don’t want the same antiques our parents wanted,” says Laura Davis of Circa Modern, a shop specializing in modernist design that celebrated its one-year anniversary this past April. A person who purchases a Serge Gainsbourg LP from Dusty Groove records and an Alex Chitty altered photograph from Corbett vs. Dempsey art gallery and a torta from La Pasadita—all neighbors to Circa Modern—would also be the type to buy a ceramic Martz lamp or an odd number of orange fiberglass Herman Miller chairs. This zeitgeist cloud of storefronts on Ashland near Division describes our generation’s taste for well-made, stylish objects that stay fresh against time, or at least wilt elegantly.
The vintage modern market is especially healthy in Chicago. We are familiar with streamlined designs and manufacturing-turned-luxury materials (molded plywood and plastic!) because the New Bauhaus immigrated and took root here, and even our homegrown Prairie School has a European accent, which have been revived as sophisticated, functional collectibles by modern design advocates like Richard Wright and Leslie Hindman. Read the rest of this entry »
The CTA cuff at Inkling
By Marla Seidell
You know how spring appears in Chicago when you least expect it? Gone are the depressing black winter jackets, replaced by adorable yellow shoes or electric pink raincoats. But you don’t have to be the fashion victim (caught in a North Face when you should be wearing a mini) of the capricious whims of a fickle Chicago spring, for that matter. A few trendy pieces, like “wrist candy” or flowery dresses, or the perfect commuter handbag, for example—items that don’t break the bank—keep you armed and ready for next time. When the warm rays pop up out of nowhere again, you’ll be suddenly spring fashion forward!
Lakeview may not be as uber trendy as Wicker Park, but it does have its attributes. Take the adorable, under-the-radar boutique, Sage Clothing (3127 North Broadway). Helmed by London transplant Michèle Clark, the two-room store features a dizzying array of costume jewelry, vegan handbags and, yes, a solid supply of every girl’s go-to—dresses. Despite the heavy emphasis on bling, jewelry isn’t Clark’s focus. “I strive to have a good balance of all classifications—clothing, accessories and jewelry so it’s all cohesive in the sense you can create/build a story for a complete ensemble,” explains Clark. She adds, “You can be inspired by any one thing in the store, be it a statement necklace or a bag and still work around to finding the perfect dress or top to complement it, and vice versa.” Read the rest of this entry »
The author, the necklace and the necklace’s future owner
By Anne K. Ream
My grandmother believed in restraint. “You don’t have to tell all that you know,” she would say, and implicit in her statement was the notion that to cultivate mystery was to cultivate power. She extended this philosophy to her fashion choices. She loved black cashmere sweaters, a discreet monogram, long, buttery-soft leather gloves and her Christian Dior carry-on (which she acquired decades before designer logos were a staple on the arms of “It Girl” aspirants everywhere). But I sensed at an early age that beneath my grandmother’s studied sartorial elegance there existed a second story and perhaps even a secret life, one that first became visible to me in the nineteen seventies, when she returned from a month spent in Mexico, bringing with her the silver necklace that is now my most treasured wardrobe staple. Read the rest of this entry »
By Mary A. Osborne
Sky Cubacub wears leather holsters that hold her Lindstrom pliers. Essential tools at hand, she is ready to chainmaille at any time. “It also makes me feel like a cowboy with his guns, ready for the quick draw,” says the petite young artist. Cubacub’s elaborate garments, which are more sculptural than fashion, are futuristic in appearance and only slightly reminiscent of the armor worn by medieval knights. She works obsessively, as artists often do, to create her intricate designs wrought entirely of metal rings.
It is the intense process of the handwork that appeals to her. Thousands of tiny wire circles called “jump rings” are linked together one at a time into flat or round patterns, akin to the various weaves used in knitting. For comfort and wearability, she usually prefers lightweight aluminum rings to those made of heavier steel or brass. Anodized aluminum rings in various colors, as well as wax, washers, scissors, pop tops, soup tops, sheet aluminum, paper, ceramics and beads have also been incorporated into her designs. It might take an entire month or more for Cubacub to create a single piece of custom couture, but she finds the work calming, perhaps meditative. “Through chainmaille, I have found my patience,” she says. Currently, she is making a sweater out of metamaille (the artist’s term for chainmaille made from chainmaille). She estimates it would take four months to complete the garment if she were to work on this project alone. Read the rest of this entry »
Given the ubiquity of design in our lives, you’d think culling a list of its leading local proponents might be a rather simple task. After all, though even the most avid of aficionados consume the arts at best a few times in the course of the week, design saturates our lives every single waking hour. From the furniture in our home, to the clothes in our closet, to the products we use and the buildings we pass by on our way to work or play, no one shapes our aesthetic sense of the world more consistently than the designer. And yet, with the exception of the latter-day creation of the design celebrity, most ply their craft unheralded and far less known to the public they create for than the artists we admire. With this list we do our part to rectify that, and launch our newly expanded coverage of design with this inaugural edition of the Design 50, with an emphasis on those who influence the course of design in Chicago and, from Chicago, around the world. This year’s list, the first of an annual undertaking, considers influence as its principal measure, rather than creativity, though in the best of worlds the two work in sync. (Brian Hieggelke)
Design 50 was written by Nicole Briese, Jason Foumberg, Brian Hieggelke, Jan Hieggelke, Paul Preissner and Marla Seidell Read the rest of this entry »
John Fluevog Shoes’ Queen Transcendent, PLA plastic 3D-printed on Makerbot Replicator 1 with Sailfish courtesy of The 3D Printer Experience
By Brian Hieggelke
I’ve known the local artist Tom Burtonwood for years. A few weeks ago, he emailed me about a new business he’s involved in starting, The 3D Printer Experience.
I’ve been fascinated by the idea of 3D printing ever since I first heard about it a couple of years ago, in a speech delivered by the futurist Ray Kurzweil. It sounded surreal as Kurzweil described a future in which things like houses could be emailed and printed out in poor parts of the world, for example. It was hard to visualize, frankly, as realistic technology.
Tom and his colleague Michael Moceri brought a 3D printer to Expo Chicago last fall, where they were scanning fairgoers’ heads and printing out plastic busts. It was the first time I’d seen the nascent technology in practice. Read the rest of this entry »