Cassona's owner, Alma Gutierrez, developed her eclectic furnishing sensibilities during cross-continental treks through Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam. The designs Alma encountered in remote artisan shops and markets dazzled her, re-forging her aesthetic sense into that of a bohemian tastemaker. Opening a carefully curated store allowed the consummate collector to satisfy her desire for discovering singular furnishings without drowning her own living space. Cassona, which takes its name from the Spanish word for mansion, boasts a sumptuous Andersonville location, where rustic, centuries-old furniture and home accessories sit alongside sleek, contemporary designs, each vying for customers’ attention with stories of their exotic origins, sought-after creators, and dreams of furnishing model-UN competitions.
The creative team of framers and decorators at Foursided stocks stacks of creative greeting cards and paraphernalia. The self-described "frame nerds" do more than cultivate a collection of stationery by planting paper seeds in nearby printing presses; they also place prints and objects into frames and furnish homes with original pieces by a handful of favored artists. Staffers also buy and sell vintage flash cards, puzzle pieces, and letter tiles harvested from a variety of objects.
Owner Todd Mack has worked in framing for 20 years, and he draws on his vast experience when custom mounting a broad spectrum of pieces. Vintage and recycled frames, archival framing, and shadow boxes are a few of the options available. Mack's interest in shadow boxes makes perfect sense to visitors who take a look at his own art, which assembles found photos and objects in forms that aren't always 2-D.
On HGTV's Urban Oasis, interior designer Vern Yip ornamented a luxury apartment with prints gathered from Foursided's expansive collection. In that collection, colorful shelves of letter blocks, maps, corks, baby-doll heads, and harmonicas turn personal, nostalgic objects into stylish new decorations. Candles, jewelry, and books round out the gift selections.
Once a month from April to October, more than 100 vendors gather under one roof for one purpose: to sell one-of-a-kind items. This is Vintage Garage Chicago, a fair that specializes in antique and retro merchandise. As visitors meander through the space, they can visit Zzouzi Vintage for colorful frocks and designer purses, Richard's Fabulous Finds for men's apparel, and Estate Chicago for Victorian and Art Deco jewelry plucked from the space-time continuum.
For more than two decades, American Mattress has promoted peaceful slumber in bedchambers throughout the Midwest with their vast selection of mattresses, headboards, and linens. The sleep experts strive to stay abreast of the latest bedding technology: their Serta mattresses are made with gel foam that supports curves, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses repel allergens, mites, and poltergeists looking to spoon. This devotion to a good night’s sleep has helped them earn the title of Best Mattress Store from suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald five years in a row. Additionally, American Mattress doubles down on each of its beds with a 30-day comfort guarantee and a 60-day best-price guarantee.
Nadeau characterizes its furniture as "with a soul" because it's true artisan work: handcrafted from wood rather than mass-produced from gasket pylons. Showcase fine china and live gerbils in a mahogany regal glass-door cabinet ($372), or in a hefty, finely trimmed narrow bookcase with drawer ($197). Or, display a new moving picture box on a bobbin leg console table ($116). Furniture comes in a myriad of stains and colors, and many pieces are one-of-a-kind. Nadeau's ever-changing inventory includes a variety of sturdy dining room tables and chairs. Prices and selection may vary due to rotating inventory, but pieces are always fully assembled and ready to welcome any tuckered torso or mound of toothbrushes.
Students upload working knowledge of various art forms in digital-arts and photography classes, the newest department at Lillstreet Art Center. During a digital-video class, instructors begin with a translation of camera controls and settings before showing students how to import video to the computer, edit footage, add sound and music, and put completed projects onto DVD, the Internet, or viewer-friendly blimps. The crash course in Adobe Photoshop, a software program used by many photographers and graphics professionals, introduces students to the various tools and menus through a gamut of in-class exercises that practice scanning, painting, cutting, and adjusting imagery. Tote confusing cameras to the digital-photography class, and harness the power of ISO, shutter speeds, apertures, and different shooting modes to take photos that look more professional than a snapshot clad in a business suit. Several hands-on exercises assimilate amateur eyes to the difference between auto and manual focus, as well as depth of field and capturing moving subjects.