Our Favorite Chicago Design Weekend Is Here

Binging isn’t just for TV.

Design in Indianapolis has definitely stepped up in recent years, from seductive restaurant atmospheres like Union 50 and Plat 99 to major architectural projects led by the Cummins Distribution Headquarters. But every once in a while—and specifically, this weekend—we binge on new aesthetic ideas in Chicago. Thursday, November 3, Dining by Design returns to the Merchandise Mart with elaborate and creative tablescapes for entertaining. Indy has similar shows, but nothing on the level of this fundraiser for DIFFA/Chicago (Design Industry Foundation Fighting Aids). The city’s top interior designers—and occasionally some from Indy—pair with a corporate sponsor to work the company’s product into a fantasy dinner-party scene. Beds, bathtubs, gas grills, artificial turf, packing crates—you’d be surprised at how glamorous these objects can become. The show is open to the public only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, and you can spend the rest of the time wandering the Mart’s public showrooms. DreamHome, an annual event, currently features six lustrous spaces designed by Chicago pros.

Friday and Saturday take us to SOFA Chicago (that’s Sculptural Objects, Functional Art, and Design), a massive display of objets d’art at Navy Pier November 3 to 6. Galleries from around the country (and a few international players) exhibit one-of-a-kind jewelry, sculpture, decorative art, and design pieces. Ball State’s School of Art will hold a special exhibit this year, and the Long-Sharp Gallery will rep Indy’s art scene.


For accommodations with design cred and attitude, it’s hard to beat the Virgin hotel ($349 this weekend, virginhotels.com)—since everyone’s favorite six-room boutique hotel, Longman & Eagle, is all booked up.