Sunday, June 14, 2009

7 places to visit while you're here for NeoCon

Since I am blogging about NeoCon 2009, I wanted to take the time to welcome all the designers who have come to visit my sweet home Chicago to participate. I'm sure you've read the guides, maybe watched the Welcome to Chicago programming on your hotel tv, thought about checking out Buckingham Fountain since it was in the opening credits of Married With Children, so I won't rehash. Instead, I want to suggest a few places that might be of interest to visiting designers that are off the beaten path. You can click the name of the location to see its official website, and click the address to see it on a map.


Water Tower Place
835 N. Michigan Avenue
1.3 miles from Merchandise Mart

This whimsical shop is on the second floor of Water Tower Place. Their motto is "Art for more than just your walls!" and it shows. If you have a client who loves color, this is the perfect place to find home accents in vibrant hues for every room and occasion. There is also an excellent selection of products for kids' rooms.

Home Element

600 N. Michigan Ave., 3rd Floor

0.8 miles from Merchandise Mart

Perched above the bustle of Michigan Avenue is one of the best-kept contemporary furniture secrets in the city, Home Element. Their sleek, stylish furniture has just what those seeking modern styles crave, without the crazy Merchandise Mart prices. And they also have a very nice selection of home accents from Asia.

This free museum is located right in the midst of a very popular tourist attraction, Navy Pier. But because it is further down the pier, it's far from the madding crowds, so it's a nice place to stroll and admire the beautiful stained glass windows. All of the windows were once installed in local buildings and many were designed by artists from the Chicago area. It is a gorgeous showcase of decorative art.

Prairie Avenue Bookshop

418 S. Wabash Avenue
1.3 miles from Merchandise Mart

If you ever go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and wish they had more books about interior design and architecture, you will love Prairie Avenue Bookshop because the entire store is full of books on the subject. More than 20,000, according to their website. With so many great books to choose from, you might wish you'd packed an extra bag.

This shop is a designer's dream come true. It' s a great place to buy design and architecture books, beautiful accessories, and gifts for your designer friends. There is even a model of 400 square city blocks of Chicago on display there right now. But they are best known for their very informative architectural tours.

220 East Chicago Avenue
1.8 miles from Merchandise Mart

I have been to this exhibit 3 more times since I first wrote about it on here. Every time, I find something else that fascinates me. Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art and pay homage to one of the greatest architectural thinkers of the 20th century and let his words of wisdom inspire you as we enter a new era of design. I suggest you go Tuesday because that is the day it is free and it is also open until 8 pm. And while you're there, check out the gift shop.

And finally, if you get hungry while you're at NeoCon and want to get a little taste of Chicago, I recommend The World Famous Billy Goat Tavern, where you can get a delicious double cheeseburger. You can find it in the food court on the second floor. Here's the Saturday Night Live skit inspired by the iconic burger place:

The past couple years when I have traveled I have started to feel like every American city and suburb is pretty much the same. So many stores are part of a chain, so many restaurants are in a franchise, and I began to feel like there was no point in going anywhere if everything is the same everywhere. When I visit other cities, I like to experience the things that make them unique. So I hope that you'll get a chance to check out some of the places on my list if they sound interesting to you. They are all unique to Chicago.

Welcome, and have a great time at NeoCon 2009!

1 comment:

  1. If you can manage it, make your way to "Bob Chinn's Crab House"...but not the one at the pier!
    Gather everyone and charter a bus to arrive at the on in the neighboring town of Wheeling!

    Eat well. ;P

    And go visit the upstairs at Tiffany & Co. to see what is new in that little world.


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