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Artsy Cocktail Party Kicks Off DreamRooms Exhibition

To unveil its DreamRooms exhibition of designer-created living spaces, the Merchandise Mart Design Center hosted a design-savvy cocktail party.

White flowers from Kehoe Designs offset a Chicago Home+Garden poster.

Photo: Randy Lee Belice

The Merchandise Mart's north lobby became a design-focused event space for the opening of the second-annual DreamRooms exhibition, a series of nine living spaces created by interior designers who have showrooms at the Merchandise Mart Design Center, on Thursday, April 24. The event coincided with the opening for Artropolis, another exhibition at the Merchandise Mart made up of five separate art fairs.

“There was a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding Artropolis and DreamRooms,” said Merchandise Mart director of meeting planning and special events Nancy DeBiasi. “The preview party offered the designers and showrooms that participated in DreamRooms a chance to show friends, family, colleagues, and guests their work.”

Some 400 guests, including designers, showroom owners, and manufacturers, attended the  V.I.P. cocktail reception that took that place from 5 to 7 p.m., while an additional 1,100 people came to see the open-to-the-public exhibit, which stayed open until 10 p.m.

Kehoe Designs filled the compact lobby area with Art Deco-style mirrored highboys, a mirrored bar incorporating the DreamRooms swirling logo, and metallic shelves that held objets d'art. Cerulean blue fabric from Robert Allen/Beacon Hill (a Mart showroom) was draped to create separate areas throughout the space, while tall beaded columns held arrangements of white orchids and blue votives. At the far end of the lobby stood “The Liquor Store Project,” a large sculpture by artist Bernard Williams based on an actual liquor store on Chicago's West Side, which was installed specifically for Artropolis and added more dimension to the open lobby space. The party's sponsors, Chicago Home+Garden magazine and Benjamin Moore, had signage located next to the check-in table, as well as tables bearing the magazine's spring issue.

Near the lobby's Kinzie Street entrance, Bluprint, the Merchandise Mart's only full-service restaurant, offered seating at the bar and tables for party guests. The restaurant also provided the evening's signature cocktail, a mixture of Absolut Mandarin vodka with white cranberry juice. Trays of red and white wine and flutes of champagne also made the rounds. Passed hors d'oeuvres from Blue Plate (which owns Bluprint) included bite-size chunks of mozzarella topped with chopped tomatoes and fried basil, arugula, and red radishes on a potato crisp, and cilantro-and-lime-marinated shrimp skewers.

DJ Sye Young from PSJ Entertainment played a high-energy mix of 1970s hits like “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and “Stayin' Alive” by the Bee Gees, plus dance remixes of unlikely '80s pop tunes (such as “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart) from a table set up outside Bluprint.

The DreamRooms exhibit will be open at the Mart through July 12.


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