When you walk into Sifu Design Studio & Fine Yarns, you won’t find a quiet room simply housing yarns and fabrics. Instead, you’ll walk into a communal space where crafters of all ilks socialize during themed knitting circles, browse handmade crafts from local designers, or further their skills in instructional classes. Something is going on nearly every day of the week. Weeknight classes allow students to learn how to make shawls, mittens, and socks while sipping on BYOB wine, and during the studio’s sci-fi night, the staff screen a movie while guests work on their latest projects. Crafters also can refurnish their stocks of supplies and yarn from the expansive selection, which features a variety of hard-to-find specialty tools. The shop also has a range of vintage products, garnered through its trade-in program, which offers store credit for clients who trade in unused yarn, old tools, and vintage knitting patterns such as booties for claw-foot tubs.
Taj Sari Palace enriches the heart of Chicago's Indian-Pakistani community with saris and kurtas that blaze with color, all imported from world-famous Pakistani designers. Labels such as Sana Safinaz and Nickie Nina combine revered Indian and Pakistani styles with Western influences to create stylish, modern looks. The combination works; it is, in fact, so successful that Taj Sari Palace's garments have bedecked brides and even Illinois senators. Men's clothing, drawn from design houses such as Amir Adnan, includes casual and holiday pieces that can be custom-tailored for perfect fits.
Vincent Alain Photography immortalizes clients' important life events through adroit camerawork during in-studio and on-location shoots. A professional photographer snaps portraits and headshots, available in an array of prints and retouched digital images.
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.
For more than two decades, A.R. Decorating & Remodeling’s team has revamped homes with fresh coats of paint and artful remodeling. Their staffers provide services that range from exterior painting to custom carpentry and window replacements, which can patch up interiors damaged by lending a neighbor your hammer without opening the window first.
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.