SOFA CHICAGO 2014, Photo by R25 Productions.

The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair (also known as SOFA) opens on Thursday, November 5, at Festival Hall at Chicago’s historic Navy Pier. The show, which has run continuously since 1994, is celebrated for its sharp focus on three-dimensional works that blur the boundaries between fine art, decorative art and design. This year’s fair will feature seventy-plus dealers from around the world exhibiting everything from ceramics, wood, glass, and fiber to jewelry, paintings, photography and works on paper.

SOFA will debut a brand new look this year thanks to renowned Chicago architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture who were tasked with redesigning the show floor to create a free-flowing and more cohesive layout. According to Noel, “The most effective urban contexts contain distinct places within the larger space, corridors with visual interest, and clear paths with fluid circulation. We are applying this approach to the arrangement of SOFA CHICAGO and implementing clear wayfinding strategies to and through the show, in order to create a sense of arrival and place. We believe this new floorplan will capture the spirit of the art and be an expression of the work itself, exploring form and materiality, with the same level of design rigor applied.”

Gregory Nangle, Corduroy Cream Coffee Cone, 2015. Glass, cast Bronze, 19 × 13.25 x 75.5. Represented by Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia.

Inspired in part by the fair’s revamped aesthetic as well as the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which runs through January 3, much of SOFA’s highly anticipated programming will center on architecture and celebrate the city’s rich design history. Must-see events include a lecture led by the Biennial’s Co-Artistic Director, Sarah Herda, and a discussion titled Living with the Handmade Object: An Insider’s Perspective, which will feature artists Joanna Manousis, Andy Paiko, and Peter Pincus discussing their respective processes for the conception and creation of new works, while interior designer Suzanne Lovell and collector Fleur Bresler will discuss their methods for choosing pieces and the qualities they look for in exceptional design.

Bruno Martinazzi, Finger and Thumb Cuff, Didier Ltd., London.

 Another gem in the fair’s programming schedule is SOFA Selects, which presents a curated selection of works from the fair hand-picked by noted architects, curators, designers and critics. This year’s participants include Julia Buckingham, Principal of Chicago’s Buckingham Interiors + Design; Beth Dunlop, Editor-in-Chief of Modern magazine; Zurich Esposito, Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects and Publication Director of Chicago Architect magazine; Monica Moses, Editor-In-Chief of American Craft magazine; Monica Obniski, the Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design at the Milwaukee Art Museum; and Shelley Selim, the Jeanne and Ralph Graham Assistant Curator at Michigan’s Cranbrook Museum of Art. Top picks range from a citrine sculpture topped with an agate and tourmaline brooch (Aaron Faber Gallery, New York) selected by Julia Buckingham and a bold Harry Bertoia necklace (Didier, Ltd., London) selected by Shelley Selim, to an expressive glass and bronze coffee table by Gregory Nangle (Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia) selected by Beth Dunlop. 

SOFA is known for its inimitable exhibitor list and this year is no exception. The 2015 show will feature seventeen new dealers -- a record for the fair -- including Didier Ltd., Gladwell & Patterson (London), and  Richard Norton Gallery (Chicago). Returning exhibitors include Wexler Gallery, Aaron Faber Gallery, and Habatat Galleries (Royal Oak). Over 36,000 fairgoers including artists, collectors, curators and designers from around the world are expected to attend this year’s SOFA fair. For more information call 800.563.7632 or visit