Young Dandies of La Boheme: The Lyric Throws a Costume Sale After Ten Years

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Ten years had passed since the last Lyric Opera costume sale. When the Civic Opera House opened its doors to the throngs of music enthusiasts, history buffs and eBay opportunists on the first weekend of September, the wait was finally over. Doors were set to open at 9am, but early birds had staked out their territory by 5am. By 8:30am, a line stretched from the intersection of Madison and Wacker north to Washington, across the Chicago River, then back to Canal and Madison, nearly half a mile in all.

Some people had never been to the Lyric before and were more interested in seeing its gilded interiors than in buying garments. Some, like Conrad Jahrling, an engineer, were there as part of “a father-son trip. I lured in [my aria-loving dad] by saying he could dress as Wotan, Papageno or Rodolfo.” Some, like the SAIC fashion-design grad behind me in line, were drawn by the rare opportunity to examine the construction of period pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine, Design and a Lesson From Grandmother

Designed Objects, Events, Graphic Design, Interior Architecture No Comments »


The recently held fourth annual “Wine and Design” event at the Merchandise Mart supported Common Thread for the Cure, a nonprofit whose mission is “to unite the furnishings industry in the battle against breast cancer.” A wine-label design competition serves as the evening’s main event. The winning designs, one for a Chardonnay and another for Pinot Noir, will be featured and sold next year by Russian River Vineyards.

Design industry networking, check. All-you-can-drink wine, check. Graphic design critique, check. Great cause, check. All of my favorite things all in one place, and for the most part, Wine and Design delivered. The scene was as delicious as it was buzzworthy, with plenty of food and wine followed by a late ice-cream course to sate post-work cravings of hundreds of designers.

This year’s theme was “creativity takes courage,” broad and conceptual enough for a wide range of designs. The winning entry for the Pinot was submitted by the firm Ware Malcomb; it featured a sensory, wine stain-inspired label. White wine winner was the firm Perkins Eastman. It was selected for a simple, Swiss-inspired and slightly eroticized breast emblazoned with the word “Chardonnay” as a censor bar. Both designs stood out for their polish, though Ware Malcolmb’s label may easily fade into the background on a random wine shelf. It was a fascinating display; though next year it would be lovely to see label designs mocked up on an actual bottle rather than flat-mounted to cardboard. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: William FitzPatrick’s “Work” is Complex, Muscular

Architecture, Designed Objects, Furniture No Comments »
William FitzPatrick's new book is a study in juxtapositions

William FitzPatrick’s new book is a study in juxtapositions

Chicago artist and furniture designer William FitzPatrick’s new book, “WORK,” catalogs a collection of chairs, lights and constructed interiors from the past five years of his design career. Each piece of furniture, and accompanying photo, is a vignette about the relationship within art, construction, and design—and between rationality and experimentation. The book is at once a showcase of FitzPatrick’s design and a representation of the same design aesthetic and geometric shapes that are present in his work.

Inspired by architecture, FitzPatrick’s signature experimental chairs are arranged in photos taken around Chicago. The images are a study in modernism and shape, positive and negative space, and the border between experimental form and function. “WORK” offers subtle views of traditional spaces, with a perspective that would elude a casual viewer. Muscular materials reinforce sharp angles in and around the pieces; positions of the pieces distort a viewer’s perception and offer another layer to what may seem a straightforward piece of furniture. The most striking aspects of the presentation are brightly lit sculptures that brighten black pages, while chairs align with the angles of the book. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Lucky Hat

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Writer and musician Zechariah Melton, of the band Labors, was hanging out in Logan Square. His short novel, “Vermilion,” is forthcoming from The Godhead Publishing.

Can you tell me more about your tattoos?
Growing up, I became involved in the hardcore and metal scene in Kansas City. Back then, it was common to see a good deal of tattoos on people. Immediately I was fascinated and it wasn’t long before I had one myself. Although I still get tattooed from time to time, I think very little of it. More than anything, as it is with most things in my life, it provides me with some sort of comfort. Of course there is comfort in things we are able to control. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Blood and Lace

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Aimee Haraf was walking downtown searching for inspiration for sketching.

