• Provided by Morlen Sinoway Atelier
  • Trucks lining up during setup for the Guerrilla Truck Show

A cold rain thinned the crowd but didn’t kill the vibe at the 10th annual Guerrilla Truck Show on Tuesday. Held in a pop-up caravan of U-Hauls-turned-showrooms, the annual art and design street party in Fulton Market showcases art, furniture, and a variety of products crafted by local makers. The deluge definitely didn’t affect the show’s eccentricity or character—it’s a safe bet it was the only event this year where you’ll have the opportunity to step into a moving van, chat with Alinea’s resident design guru, Martin Kastner, then enjoy free soft serve topped with gourmet syrup poured from one of his stylish Porthole decanters. (Although if he does decide to leave the Achatz empire to start an ice cream truck, I recommend the rosemary).

Morlen Sinoway, founder of the festival and owner of the eponymous design store and studio near the event’s epicenter, started the truck show a decade ago to galvanize the community and provide a platform for artists. “We started with trucks because it was cheap,” he said. “You could create your own minivenue and split the cost with a few friends. We were small, just six trucks to start. I even had people dressed up in gorilla costumes walking around the Merchandise Mart during NeoCon, trying to get people to come.”

It’s hard to imagine many attendees of NeoCon—the massive annual commercial furniture and design showcase that brought legendary firms like Vitra, Herman Miller, and Knoll to the Merchandise Mart earlier this week—putting up with the leaky roofs that plagued a handful of the mobile showrooms. But you also wouldn’t expect to walk through that event and be exposed to so many new and independent designers talking about local sourcing, brand-new designs, and new funding campaigns.

Plenty of intriguing pieces and interesting stories filled the 62 trucks and satellite shows at nearby galleries. USA-OK Industries, a collaboration between Michael Dreeben and Ray Doeksen, showed off pointed aluminum tables and chairs, designed and manufactured in Humboldt Park, that look like a fusion of space-age chic and the designs of Konstantin Grcic. Tretow, a line of walnut, bent steel, and brass furniture designed by recent University of Milwaukee grad Ryan Tretow with portability and small urban spaces in mind, won best of show. Evan Ward’s Rotere 360 Task Lamp, fashioned from reclaimed wood from a Glenview home and launching soon on Kickstarter, offers a more defined alternative to stick-like desk lighting. The blackened wood bar stools by Meghan Leese and Michael Lukomski of SOLO Home Design, built with planks from a cask that held Woodford bourbon, beg to be behind a bar. Levi Borreson’s handmade bicycles, sold under the name Legacy Frameworks, begged for better weather so they could be be pedaled around the block.

Off-site showcases Object Society and Chicagoland—the latter of which also made a stop at Wanted Design in New York in May—featured refined pieces from established designers, such as Zak Rose’s three-axis walnut record cabinet and Steven Haulenbeek’s cast glass-and-wood Sync side table. Husband-and-wife duo Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth, British expats and SAIC teachers, presented the Lander Occasional Table, a geometric, flat-pack piece inspired by Eames and Noguchi with a pastel blue top inspired by the color of metal lathes. Bridgette Buckley’s Tak Tray Table—”tak” is Danish for “thanks”—boasted a useful removable top.

As they hurried across loading docks in the rain to get to the next moving van, it appeared that the Guerrilla Truck Show’s faithful appreciated the smaller crowd since it allowed for easier access to artists and designers, not to mention more shelter from the storm. Thankfully, the experimental, sprinkle-covered furniture from an SAIC student didn’t melt away in the downpour.

  • Provided by Morlen Sinoway Atelier
  • Trucks setting up next to the loading docks around the corner of Fulton market and Aberdeen

  • Provided by Tretow
  • Display for Tretow, the Milwaukee-based furniture company that won best of show

  • Provided by Chicagoland
  • Lander Occasional Table by Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth

  • Provided by Chicagoland
  • The Chicagoland Furniture and Design Showcase

  • Provided by Chicagoland
  • Steven Haulenbeek’s cast glass and wood Sync side table; made without fasteners, the top fits into grooves cut in the wood base.

  • Provided by Chicagoland
  • Tak Tray Table by Bridgette Buckley