Chicago's Top Art, Architecture & Design Events 2008

July 3, 2008, 12:38 PM EDT

The 2008 Art Chicago at the Merchandise Mart showcased the works of some 2,000 artists.

Photo: Courtesy of Art Chicago

1. Art Chicago/Artropolis
Art Chicago, Chicago’s longest-running contemporary art exposition, took place in various venues throughout its 15 years, but found a home at the Merchandise Mart in 2006. The 2008 incarnation, which ran from April 25 to 28, brought together 180 art galleries from 56 cities around the world to showcase the work of more than 2,000 artists. Artropolis, the umbrella event that brings together five simultaneous art shows at the Mart, including Art Chicago, the International Antiques Fair, and Next, was introduced in 2007.

2. NeoCon World’s Trade Fair
The Merchandise Mart was transformed into a showcase of design-focused products and resources June 9 to 11 for NeoCon 2008. More than 1,200 showrooms and exhibitors were on site to demonstrate the latest interior innovations for more than 50,000 attendees. Keynote speakers included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., designer Scott Wilson, and author Steven Levitt. Merchandise Mart Properties produces the expo.

3. Diffa/Chicago Gala
The 20th anniversary of the Diffa/Chicago Gala was held June 7 to help kick off NeoCon and to benefit the organization’s Excellence in Care grant program. Sponsored by DuPont Corian and held at McCormick Place West, this year’s theme was “Black to Basics,” featuring a clubby nightlife vibe. The event is produced by gala co-chairs Timothy Smith and Erik Parks in conjunction with Sarah Schnell at Total Event Resources.

4. Designight/American Institute of Architects Chicago Awards

The 53rd annual Designight, the American Institute of Architects’ annual Design Excellence Awards, will be held October 24 at the Navy Pier grand ballroom. The event typically gathers 800 members of the architecture and design industry for cocktails, an award ceremony, and dinner. NPR host Peter Sagal will return to serve as M.C., and William R. Host of Host Meetings & Events Management is planning the proceedings.

5. International Interior Design Association Black Tie Celebration

Held on the first night of NeoCon, this event brings together more than 500 designers and manufacturers at the Westin Chicago River North. This year’s party took place on June 8 with an award ceremony for winners of the 35th annual Interior Design Competition and the 16th annual Will Ching Design Competition, followed by dinner and dancing. IIDA senior vice president Dennis Krause oversees the event.

6. Diffa’s Dining by Design
Top interior and event designers put together one of the year’s more elegant evenings for this event from Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. Now hosted by Condé Nast, this event gathers influential designers to create 45 to 50 three-dimensional dining installations. The Diffa/Chicago benefit has raised more than $5.5 million since its inception. Being held November 8 at the Merchandise Mart the event will be produced by Total Event Resources.

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