You are carrying a Teddy bear!
My Teddy also doubles as a purse, so he gives me somewhere to put my keys and Ventra pass when walking the streets of Chicago. Plus, he’s super cute, which is an added bonus. His name is Usagi-chan, since usagi is the Japanese word for bunny and he came from a Japanese lolita clothing company. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Lolla Blues

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By Isa Giallorenzo

I miss it already, don’t you? Even with the rain and all. These attendees kept their style intact under the toughest weather conditions. If that’s not smooth I don’t know what is…


IMG_3442Meg IMG_3447Meg

Meg summarizes smart festival wear: something practical that stands out in the crowd. You want your friends to find you, right? Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Accessorize, Girlfriend!

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Here’s a quick way to make or break a look: accessories. These Lollapalooza-goers definitely put the icing on the cake with wisely selected adornments:

Allisoncollage Read the rest of this entry »

Design Roundup: Fonts, Fuzzies, Fests

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By Brook Rosini

Design sadism
For those who enjoy seeing other people be judged, this Friday, August 22, offers the perfect opportunity to indulge, when representatives from the Society of Typographic Arts will hold their judges night for Archive 14—a juried competition for Chicago creatives that celebrates artistic expression and design excellence. The tenth annual competition invited submissions of all types from all kinds, whether representing definitive Chicago style or simply choosing to buck convention. The judges, two of whom hail from Chicago, all boast laundry lists of impressive clients and projects. We’re expecting some lively conversation.

Live design critique at the Society of Typographic Arts

Live design critique at the Society of Typographic Arts

The Post gets it (mostly) right
This week we read an effusive article from the New York Post, lauding Chicago’s leadership in architecture and design. Although the piece begins with tiresome digs at the Cubs (really?) and our “odd” pizza (we’d just call it delicious), and tends to wax poetic on starchitect-designed structures built prior to this decade (the most recent one named is the Poetry Foundation building, a gem by John Ronan Architects that was completed in 2011) the writer gets the most important part right: when it comes to architecture and design, Chicago is at the top of its game. It’s always fun—or infuriating, depending on who you ask—to see New York outlets get fuzzy on the finer points of life in our fair city. This one makes for a solid read if you’re in need of an eye-roll and a confidence boost. Read the rest of this entry »

Designy Mom: Airstream Daydreams

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Photo courtesy of Airstream

Photo courtesy of Airstream

By Krisann Rehbein

Chicagoland goes on forever and you can expect a three-hour traffic jam before getting a glimpse of nature. A friend once quipped that the suburbs are so expansive and inescapable that, no matter where you are in the city, you can hear the sound of farmland being bulldozed to make way for strip malls and McMansions.

European cities tend to be better at maintaining a healthy urban-rural proximity than we are. Even in Soviet Russia, residents of Moscow’s dense social housing spent summers and weekends in “dachas,” small houses and gardens on state-owned plots of land where the Proletariat could grow its own beets and potatoes. No matter how much we love them, sometimes we just have to get out of cities.

Which brings me to camping. As Labor Day approaches, the idea of sitting around a campfire, drinking beer and eating s’mores takes on a special urgency. I’m not crazy about camping, but it is one of those rites of passage I have to endure for the sake of my daughter. The experience may be formative: I fantasize that my daughter will grow up feeling as comfortable in a canoe as she does on the subway. We all have our aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »

Design Roundup: Salt, Spots, Service, Stars

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By Brook Rosini

When it rains, it pours

As part of its 100th birthday celebration, Chicago-based Morton Salt has announced a national online design competition seeking possible new label designs for their ubiquitous twenty-six-ounce cylindrical container. The competition will culminate with a public display of the winning designs in Pioneer Court on September 26, when the salt-of-the-earth company will announce $100,000 in scholarships to students “worth their salt” at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts. A four-judge panel of company execs and local art authorities—whose names are yet to be released—will decide the winners; the grand prize is cash and two tickets to Art Basel Miami, and three runners-up will also take home a prize. Morton Salt has what other brands want: an iconic mark and a memorable slogan. So we can take it with a grain of salt that the company isn’t committing to using any of the winning designs on its packaging. Submit your designs through September 7 at Read the rest of this entry »