Chicago's Top Art & Architecture Events 2009

By Jenny Berg & Amalie Drury July 7, 2009, 3:39 PM EDT

The 2008 SOFA fair featured work from 100 galleries.

Photo: David Burns

1. Art Chicago/Artropolis
The three-day Art Chicago exhibition takes place at the Merchandise Mart and showcases works from approximately 180 international art galleries. The 2009 event took place May 1 to 4, and drew more than 50,000 attendees.

2. NeoCon World’s Trade Fair 
More than 50,000 guests descended on the Merchandise Mart in 2008 for the NeoCon World’s Trade Fair. Some 1,200 showrooms participate in the event, which showcases products for corporate hospitality and residential design. This year’s fair took place June 15 to 17.

An acronym for “sculptural objects and functional art,” SOFA is Chicago’s longest continuously running art fair. Around 34,000 guests attended the 2008 event, which featured work from some 100 galleries. This year, the show returns to Navy Pier from November 6 to 8.

4. Diffa’s Dining by Design
This three-day showcase of tabletop trends features some 50 dining-room vignettes put together by well-known fashion and interior designers. More than 14,000 guests attended the 2008 showcase, which raised $425,000. The 2009 event takes place November 5 to 7.

5. Diffa Chicago Gala
The Field Museum was the venue for the 2009 Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS gala, which took place June 13 and drew 750 guests. With the theme “Believe,” the event featured a live auction, dinner, and dancing. Organizers hoped to raise $550,000.

6. Designight/American Institute of Architects’ Chicago Awards
Each year, around 800 architects and design-industry professionals attend the institute’s awards, an event known as Designight. The 2009 happening is scheduled for October 30 in Navy Pier’s grand ballroom.

7. International Interior Design Association Black Tie Celebration
This award ceremony and dinner-dance rings in the first night of NeoCon and typically draws some 500 designers and manufacturers. It took place this year on June 14.

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