Must have a motif

An exhibition rebuffing the clean lines and lack of ornamentation of 20th-century architecture and design has just opened in Chicago. Figuration in Contemporary Design uses the work of designers and architects to explore the return of decorative motifs. The show includes the large-scale urban architecture of Zaha Hadid and the delicacy of Dutch designers Demakersvan’s Lace fencing.

‘Figuration in Contemporary Design’, until June 8, The Art Institute of Chicago. Tel: +1 312-443 3600;

Bespoke titles

Online bookstore Designarta Books is offering a bespoke library service. The company, which specialises in design and arts publications and can source books on any subject, works with interior designers to recommend and supply what can often be the missing element of a study or den. Intellectuals might wax a little snooty – Designarta will happily supply books that fit a certain colour scheme – but for busy types with little time to browse it might well open up a world of reading they never realised was there.

Tel: +44 (0)1248-440 828;

Sitting comfortably

A good place to store your newly delivered library would be the Cave bookshelf/seat (pictured left) by Milan-based designer Sakura Adachi. A padded cocoon, like a cartoony car, is embedded into a regular bookshelf, giving you somewhere to sit while you flick through your volumes. A light above the reader’s head adds to the cosiness. Cave is currently at the prototype stage and Adachi is looking for a production partner.

Sakura Adachi, tel: +39 340487 4529;

Research in NY

The long-established Van Alen Institute in New York, which promotes research into architecture and public planning, is inviting applications for its 2008-2009 New York Prize Fellowships. Fellows work on projects that address challenges in today’s built environments and receive a stipend, project support, studio and gallery space and publication in the institute’s Public Practice magazine. Up to five fellowships will be awarded, with a sixth offered in conjunction with the US Social Science Research Council. Applications by March 7.

Tel: +1 212-924 7000;

Design up north

Submissions are also being invited by Design Event, north-east England’s annual design festival. For 2008, the festival will be looking at “northern design”, in the north of the UK and across northern Europe. Proposals are invited for exhibitions, tours and events across all design disciplines and should be in by January 5. The 2008 Design Event takes place in October.

Tel: +44 (0)191-245 4677;

Delicate flower

An exhibition of the ethereal flower photography (left) of Joanne Koltnow opens in San Francisco’s Botanical Garden on Wednesday. Koltnow developed a way of showcasing flowers when she put one on her scanner and discovered a strange beauty caused by the light shining through the petals. Looking at Light through Flowers is a selection of images made this way highlighting the plants’ delicacy.

‘Looking at Light through Flowers’, January 2-March 31, San Francisco Botanical Garden. Tel: +1 415-661 1316;

Art in Malaysia

There are still some days left to catch an exhibition of paintings held to mark Malaysia’s 50th anniversary in Penang. Between Generations brings together works by 25 artists from Malaysia’s first decade, including Hoessein Enas and Ismail Zain, with pieces by contemporary artists such as Nadia Bamadhaj and Wong Hoy Cheong, to explore how the nation has changed through the eyes of its artists.

‘Between Generations”, until December 31. Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. Tel: +60 (0)3-2284 2348;

Idaho wonderland

In the US, a magical night-time attraction has just over a week to run at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise, where more than 250,000 lights and strategically placed bonfires have transformed the space into a winter wonderland. As well as offering a typically Dickensian scene, the garden’s evening openings have been attracting families into the park at what is usually a quiet time of year to discover the variety of plants and shrubs that flourish even when the temperature dips below freezing.

Until January 5, Idaho Botanical Garden, Boise. Tel: +208-343 8649;

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